As a foodie traveller, it's my dream to drive around the world, picking up local ingredients and cooking, in situ, against stunning surroundings.

The romantic ideal is a classic VW camper with ice cream pastel colours, striped pop-up awning and split screen windows. The more practical alternative is a modern camper van.

I got the chance to travel in one this April, renting a spanking new six berth beast with gas stove, fridge, shower, heating and power sockets, from (starting from around £120 per day). Google Maps open on my iPhone, I headed off from North London to the Outer Hebrides.

On the Scottish islands, I gathered advice from Hebridean seaweed queens Fiona Bird, author of Seaweed in the Kitchen (Prospect Books 2015), and Amanda Saurin, herbalist and owner of Temple Harris cafe, to learn the art of seaweed foraging.

Ham & High: Kerstin hits the road in the Outer HebridesKerstin hits the road in the Outer Hebrides (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

"There are three types of seaweed; red, brown and green, but all of them are green when cooked," advised Fiona as we walked out far onto South Glendale beach on the Isle of South Uist. Carrying baskets and scissors, we ventured into the intertidal zone, where long, bright green petticoats of frilly Sugar Kelp lay flat on rocks.

We passed beached fronds of Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia Elongate) spread like splayed squid. "I call this area spaghetti junction," said Fiona. I tasted it raw, enjoying the briny crunch.

On the Isle of Harris, I met Amanda at her local beach. Leaning against the wind, we picked up parasitic fluffy brown balls (Vertebrata lanosa), which have a brilliantly descriptive common name, Sea Pom Poms, and taste like truffle.

Ham & High: View from the van in South UistView from the van in South Uist (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Does every beach have its own type of seaweed? "There's a lot that are common to all of them," explained Amanda, "but a few beaches have distinctive rock formations which encourage the growth of certain seaweed. So on the next beach we get far more Pepper Dulse than we do on this beach."

"This beach is like a treasure trove," she enthused. Later I made a quick dish of Sea Pom Poms folded into scrambled croft eggs on the camper van stove, eating them hot while sat on a rock.

When you visit the seaside this summer, try foraging at low tide. You will find a variety of seaweed to add to all kinds of dishes – from stews and rice to omelettes and oatcakes – and it is a great activity for kids. Seaweed foraging is safe as there are no poisonous varieties, unlike the more hazardous pursuit of mushroom hunting.

Ham & High: Seaweed foraging with Fiona Bird in South Uist.Seaweed foraging with Fiona Bird in South Uist. (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

It is best to avoid 'stormcast', that is, the seaweed on the beach. Instead, gather it fresh from sea water. Rocky shores are more fruitful for foraging than sandy beaches. Seaweed keeps for about three days in the fridge. Only rinse it in fresh water just before use. You can preserve it by drying in a low oven, airing cupboard or the sun. Drying makes the flavour stronger.

Sea Truffled Scrambled Eggs

You can use pepper dulse or sea weed pom poms for this dish. Seaweed and eggs is a great combination.

2 tbsps butter
3 fresh eggs, best quality you can find
2 tbsps single cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of seaweed

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
Whisk the eggs with the cream. Season with salt, pepper and add the seaweed.
Pour the eggs into the frying pan and whisk with the fork until cooked.
Serve with bread and butter.

Ham & High: Scrambled eggs with seaweed pom poms on the Isle of HarrisScrambled eggs with seaweed pom poms on the Isle of Harris (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)

Sea and Land Spaghetti Vongole

Here I'm using sea spaghetti and normal spaghetti. During the same foraging session, I also picked up some giant clams. Keep clams in the fridge then rinse in cold water. Discard them if they do not close when run under fresh water, if their shells are broken, or if when cooking they do not open.


For the vongole sauce:
3 tbsps generous of olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
A dozen palourdes, or more if the clams are small
A glass of white wine

For the pasta:
Sea salt
400g spaghetti (not quick cook)
Large handful sea spaghetti

To garnish:
A handful of baby sorrel or parsley

Ham & High: Spaghetti vongole with seaweed spaghettiSpaghetti vongole with seaweed spaghetti (Image: Kerstin Rodgers)


In a tall wide pan, heat the olive oil, then add the shallots and fry until golden.
Add the garlic and the clams, then the white wine. At the same time, for the pasta boil water with sea salt in a large pan until boiling. 
Add the spaghetti and cook for 2 minutes less than stated on the packet.
1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the sea spaghetti. If it's young, it shouldn't take more than a minute.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the clam shells. Stir. Serve with baby sorrel or parsley.