As autumn draws in around us and thoughts turn to winter our bushcraft practices adapt and change with the seasons. Though we might not have as much snow this year as we did at the start of 2018 there still might be enough to practice one of the most essential winter bushcraft techniques; lighting a fire on snow. In this blog, we will briefly recap the basics of fire lighting and then discuss some techniques for lighting a fire on snow. Read on to learn more or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Fire lighting essentials

Lighting a fire on snow
We’ve covered the basics of fire lighting in detail here, but essentially it comes down to correctly gathering and preparing your materials, not rushing or skipping any stage of the process and ensuring that you have all of the materials that you will need before lighting your fire.


If you are interested in more advanced fire lighting techniques then why not join us on our one-day friction fire lighting course or our weekend bushcraft course.

 

Is it worth the effort?

Before starting to attempt to light a fire on snow it is worth asking yourself it is worth the effort. If you are already cold, tired and wet, in short, if it is coming close to a survival situation, then you need to be sure attempting to light a fire will not exhaust your remaining energy reserves. You will need to judge each situation on its own merits and make your own decisions based upon the situation and your confidence in your skills.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Lighting a fire on snow

When it comes to lighting a fire on snow the key thing to remember is that it melts. This means that building a fire directly onto the snow itself will not only get your tinder wet but will also, should you manage to get it lit, melt the snow beneath it and disappear into it.

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Building a platform

One of the easiest ways to construct a fire on snow is to build a platform, either consisting of split logs or stones and place your tinder on top of it. This will give you a dry and firm base on which to light your fire.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Digging down

If the snow is of a reasonably shallow depth, like the kind that we might experience in the south of the UK in winter, then it is a better idea to dig down. Removing the snow until you have reached the level of the earth and then constructing a base on this earth (so as to keep the moisture out) will not only insulate the fire but will also ensure that it doesn’t melt the snow.

Preparation for lighting a fire in the snow

Lighting a fire on snow

Successful fire lighting depends on good preparation, in any weather, however, this goes double when there is snow on the ground. Ensure that you have plenty of dry tinder with you, and ideally keep it in your clothes where it can’t get damp, and plenty of firewood to keep the fire going throughout the night.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Kit 

Lighting a fire on snow

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when lighting a fire. Please note that aside from Bear Blades Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the brands or pieces of equipment listed below – we don’t get anything extra if you choose to purchase one of these items!

 

Further Reading

Here are some other blog posts that might interest you. Use the arrows to navigate.

This year, we’ve introduced our Intermediate Bushcraft Course. This course is designed to help you to improve your bushcraft knowledge and practical ability. It is a great progression for all of those that have taken part in our accredited Foundation in Bushcraft and Wilderness Living Skills Level 2 Course.  

 Our intermediate bushcraft course runs over five days and provides the foundation for intermediate to longer term living in the woods. This blog looks at what you will learn on the course and how this provides you with knowledge for intermediate-term living in the woods.

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

What will I learn on the course?

Bushcraft courses from Wildway Bushcraft

 

In short, too much to cover in just one blog! More broadly speaking though our intermediate bushcraft course will cover the following topics; skinning and butchery of large game, primitive food preservation techniques including smoking and curing, how to make glues, long-term shelter building, green woodworking, spoon carving, advanced fire lighting, traps and snares, foraging, basketry and much, much more.

We can’t possibly cover all of these topics in this blog but we will touch on a few of them in the sections below. The best way to learn these skills though is to sign up for our Intermediate Bushcraft Course.

 

Long-term shelter building

Intermediate bushcraft course

On our intermediate bushcraft course, you will be living in the woods for five days. This requires that you build a longer term shelter, we will also look at shelters for winter survival.

By the end of our course, you will have a shelter that is not only wind and waterproof but that is also equipped with a bed, a stool, and a table to work off. Remember, our intermediate bushcraft course is designed so that you can unlock your ability to thrive in the wilderness.

It is not a survival course! Instructors from Wildway will be on hand to give you advice, assistance and more than a few cups of tea and coffee.

 

Large game butchery

Large game butchery

While our IOL accredited Weekend Bushcraft Course covers the butchery of small animals and birds, our intermediate bushcraft course covers, in more detail, the butchery of large game.

In this case, it is likely to be a deer, one of the most commonly available large game animals in the UK. Our course is designed to provide a complete overview of woodland living, therefore the large game butchery lessons will also cover the skinning of large game and the preservation of food using primitive skills. Read on to find out more about primitive smoking techniques.

Primitive smoking techniques

Primitive smoking and curing techniques are just one of the elements of wilderness living that you will learn on our intermediate bushcraft course. These are some of the oldest techniques for preserving meat and fish and help you to maximise your food supplies.

Advanced fire lighting

advanced fire lighting

Building on from the fire lighting techniques we demonstrate and teach on our weekend bushcraft course our intermediate bushcraft course covers more advanced techniques. This includes traditional fire lighting methods, including the bow drill, and teaches this technique from a complete basis – from wood selection to getting an ember. Our instructors work closely with you to help you get the most out of your time in the woods.

Traps, snares, and foraging

Living in the woods on an intermediate to long-term basis means being able to find, catch and prepare your own food. We will cover trapping, snaring and foraging so that you are better equipped for living in the UK woods on a long-term basis.

Book your place

Book your intermediate place

Our Intermediate Bushcraft Course runs from 24th to 28th of September. Places are £335 for the entire week. If you would like to discuss payment plans or the opportunity to put down a deposit and then pay the outstanding balance later, please contact John Boe on john@wildwaybushcraft.co.uk.

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

 

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.  

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

Click the arrows below to select the blog post that you want to read.