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A good way to relax in the forest is to go berry picking. Berries picked with one’s own hands have a different value altogether, while the act of picking is a pleasant pastime far away from the stress of everyday life.
In late June, the fragrant wild strawberries; in July, blueberries; at the end of the summer, cowberries; and in the autumn, both cowberries and cranberries…
Picking these berries means a chance to savour the scent of freshly plucked berries and enjoy the forest calm. Perhaps while peacefully picking your berries you will manage to catch a glimpse of the otherwise skittish forest animals, dances of the cranes or other birds. Remember - if you are planning to pick cranberries or cloudberries which grow in marshlands, it is particularly important to know the safest sites as marshes have dangerous water-holes.
In Latvian state and municipal forests, anyone can pick berries as long as they treat the forest with care and comply with fire safety regulations. The best way to go berry picking is with a knowledgeable companion who can identify which berries are edible and which are poisonous and knows the best spots for picking. Berry and mushroom picking can be done in the woods of the capital city, adjacent to country guesthouses and deep in the forests.
Ask your guide who might be able to accompany you to a really good berry patch. In places that enjoy too much popularity, it may happen that somebody has snatched all the bounty before you arrive.
Joint Stock Company "Latvijas valsts meži" (Latvian State Forests) offers its recommendations of the best berry picking spots:
- the area around the "Gustiņi" fire-safety tower in Sala parish near Jēkabpils,
- the Silene nature park not far from Daugavpils,
- the forests near lakes Kalnis and Lagzdags (Balvi district)
- "Ezernieki" next to the Lake Lubāns.
Holidaymakers also have chosen the area near the Rideļi mill, some 80 kilometres from Riga, on the side of the Riga–Talsi highway, as well as other forests equally rich in berries.