2016 has been a bumper year for bilberries. These small wild blueberries thrive on the acid soil of the Upper Calder Valley. Bilberry bushes are widespread on the steep wooded hillsides and up on the moors. The berries ripen during mid to late July. We’ve been busy picking over the last few weeks in Luddenden Dean and Hardcastle Crags.
Although the bushes are laden with berries, it’s still a slow process gathering them as the berries are so small. You can easily tell a bilberry picker by the colour of their hands, stained by the dark purplish-black juice.
Bilberries need to be cooked to bring out their subtly perfumed flavour. They make delicious pies and divine bilberry jam, perfect for home-made scones.
© Images copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick