Partnership promises a ‘berry’ tasty treat

People of all ages will be grabbing their jerrycans for a walk to the top of Cave Hill to pick and eat wild bilberries on Thursday night (July 26) with the Belfast Hills Partnership.

A ‘berry’ enjoyable evening is beckoning with the chance to eat the delicious bilberries that have been ripening all summer despite the rain.

“Bilberries are like small blueberries but difficult to spot. They are found in damp, acidic soils all over Ireland and are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries,” said Jim Bradley, manager at the Belfast Hills Partnership.

“The easiest way to distinguish the bilberry is that it produces single or paired berries on the bush instead of clusters, as the blueberry does. The fruit is smaller than that of the blueberry but very similar in taste,” he said.

“Finding bilberries in the thick heather bushes where they grow was so difficult in the past that collecting them took the better part of a day. With young men and women spending long hours outside hunting for the berries together, Bilberry Sunday as it became known, developed into a time for courting. Many a lad was said to have met his wife on this day. Girls would bake a bilberry cake and present it to the boy of their fancy at a Bilberry Sunday dance. Others used the berries to make tarts and even bilberry wine.”

The walk takes place at Cave Hill Country Park’s Upper Hightown Road car park from 7- 9pm.

Partnership staff will show the berry pickers where the fruits are growing for harvesting. Then the berries - known as a superfood - will be washed and eaten with some healthy yoghurt supplied by the Holstein and Jersey cows at the Clandeboye Estate.

Participants are asked to wrap up warm, wear sturdy walking boots and bring drinking water and a snack.

Price £1 for adults. Children go free. Not suitable for very small children due to the walk which can be steep in places.

For more information log on to www.belfasthills.org