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Top tips for surviving the end of the world in Greater Manchester

Nov 15, 2016

With the return of The Walking Dead dominating television and workplace small talk, Hopwood Hall College Horticulture Student Barbara Burke wondered, how would she actually survive an apocalypse?

“When I thought about how I would actually survive, I thought in a literal sense of keeping my body alive. There are no shops, utility companies or hospitals, so how would I even start to feed and maintain my body?”

“These are my top natural sources for keeping yourself alive in Greater Manchester after the end of the world”


What many of us view as a weed could be a valuable tool for surviving an infrastructure-less world.

Every part of the dandelion is edible, including the roots, leaves, crowns and flower buds. The plant is ideal as a digestive aid, acting as a mild laxative; promoting digestion and balancing intestinal bacteria.

The plant also clears out kidneys, inhibits microbial growth, improves liver function, removes toxins, re-stabilises hydration and electrolyte balance.

To prepare as a tea drink you must wash away all excess dirt, finely chop or grate roots as small as possible, dry the roots in the sun and steep the tea before drinking hot or cold.


The hardy plant is extremely common and can act as an allergy relief, help breathing related problems, urinary disorders, sooth painful muscles and joints as well as calming Eczema and Arthritic symptoms.

To prepare as a tea drink you must boil nettle leaves in a small amount of water (making sure that only young leaves are used) and strain off the water pressing slightly through a T-shirt or cloth of some kind.

Natural reliefs for when you inevitably sting yourself include dandelions, horsetail, dock leaves, mud and saliva.

Silver Birch

The tree can make good firewood that produces a sufficient heat when burned, but is quickly consumed by the flames. Slabs of bark can also be used for making shelter and wooden footwear.

The bark can also be heated and the resin collected; the resin is an excellent waterproof glue and useful for starting fires. The thin sheets of bark that peel off of young wood contain a waxy resin and are easy to ignite even when wet.

Large quantities of sap rise up the trunk, which can be tapped. The sap contains around 1% sugars and can be used in a similar way to maple syrup. It can be drunk fresh, concentrated by evaporation or fermented into a "wine".

Birch leaves in spring are also edible when well-cooked and may be infused with the twigs in to a tea, full of vitamins A, C, E and B1 and B2.


The Pignut is a small and sometimes elusive plant, one that would be an essential food staple for your apocalyptic treks across towns.

The Pignut is a perfect forageable snack, but you must be careful not to gather something which looks similar. The pignut has fine, feathery leaves and has delicate white flowers when in flower.

Nuts are an important source of nutrients for both humans and wildlife, as they generally have a high oil content; making them a highly prized food and energy source.

Natural Water Filters

Moss can be used as a strainer. Running creek water through moss will not get rid of potentially harmful micro-organisms, but will filter out some larger particles. The best thing to do is boil the water to kill any harmful microorganisms.

A useful make-shift filter: Cut off the bottom end of a plastic bottle then fill the bottle with a layer of moss, a layer of charcoal, a layer of sand and a layer of gravel. After piercing a hole in the lid, water will filtrate through the various layers when poured in.

The water should still be boiled to ensure any dangerous bacteria is killed.

If medical supplies are low, you could also use moss as a dressing (although this is obviously not recommended if actual dressings are available).

In World War I, Sphagnum Moss was used as first-aid dressings on soldiers' wounds, as these mosses were said to absorb liquids three times faster, retain liquids better and better distribute liquids uniformly throughout themselves than cotton of the time. At the time, they were also cooler, softer and less irritating for the patient.

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