Wild Samphire, Stangford Lough
Strangford Lough is a large sea loch in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the largest inlet in the British Isles, almost totally enclosed by the Ards Peninsula and heads out to the mouth of the Irish Sea. The lough contains seventy islands along with many bays, coves, headlands and vast mudflats which provides a diverse ecosystem for wildlife and marine flora, recognised internationally for its great importance. Strangford Lough was designated as Northern Ireland’s first Marine Conservation Zone and is one of only three designated Marine Nature Reserves in the United Kingdom.
Strangford Lough is packed full of history, dating back thousands of years. Ancient communities would have lived on the abundant natural resources of the lough and its surrounding areas. The early inhabitants would have lived on a rich diet of fish, oysters, cockles, mussels and shellfish, seaweed, kelp and samphire.
Drinking in the mineral wealth of the ocean with each incoming tide, sea greens are richer in nutrients than any land-locked plant could hope to be. Sea oak, can be found anchored steadfastly to the tide-line, fanning its leather-brown fronds on to beaches and unfurling shiny ribbons over pebbles and rocks. Thanks to an amphibious design, sea oak can sunbathe when the tide is out and employ its air-filled bubbles when it flows in. Clinging vertiginously to the cliffs above, rock samphire sprouts along the coast like a miniature marine cactus, sinking its roots deep into rocky crevices. Left to its own devices, this fragrant sea vegetable never strays far from the briny breezes of the coast, which lends it a distinctive salty tang and considerable mineral riches.
Britain in a Bottle Noble Isle sources sea oak and samphire from the Peninsula Kelp Company, who lease a section of seabed from the crown estate, located on the eastern shores of Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. Strangford Lough is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, designated as Northern Ireland’s first Marine Conservation Zone and is one of the most richly bio-diverse regions in Europe.
Graham and his family are passionate about protecting the marine environment, sustainability and the health benefits of incorporating these ocean greens into the diet and in skincare. All products are harvested by hand and they rotate the areas of seabed to ensure continuing growth and that the marine environment is not adversely impacted.