Saturday 25th March 2017, 2pm.
By Andra Houchen
Kym Murden is a herbalist and storyteller who lives and works in Lewes. She has a particular interest in how people connect with the landscape.
On a beautiful, sunny day with a rather chilly easterly breeze, five Community Allotment members, along with a number of other people, went on a guided walk with her, to learn about herbs and plants, as well as ancient Celtic stories.
We met Kym at the entrance to the Tumuli Field gate, Landport Bottom and started by walking up the Tumuli Field. Kym explained that the mounds we saw and stood on were burial mounds from ancient times and this chalk downland area supports a huge variety of wildlife and plants.
As we walked up the field, some of us looked at the different plants and others listened for different birdsong. We heard about the medicinal qualities of nettles and dandelions and the best time to pick these plants to harvest them at their best. We noticed the cawing of crows and the rather more melodious song of what we thought might be blackbirds. Kym told us that skylarks were nesting in the fields around us and we heard one a little later.
When we paused, Kym started to tell us a couple of Celtic tales that have been passed down the generations and we listened to these tales as we went along, looking at plants and trees, some with medicinal qualities like hawthorn and some which have toxic properties (beware!).
Kym explained that she watches where various plants grow, some pop up in places where they haven't grown before. It’s important to harvest responsibly to make sure they continue to grow and spread. We saw a couple of perfect comfrey plants, a snake disappearing into the hedgerow, and learnt that trees 'talk' to each other and communicate through a network of beneficial fungi.
The views from the top of the path were stunning as we wended our way back down past Lewes Community Allotment and the Highdown allotments and finished a very interesting and enjoyable walk on the South Downs.