WORKING from home is something that many of us have gotten used to this past year.

The novelty has well and truly worn off, but what better way to break from the new norm than to search for your lunch among the hedgerows and tree roots of Monmouthshire.

I met up with Chloé Newcomb Hodgetts, former apprentice of the late renowned forager Henry Ashby, to see what we could find in just a few of the area’s secret larders.

Ms Newcomb Hodgetts has put everything she learned from her former mentor into starting her new business, Gourmet Gatherings, running guided foraging courses and supplying Michelin-starred restaurants, distilleries and speciality clients throughout the country.

We met at the SARA car park, underneath the Severn Bridge.

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Not exactly what I had in mind, but I was sure Ms Newcomb Hodgetts knew what she was doing.

Introductions barely over, we had made our first find. Walking into the paddock and there, clinging to a branch at head height was what looked like a raspberry.

Ms Newcomb Hodgetts explained that it was in fact a larch rose, citrusy and sweet and quite delicious. We’d been lucky already.

We couldn’t walk for more than a couple of paces before she would spot something new.

Next was common hogweed - low to the ground and fairly unassuming. She explained it tasted like a woodier version of asparagus.

However, she stressed it was not to be mistaken for the - albeit much taller - giant hogweed, which can lead to severe blistering, especially in children.

Each new find was greeted with as much joy and enthusiasm as you’d imagine from an archaeologist unearthing a rare coin.

“As long as you love food and the outdoors it’s a world of discovery,” Ms Newcomb Hodgetts explained, noting that she spent most every day out foraging in one form or another.

Mugwort was another. Used for centuries for alleged healing properties, its aromas of sage, rosemary and thyme go very well - I am reliably informed - with a Sunday roast.

Next it was down onto the estuary proper, by way of sampling some wild fennel - find of the day in my opinion.

Here we were introduced to, among other things, arrowgrass, scurvy grass (named for healing, not causing the ailment) and bountiful bushels of wild spinach.

Who knew such varied produce could be found even here?

Next we took a short drive to woodland near Chepstow Racecourse.

We were on the hunt for a mushroom fantastically known as the ruby elfcup.

It wasn’t long before Ms Newcomb Hodgetts had found what she was looking for. Not as many as she was hoping for, but more of the shiny red fungus than I had ever seen.

She explained that the name, as with many wild plants, came from folklore. The story goes that the elves and gnomes would drink from the mushrooms. Hence, elfcups.

There must be another mushroom called a gnomecup.

Find out more about Ms Newcomb Hodgetts’ guided foraging expeditions at

Take care not to pick and eat anything if you are not 100 per cent sure it is safe.