Sunday last week was gorgeous weather and I was lucky enough to be walking in the Peak District. Cressbrook Dale was one of the highlights of a day full of simple pleasures. The huge mill buildings now converted into select apartments looks incongros in the deep limestone valley. Across the road from the mill a narrow rusted wrought iron gate in high wall led to the millpond. Tucked away I found a delightful spot to stop for lunch. Along the edge of the pond were yellow flag iris, marsh marigolds and watermint and abundance of watercress.
Picking watercress in the wild always runs the risk of liver fluke, unless it is clear that the water (up stream) is clear from grazing animals (cattle and in particular sheep). Cooking watercress, as in soup, kills everything – making it safe but picking from livestock fields is not recommended.
Assuming that you have found a safe source, pick the tops of the shoots, careful not to pull it up by the roots. Wild watercress is so much tastier than shop bought. If you do get a piece with a root, you can grow it at home in water that you change every so often.