In this blog, we share the following video from Flint and Pine in which John Boe, founder of Wildway Bushcraft, talks about what bushcraft and being in the woods means to him.

 

What the woods and bushcraft mean to John

Learn to live in the woods

Learn to live in the woods on our intermediate bushcraft course

This year, Wildway Bushcraft are offering an intermediate bushcraft course. This course gives participants all the skills that they need to live in the woods for a short-medium term. Spend five days living in the woods, learning skills for large game butchery to basket making.

This course is all about unlocking your ability to thrive in a wilderness setting, it is not a test of endurance. We will provide you with food, water, tea, and coffee so you get the best possible outcome from this course. You will cook your own meals in your personal camp or around our communal fire, where we will spend the evenings winding down with a drink and a chat.

 

Weekend bushcraft course

Weekend bushcraft course

For more of an introduction into bushcraft try our weekend bushcraft course. This course runs from the Friday evening to the Sunday morning and is a great introduction to bushcraft as well as a way for more experienced practitioners to hone their skills. IOL accredited this course also provides you with an opportunity to come back and take your level two IOL accreditation.

A bushcraft axe can be one of the most important tools that you can take out into the woods with you. In our previous blog, we looked at how to choose a bushcraft axe. Now in this blog, we’re going to look at how you can keep your axe sharp while in the field. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Equipment for sharpening your axe

how to sharpen an axe

Keeping your bushcraft axe sharp is an essential skill. A blunt axe is not only difficult to use it can also be dangerous it becomes cannot easily split wood. Here are our tips on how to sharpen an axe in the field.  

TAKE YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH OUR WEEK LONG WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE 

    • Inspect the edge or ‘bit’
      Inspect the edge of the axe blade, this is also known as the ‘bit’. If the edge is nicked or damaged then any nicks need to be removed using a bastard file.

    • Find the bevel
      Use a sharpie, or marker pen, to mark the edge of the axe. This will help you to keep an even and consistent bevel. Place the axe between your knees with the head of the axe facing away from you. Place the sharpener against the edge of one side of the axe, holding it at the correct angle for the bevel start the sharpening process. Remember to push away from the edge and not pull into it. Once a rough edge has been established it is time to move on to the puck.
    • Using the puck
      Start with the coarsest edge of the puck, match the bevel angles, and use small circular motions along the whole length of the edge. Count the number of strokes that you use on edge side and then repeat the same number on the other side.  Make sure that the axe is sharp enough to cut paper before turning the puck over.
    • Finishing off the axe
      Using the finer side of the puck, repeat the step outlined above. This will help you to establish a really sharp and consistent edge.

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

How to test the sharpness of an axe

It is important to test the sharpness of your bushcraft axe before finishing the sharpening process. The sharpness of your bushcraft axe can be tested by trying to shave off thin pieces of wood, the same way as you would if you were making fire sticks.

How to sharpen an axe in the field

Keeping your bushcraft axe sharp is an essential skill. A blunt axe is not only difficult to use it can also be dangerous. Here are our tips on how to sharpen an axe in the field.

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Further reading

Sharpening a bushcraft axe

Have a look at these related blogs.

 

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.


A bushcraft axe is one of the most useful tools that you can have in the woods. Probably even more useful than a knife. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the different types of axes available, how to choose the right axe for the right job and what, in our opinion, is the best all-round bushcraft axe.

As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Choosing a bushcraft axe


Key considerations

Not all axes are created equal and likewise, not all jobs are the same. At the end of the day choosing a bushcraft axe is a personal matter. It comes down to what you want to use it for, chopping, carving, splitting or general duty, the extra weight that you are prepared to carry, how you want to carry it and even your height. Those that are taller will probably find that an axe with a longer handle is easier to use than one with a short handle. Remember, an axe is a key element of your bushcraft kit. It needs to feel comfortable in your hands. So before rushing out and buying the first one you come across, spend some time with it and decide if it feels like the axe for you.

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, LIGHT FIRES AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Understanding different bushcraft axes

Choosinga bushcraft axe


There are many different types of axes for many different jobs. In theory, you should use different axes for different tasks, but the reality of the situation is that when out in the woods practicing bushcraft you are only ever going to be able to carry one, or possibly at a push, two
bushcraft axes with you. Read on to learn more about the different types of bushcraft axes.

  • General bushcraft axesThese are the types of axes that you want to be looking for if you’re only going to take one out with you. General bushcraft axes, also known as forest axes, are designed to be used for everything from felling trees to splitting small logs. Forest axes, such as those from Gransfors Bruk are designed to cut across the grain, this is useful for felling and limbing trees.
  • Splitting axes

    Splitting axes are designed, as you might have guessed, to split wood. They have a large and heavy head with a relatively thin edge on the end of a concave wedge. They are designed to cut along the grain, as opposed to general bushcraft axes. With splitting axes the edge is designed to go straight into the wood while the broader section pushes into the wood, splitting it.
  • HatchetsHatchets are, essentially, small axes that are used for smaller jobs. They have a much shorter handle than axes and can, at a push, be used for splitting and chopping – though this is much harder with a hatchet than with a small bushcraft axe.

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, LIGHT FIRES AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Bushcraft axes that we recommend

 

Choosing a bushcraft axe

At Wildway Bushcraft we use a variety of axes on our courses where we teach people how to use them safely and for a wide variety of jobs.  For personal usage, we carry the Gransfors Bruk’s Small Forest Axe. This axe has a 49 cm wooden handle and weighs less than a kilo. It’s small enough to fit into a rucksack but it still provides enough chopping power for most bushcraft jobs.

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

Bushcraft axe

Copyright Gransfors Bruk
https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/


                             Wildway Bushcraft uses a small forest axe from Gransfors Bruk. You can find out more information about Gransfors Bruk via the link below.
https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/ 

 

Further reading

Read these following blogs. Use the arrows to navigate between them.

 

 

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

 

“You’re only as sharp as your bushcraft knife” might not be exactly true, but it does have an element of logic to it. When out in the woods looking after your knife and maintaining its edge can make the difference between and enjoyable and miserable experience. In a survival situation looking after your bushcraft knife becomes an even more serious affair.  In this blog, we’re going to look at what we mean by ‘bushcraft knife’, and how to keep it sharp at home and in the field. As always, feel free to read the entire blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Before we go any further though, take a look at our blog on knife law in the UK.

What do we mean by bushcraft knife

Bushcraft knife Bear Blades

At Wildway Bushcraft we look at knives like tools. Provided they do the job that they are intended for then we’re happy. We don’t fetishise knives and we believe that the best bushcraft knife is the one that does the best job.  It is also about skills, in the hands of a knowledgeable woodsman more can be achieved with a penknife than with a machete in the hands of an amateur. When we talk about bushcraft knives in this blog we’re talking about knives such as the Morakniv Heavy Duty Companion. This will only set you back about £25 and is all you need to get started in Bushcraft.

 

What do we use? 

We’ll cover the kit that we use at Wildway Bushcraft at the end of this blog but we use knives from Bear Blades. If you’re interested in one of these knives, let us know and we will see what we can do. 

 


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Equipment needed to sharpen your knife in the field

Bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft

It is most likely that you will need to sharpen your knife in the field, especially if you are out in the woods for an extended period of time. In order to sharpen your bushcraft knife in the field, you will need, apart from a knife obviously, a small sharpening stone. The one that we would recommend is the DC4 from Fallkniven. This small sharpening stone easily fits in the pocket, doesn’t weigh much at all and is perfect for sharpening your knife in the field.  

 

Sharpening your knife in the field 

Alder trees for bushcraft

The principle of sharpening your knife in the field is the same as to sharpening your bushcraft knife at home. The knife should be placed on the sharpening stone so that the bevel is flat against the stone. In the case of using the DC4 in the field hold up the knife, place the sharpening stone against it, so that the bevel of the knife is flat against it. Then move the sharpening stone in small circular motions on the blade of the knife. Be sure to swap sides so that both sides are sharpened equally. One tip to help is to draw along the point of the blade with a marker pen. Once the marker pen has been erased you will have sharpened the blade equally.

Sharpening your knife at home

sharpening your bushcraft knife 

The same principles used when sharpening your knife in the field applies when sharpening your knife at home. The primary difference is in the sharpening stones. Without taking into account weight considerations when sharpening your knife at home you can use water stones. We suggest waterstones such as the Ice Bear Waterstones , choose two of different grits, for example, the 1000 and 6000. Before using the waterstones they should be submerged and filled with water. Again, place the bushcraft knife on the stone, with the bevel flat against it, push the knife away from you in smooth strokes. It is easiest to sharpen your knife in strokes of eight, eight on one side, eight on the other. For a more practical demonstration watch our video in the section below.

FOUNDATION BUSHCRAFT AND WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE IOL ACCREDITED

A video demonstration

The video below is taken from our series of Facebook live videos. If you would like to vote on the topics of our live Facebook videos then join our Wildway Bushcraft Facebook group here.

Posted by Wildway Bushcraft on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

 

How often to sharpen your bushcraft knife

Sharpening your bushcraft knife

When it comes to how often you should sharpen your bushcraft knife the simple answer is, as often as it needs it. You should always check your equipment before heading out into the field and keep in maintained to the highest possible standard while out there.  

 

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that, with the exception of Bear Blades, Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Further reading

You might also be interested in the following blogs. Use the small arrows to navigate.

 

TAKE YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH OUR WEEK LONG WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE

We’ve just got back from another fantastic canoeing expedition along the river Spey in Scotland.

In case you don’t know, each year we offer a guided canoe and bushcraft expedition along the beautiful river Spey. Paddling from Loch Insch all the way down to Spey Bay and wild camping along the trail. We offer land-based bushcraft courses that paddlers can take part in, but everyone is also welcome to just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  

These trips are always corkers and this year was no exception. Here’s a selection of photos, images, and thoughts from the trip…

 

Canoeing the Spey

Bush craft and canoeing

Hazel approves of the tarp set up.

Our 2018 river Spey canoeing expedition gets off to a strong start. Tarps are incredibly useful and light-weight bits of kit, we camped under them the whole way. You can read our review of the DD Tarp here, or learn about tarp set-ups here.

 

First fire of the trip

Bushcraft fire lighting on canoeing trip

First fire of the trip

 

There’s always something special about the first fire of the trip, even more so when it’s on the banks of the beautiful river Spey. Learn more about bushcraft and fire lighting in our blog posts here and here.

 

Last minute canoeing prep

Canoeing prep

Hazel helping out with some last minute canoeing prep.

Just double and triple checking everything before we set off on our fantastic adventure. Learn more about packing for a long distance canoeing trip here.

 

Morning brew

bushcraft and canoeing in Scotland

Can’t beat a morning brew.

It doesn’t get much better than the first brew of the morning, in a hammock, in Scotland.

Another day on the river

Canoeing preparation

Getting ready to hit the river

After cups of tea, it’s time to get on the river. Learn about navigating on Scotland’s rivers in this blog post here.

 

 

 

Brief pause

canoeing and bushcraft on the river spey scotland

Taking a little break

Just us and the river. You can’t beat it.

Stunning scenery

Stunning views from our bushcraft camp

Takes your breath away.

Stunning views canoeing in Scotland

And another shot

 

 

Navigation is essential

Canoeing and bushcraft navigtion

Hazel knows where she’ going.

Hazel leading the way.

 

Gearing up for some white water

 

This stretch of water is ‘affectionately’ known as ‘The Washing Machine’.

Relaxing on the river

Canoeing on the Spey

Gentle paddling

Some of the guys taking enjoying the river.

 

Dinner is served

Firepot Outdoor Food.

Delicious!

Firepot, who are in no way formally associated with Wildway Bushcraft, produce some fantastic stuff. You can find out all about them here.

The end of our epic trip

Canoeing into Spey bay

The end of our epic trip

Our epic trip ends in Spey bay. A fantastic expedition with a great group of people. If you’d like to reserve your place on our 2019 expedition click on the link below.

BOOK YOUR SPACE ON 2019’S TRIP NOW

 

When choosing a spot on which to have your campfire it is best to make sure that it is close to a water source or that you have plenty of water to hand. This will come in handy when it comes to clearing up your fire in the morning.Bushcraft is about existing in harmony with nature, not about overcoming or conquering it. This harmony means working with what nature has made available and not damaging it, unless absolutely necessary. This is particularly true when it comes to fire lighting. Campsites and woods are often littered with the remains of fires, charred ground and, more often than not, tin cans and the remains of meals.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the bushcraft skill of fire lighting without damaging the surrounding environment. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or click on the links below to skip to the section that interests you the most.

 Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more. 

Minimising your impact 

light a fire leave no trace


In reality, any interaction with the natural world is going to alter it in some way. From gathering dead wood to make a fire through to digging a latrine our very existence in nature, which we are part of, alters it in some way. As
bushcraft practitioners, however, we need to ensure that we minimise our inevitable impact on the natural world.

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Preparing your fire 

Leave no trace
When it comes to leaving no trace of your fire it is all about thinking ahead. This section shows how you make sure that you minimise your impact on the environment with a little bit of prior planning.

  • Ensure that you’re close to a water source
    When choosing a spot on which to have your campfire it is best to make sure that it is close to a water source or that you have plenty of water to hand. This will come in handy when it comes to clearing up your fire in the morning.
  • Choosing your materials
    When it comes to choosing materials with which to light your fire you should look for those that not only minimise your impact on the natural world but, also, of course, are suitable for fire lighting. Look for dead standing wood rather, than cutting anything off trees; not only is this good etiquette but also green, recently cut wood will not easily burn. When collecting firewood it is important to correctly gauge the amount that you need;  come the morning you don’t want to leave a smoldering pile of half burned logs.

Prepare your fire lighting materials in advance so that you are not scrabbling around for extra materials once your fire is going.

 

  • Preparing the ground
    After having gathered your firewood, it’s time to prepare the ground.  Begin by clearing the ground of all dead leaves and debris. Lay down a base of dead and dry wood, around a few centimetres in diameter. This base will not only improve the air flow to the fire but will also protect your kindling from the damp ground.

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more

Clear up after the fire

Leave no trace when wild camping
After having had your fire it is time to clean it up. Having carefully gauged the amount of wood that you will need on the fire you should be left with only a few embers in the morning, not half-burned logs.

 

  • Douse the embers
    Using the water that we mentioned earlier, dowse the embers. After having covered them in water put your hands into the mix to check that the ground below is cool.
  • Distribute the ashes
    Having checked that the ashes are cool scatter them in the area surrounding the campsite. Be sure to scatter them well, don’t dump them all in the same place.
  • Cover up the site of the campsite
    Having distributed the ashes cover up the place where your campfire was with surrounding materials. Do this is a way that is fitting with the natural environment.

Key pieces of kit

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.Please note that, with the exception of Bear Blades and Bushcraft – A Family Guide: Fun and Adventure in the Great Outdoors, Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

  • Knives
    Bushcraft knife Bear BladesWildway Bushcraft uses Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/

  • Bushcraft – A Family Guide: Fun and Adventure in the Great Outdoors
    bushcraft a family guide Whether it is a mini adventure into the woods and countryside, a camping trip or simply exploring your own back garden, it’s hard to get enough outdoors time, so what better way to do that than with the art of bushcraft? This beautifully illustrated book written by Wildway Bushcraft’s John Boe alongside Owen Senior, contains everything that both children and adults need to know to have fun and be safe in the outside world, including instructions on building shelters, foraging, tracking, tying knots, navigation and much more!
    Buy it on Amazon here
  • Fallkniven DC4Fallkniven DC4This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/ 
  • Tarps
    Tarp set-ups, how to set up a tarp from Wildway Bushcraft

    Here at Wildway Bushcraft we’re big fans of DD Hammocks and regularly use their 3 x 3 tarp; here’s what DD has to say about it.
    “ DD Tarp 3×3 offers reliable protection wherever you go. Its 19 reinforced attachment points offer a huge number of setup options, and it’s the tarp of choice for bushcraft & survival schools, the military and countless wild campers worldwide!”
    https://www.ddhammocks.com/ 
  • Axe
    Gransfor Bruks Small Forset Axe

    Copyright Gransfor Bruks

    John Boe, owner and founder of Wildway Bushcraft use the Gransfors Bruk Small Forset Axe which weighs in at only 900 gram (2lbs) and is small enough to fit in a rucksack whilst still being powerful enough to do most jobs.
    https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/

Further reading

Read more about the topics covered in this blog via the links below:

 

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more

Spring is in the air and nature is blooming. In this blog we’re going to take a look at five key trees for bushcraft in the UK. We’ll also cover some common bushcraft uses for these trees. As always, feel free to read the entire blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

Bushcraft and nature 

Trees for bushcraft


Unlike what is shown on some popular TV shows, bushcraft is not about overcoming or conquering nature; it is about living in harmony with it. Key to living in harmony with nature is understanding it, particularly when it comes to the trees around you. By knowing the names and uses for the trees which you come into contact with your time in the woods will be much more enjoyable and productive.

Silver Birch

Trees for bushcraft Silver Birch

One of the most useful trees when it comes to bushcraft the Silver Birch is easily identified by its white bark. Silver Birch often hybridises with the downy birch, the latter of which is, in terms of the UK, most commonly found in Scotland.

  • Bushcraft uses for the Silver Birch
    One of the most versatile trees in terms of bushcraft. The Silver Birch can be tapped for refreshment in early spring (for more information about tapping a silver birch read our blog here [link to: How to tap a Silver Birch]. The bark is also an excellent fire lighting resource, to learn more about using birch bark for fire lighting watch our video below.

  • Lighting a fire using birch bark

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Hazel

Hazel trees for bushcraft

 

Hazel is native to the UK, when it is not coppiced (as they often are) hazel can reach heights of 12 metres. In ancient mythology, a rod of hazel was used to protect against and ward off evil spirits.   Hazel is an incredibly springy wood and can easily be bent into a variety of shapes, which as we shall see, makes it excellent for bushcraft.

Alder

Alder trees for bushcraft

Alder is native to Britain although it is also found as far East as Siberia. Alder is known for its role in improving the fertility of the soil in which it grows. This is due to the bacterium found in the roots. This bacterium, Frankia Alni absorbs nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. The tree then provides sugars to the bacterium which it produces through photosynthesis.


Common Ash

Ash tree

The Common Ash, also known as the European Ash or simply the Ash is native throughout mainland Europe. When fully grown, Ash trees can grow to heights of 35 metres and live for around 400 years. Ash trees provide homes and/or food for a variety of species such as bullfinches, owls, redstarts as well as a variety of caterpillars and moths.

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Hawthorn
Hawthorn

Hawthorn is a native tree to the UK. The Hawthorn tree is also known as the May-tree, as it flowers in this month. For an interesting pub quiz fact, Hawthorn is the only tree in the UK to be named after the month in which in flowers

 

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

Key pieces of kit

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that, with the exception of Bear Blades and Bushcraft – A Family Guide: Fun and Adventure in the Great Outdoors, Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

  • Knives
    Bushcraft knives
    Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/ 
  • Bushcraft – A Family Guide: Fun and Adventure in the Great Outdoors
    bushcraft a family guide
    Whether it is a mini adventure into the woods and countryside, a camping trip or simply exploring your own back garden, it’s hard to get enough outdoors time, so what better way to do that than with the art of bushcraft? This beautifully illustrated book written by Wildway Bushcraft’s John Boe alongside Owen Senior, contains everything that both children and adults need to know to have fun and be safe in the outside world, including instructions on building shelters, foraging, tracking, tying knots, navigation and much more!Buy it on Amazon here 
  • Fallkniven DC4
    Fallkniven DC4
    This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/
  • Tarps
    DD Tarp and HammockHere at Wildway Bushcraft we’re big fans of DD Hammocks and regularly use their 3 x 3 tarp; here’s what DD has to say about it. “ DD Tarp 3×3 offers reliable protection wherever you go. Its 19 reinforced attachment points offer a huge number of setup options, and it’s the tarp of choice for bushcraft & survival schools, the military and countless wild campers worldwide!”
    https://www.ddhammocks.com/
  • Axe

    Gransfor Bruks Small Forset Axe

    Copyright Gransfor Bruks


    John Boe, owner and founder of Wildway Bushcraft use the Gransfors Bruk Small Forset Axe which weighs in at only 900 gram (2lbs) and is small enough to fit in a rucksack whilst still being powerful enough to do most jobs.   https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/

Further reading

Read more about the topics covered in this blog via the links below:

 

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

Stinging nettle tea is a staple of wilderness living. The tea is easy to make and the ingredients are bountiful at this time of year. Read on to learn more about how to make stinging nettle tea. As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

Why make stinging nettle tea?

Make stinging nettle tea

 

Stinging nettles have been used by native peoples for a variety of uses throughout history. Native Americans harvested nettles and used them for food in spring when other sources of food were scarce. In the UK, the nettle was one of nine plants mentioned in the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. An Anglo-Saxon charm aimed at treating poisoning and infection. Stinging nettles are also thought to promote lactation, stimulate hair follicles, treat kidney disorders, reduce joint pain and even act as a remedy against hay fever.  

Best time to forage for stinging nettles

Where to look for stinging nettles
When foraging for stinging nettles to make stinging nettle tea it is best to pick the leaves before they flower. When making stinging nettle tea, go for the leaves that are the youngest and therefore the most tender. This makes spring a great time to start foraging for stinging nettles. If you would like to know more about foraging, as well as other uses for stinging nettles read our blog Start Your Spring Foraging.

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What to look for when picking stinging nettles

Nettles are very high in vitamins A & D, particularly the younger leaves. When picking stinging nettles for stinging nettle tea it is best to pick the younger and fresher leaves. Don’t forget that when picking nettles, as with foraging for anything, don’t take more than you need and don’t take regularly from the same area of plants.

It is best to choose nettles that are further away from the beaten path and higher off the floor than might make them popular for animals to relieve themselves on!  

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

Making stinging nettle tea

Make stinging nettle tea

Making stinging nettle tea is a very easy business. You will need about one cup of nettle leaves for every two cups of water. Simply add the nettle leaves to the water and bring to the boil. The tea can be made stronger or weaker by adding more, or less, water. Once the water has been simmering for a few minutes strain the mixture into a cup, being sure that no nettles go through the strainer. Once the mixture is prepared it can be drunk straight away.

Further reading

Read more about some of the topics covered in this blog via the links below.

 

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.  

In this blog, we’re going to be looking at how to tap a silver birch.  When it comes to bushcraft in the UK, knowing how to safely, responsibly and correctly tap a silver birch for its sap is a fantastic skill to have under your belt.  Read on to learn more, as always feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Intro to silver birch

Betula pendula

 

The silver birch is one of only two native birch trees in the UK. Its Latin name is Betula Pendula in Celtic mythology the tree came to symbolise renewal and purification. The tree has strong fertility connections and is linked to the ancient Celtic celebration of Beltane – which has now morphed into May Day. The tree is one of the most useful trees for bushcraft in the UK. Its bark can be used for fire lighting, and, as we’re going to look at it this blog, it can be tapped for sap among many other uses.

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How to identify a silver birch 

Silver birch bushcraft UK

A silver birch is perhaps one of the easiest trees to identify in the UK. Its bark is, as you might expect from the tree’s name,white-ish/ silver and often sheds layers like paper. When mature, trees can reach around 30 m in height and form a light canopy, its leaves are light green, small and triangular-shaped.  Both male and female catkins can be found on the same tree throughout April to May. Silver Birch often hybridises with downy birch, the other native birch to Britain. 

Why tap a silver birch 

Birch sap can be consumed either fresh from the tree of naturally fermented. It contains only 18 calories per 100 ml, that’s less than ever coconut water for those that are interested in such things. It is also loaded with vitamins, proteins, amino acids, and minerals.  It has a variety of uses in folk traditions across Eastern Europe and in the UK was traditionally used to treat everything from rheumatism to the prevention of baldness.

How to tap a silver birch 

Birch sap is best collected during early spring, however, the recent cold snap might have delayed the prime time from collecting sap.  However, as spring comes on its way so does the time for collecting sap. The most important thing, however, when it comes to collecting sap from birch trees is to do it in a manner which does not damage the tree. The easiest way of doing this is to snip off one the narrower branches, where it splits off and forms another. This will enable the sap, if tapped during the tapping season, to seep out of the tree at quite a rate. Cuts can be made in the bark about an inch deep on a 45-degree incline, this will enable the sap to flow out at a steady rate. However, it is preferable, for the tree, to use the first method described.

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Respect the trees

Silver birch trees provide shelter and habitats for around 300 species of insects while woodpeckers and other hole drilling birds often nest in the trunk. Bushcraft is about living in harmony with nature, not overcoming it or battling against it. Whatever aspect of bushcraft your practicing you should treat nature with respect, this goes doubly when tapping birch. You should never over harvest one particular tree if you have to take the sap from the trunk itself then be sure to stop it up properly to prevent infection getting into the tree. It’s always better to just take it from the branch as we suggested earlier.

Key pieces of kit

Here are a few pieces of kit that might help you with your bushcraft in general and tapping a Silver Birch in particular. Have a look below and feel free to buy them via the links below. Keep in mind that, with the exception of Bear Blades.

Knives
Bear Blades Wildway Bushcraft

Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades. “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
http://bearblades.co.uk/   

 



Bushcraft – A Family Guide: Fun and Adventure in the Great Outdoors

 

Bushcraft-family-guide

 


Whether it is a mini adventure into the woods and countryside, a camping trip or simply exploring your own back garden, it’s hard to get enough outdoors time, so what better way to do that than with the art of bushcraft? This beautifully illustrated book written by Wildway Bushcraft’s John Boe alongside Owen Senior, contains everything that both children and adults need to know to have fun and be safe in the outside world, including instructions on building shelters, foraging, tracking, tying knots, navigation and much more!

Buy it on Amazon here 

Further reading

Read more about the topics covered in this blog via the links below:

Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
Click here to learn more.   

Preparing and cooking a fish in the wild is not only a great bushcraft skill, it’s also fantastic fun.
This blog won’t cover how to catch a fish, you can find more information about that here, but it will show you how to gut, prepare and cook a fish in the woods.

Read on to learn more.

As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.


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Gutting a fish in the wild 

Gutting a fish in the wild


What better than sitting down to eat a fish that you’ve just caught and cooked over a campfire. It is a truly special experience that pulls together several bushcraft skills and immerses one in the wilderness.  


This wonderful experience begins with, having caught your fish, correctly gutting it. Read on to learn more.

 

Gutting your fish in the wild: a step by step guide 

Having caught and killed your fish, you need to gut it. This should be done when the fish is as fresh as possible. Ideally, you will have a fire already burning or if not at least prepared and ready to light in a quick and effective manner. 



Learn more about preparing fin, feather, and fur as well as knife sharpening, shelter building, and fire lighting in our weekend bushcraft course.

 

Step 1: prepare your fish for gutting 

The first thing that you will need to do before gutting your healthy looking fish is to wash it and scale it. Depending upon the type of fish you might need to be careful around the fins which can often be sharp. In order to remove the scales from a fish, you will need to scrape a blade (gently and you don’t want to damage the fish) from the tail to the head of the fish.

Step 2: Cut open the fish

Select your sharpest knife and cut, from tail to head, along the length of the belly of the fish. It is important that your knife be razor sharp for this task, you just want to open the fish up – not impale it! To see how to sharpen a knife, take a look at this video that we did as part of our Facebook live series.

Step 3: Remove the entrails 

Slowly, using your finger in a ‘come hither’ motion, remove the fish’s entrails.  You may prefer to use a spoon for this task but however, you do it make sure that all of the entrails are fully removed. 

Step 4: Rinse the inside of the fish

Rinse the inside of the fish simply by pouring water and letting it run over and in the cavity.

Remember…

Don’t leave fish entrails just scattered about your campsite. Not only is this untidy and disrespectful it can also lead to animals, such as rats or even foxes, frequenting your campsite. Burn the entrails of the fish or seal them in a plastic bag and carry them out with you. 


Cooking a fish in the wild

Cooking a fish in the wild

 

With your fire lit and your fish gutted it’s time to start cooking your fish. There are several methods for doing this and we run through a few below. The most important thing to do though is to find out what works for you and what you enjoy!

Read on to find out more about bushcraft and cooking a fish in the wild.  



Learn more about preparing fin, feather, and fur as well as knife sharpening, shelter building, and fire lighting in our weekend bushcraft course.

 

Cooking fish in the wild:  split stick

Perhaps the best know bushcraft method for cooking a fish is the split stick.  Here is how to cook fish using this method.

  1. Choose a length of non-toxic wood,  such as willow or hazel, around 2m long and 5 cm thick. Split the stick lengthways down the middle for around 30 cm.
  2. Butterfly the fish so that it opens out and can be laid flat with the inner flesh exposed.
  3. Make cross sticks. These should be around the thickness of your finger and around double the length of the width of the butterflied fish. Remove the back from the sticks and sharpen them into a point at each end.
  4. Bring it all together – thread the cross sticks through the butterflied fish and fit the fish, now held open with the cross sticks, into the split stick you made earlier.
  5. Now, make a tripod to hold you split stick, or simply stick it in the ground with a supporting stick along the length of the main split stick, and cook your fish over the fire.

Cooking fish in the wild:  steaming

Steaming fish might seem like an elaborate method of cooking fish, but bushcraft is about being in harmony with nature; not ‘surviving’ or ‘overcoming’ it.  

  • Start with the fire

    Start cooking when your fire burning down to the embers, or use a ‘keyhole’ shaped fire pit from which you can scrape the embers without impacting on the fire. Lay several handfuls of sphagnum moss over the embers, so that the roots and mud of the moss face toward the fire. Place your gutted fish on top of this moss then cover with another handful of moss, placed with the roots facing towards the sky.
  • Wait for the steamWait until steam begins to rise from the moss, once it begins to steam then leave your fish to steam for around thirty minutes before testing if it is ready to eat. If the fish is ready then the skin should slip easily away from the flesh.



Learn more about preparing fin, feather, and fur as well as knife sharpening, shelter building, and fire lighting in our weekend bushcraft course.

 

Key pieces of kit 

Here are a few pieces of kit that we mentioned on this blog. Have a look below and feel free to buy them via the links below. Keep in mind that, with the exception of Bear Blades,  Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

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Knives

Bushcraft knife Bear Blades
Wildway Bushcraft uses Bear Blades.

“Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
http://bearblades.co.uk/   

Fallkniven DC4
falkniven DC4

This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/ 

Further reading

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