In certain situations, the ability to source clean, drinkable, water from seawater is an essential survival skill. This blog looks at this vital coastal survival skill in more detail, as always feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most. While we don’t yet cover desalination on our current courses we do look at water sourcing and water purification on our weekend bushcraft course and our intermediate bushcraft course.

 

What is the problem with seawater?

Seawater into drinking water

‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’ as the Ancient Mariner said, but what exactly is the problem with sea water? Basically, seawater contains salt and humans can only ingest so much salt. The salt content of seawater is much higher than what we can safely consume. Our kidneys have to produce urine that has a lower quantity of salt than salt water, therefore in order to get rid of the amount of salt consumed by drinking salt water we would need to urinate more than we drink. This would mean that we slowly dehydrate ourselves while becoming thirstier.

Removing salt from salt water

Seawater into drinking water
Removing salt, from salt or rather saline water, involves separating the salt particles from the water particles. The easiest way to do this in the field is through evaporation. This process involves heating the water in one container until steam forms and can be collected in another container. The easiest way to do this is to run a piece of tubing from the first container through which the steam condenses when entering, into the second container.

This may not always be practical though so be prepared to improvise the tubing with plastic sheeting angled so that it catches the steam from the first container and allows the water to run into the second.

 

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

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire


Other considerations

Drinking water in the bush
Desalination is a complex and energy-intensive process. It can be difficult to get right and consumes fuel supplies. When looking for sources of water in coastal area desalination should be a last resort. Some other methods of gaining fresh water are outlined below.

  • Transpiration
    Water moves through plants, including coastal plants, from its roots through to its leaves, stems, and flowers where it evaporates. If the coastal area in which you are looking for water has a lot of vegetation or there is nearby vegetation inland then these plants are an excellent source of water. Simply throw a bag, such as a survival bag over the leaves of a nearby plant. Tie the bag off at the opening over the branch, then wait. In a few hours, the water from the plants should have evaporated and gathered in the bottom of the bag.
  • Search for other water sources
    Coastal areas have water running to them, through the form of rivers or streams. Finding where one of these water sources comes out and then tracing it back upstream will provide you with a source of freshwater. Be warned though that if you select water from a stream close to the beach then it is likely to be saline.

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What to expect on our bushcraft course 

Discover our weekend bushcraft course
On our weekend bushcraft course, we will introduce you to the principles of water filtration. Although we won’t introduce you to desalination we will show you how to source water and create a basic filter using natural materials.

We will also introduce you to the principles of shelter building, friction fire lighting, food preparation (fin, feather, and fur), knife skills, axe skills and many other bushcraft essentials. If you would like to develop your bushcraft skills further then our intermediate bushcraft course is for you. 

 

Click here to find out more about our intermediate bushcraft course. 

Kit mentions 

Here is a run through of some of our favourite kit, while we don’t use this for water purification we do take it out in the woods with us. 

 

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

Intermediate bushcraft course

Further reading 

Use the arrows below to navigate these related blogs.

 

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

If you’re thinking about booking our weekend bushcraft course then this blog shows some of the things that you can expect. There is so much more than you will learn on this course than could ever be covered here, but hopefully, this will give you some idea of what you can expect.

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

 

A word about our courses 

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

Wildway Bushcraft courses are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors.  Everything that we teach we have first-hand experience of using in a variety of situations. Our weekend bushcraft course is IOL accredited and aimed at those who want to delve into the basics of bushcraft and build upon their knowledge. If you would like to take your bushcraft skills to the next level then our intermediate course is for you, click here for more information on our intermediate bushcraft course

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INTERMEDIATE BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

  • A relaxed and friendly environment


    We believe that bushcraft is best taught in a relaxed and friendly environment, our instructors will be on site at all times and will be able to answer any questions that you might have. It’s not a military style, ‘survival’ weekend, there are no macho attitudes it is all just about helping you to get the most out of your weekend and as much hands-on experience as possible. If you’re interested in our women’s only course then click here for more information.

  • Flexible content

    While all our courses follow a syllabus (which we will look at in this blog) we are happy to tailor parts of the course to suit your interests. Just email Wildway Bushcraft or send us a message on Facebook and we can discuss how we can tailor the course to your interests with you.  Check out our TripAdvisor reviews here, and see what others had to say about our courses.

Read on to learn more about what you will learn on our weekend bushcraft course.

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INTERMEDIATE BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

 

Shelter building 

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

On our weekend bushcraft course, you will have the option to sleep under a tarp on the first night and in a shelter of your own creation on Saturday night. Remember though, you don’t have to if you don’t want to – you are welcome to bring a tent if you would prefer. 

Sleeping under a tarp

DD Tarp and Hammock

On the first night, we will provide you with a tarp and show you how to put it up. You will then have a chance to try it yourself and then spend the night under it. Don’t worry though, the evening is very relaxed and before you’re sleeping under a tarp you will have a chance to meet the rest of the group and enjoy some food cooked over the campfire. 

Building your own shelter

Bushcraft course build your own shelter

Throughout the course of the weekend, we will introduce you to some knife and axe techniques that will help you to make your shelter.  Towards the end of the day, you will have an opportunity to construct your own shelters from the materials that you find in our wonderful Dorset woodland. That evening you will have the opportunity to sleep in your shelter, by the side of your own fire. What a brilliant way to gain a real experience and understanding of the woods.

 

Highlights: 

  • Sleep under a tarp
  • Learn knife and axe skills
  • Sleep in a shelter that you’ve made by your own fire!  

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INTERMEDIATE BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

Fin, feather and fur prep 

Bushcraft cooking in the UK with Wildway Bushcraft

On our weekend bushcraft course, you will get the opportunity to butcher, prepare and cook fin, fish and fur. You will also get a chance to cook and eat the fish or small game that you have prepared for a fully immersive bushcraft experience. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to take part if you don’t wish to. If you’d rather sit it out then let one of our instructors know and they will help you to develop your bushcraft skills in another area while others in the group learn small game butchery.

We can also cater for vegetarians and vegans, just let us know in advance and we can sort another activity out for you!

 

Highlights: 

  • Prepare fin, feather and fur
  • Learn the skills of small game butchery
  • Cook and eat the food that you have prepared 

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INTERMEDIATE BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

 

Campfire cooking

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

On our weekend bushcraft course, we will introduce you to a variety of fire lighting techniques, including friction fire lighting, and the basics of campfire cookery.

Learn how to cook over a fire

Our instructors will guide you through making a variety of meals from bannock bread through to cooking fish, pigeon, and rabbit. As always, they will be on hand to answer any questions that you might have about cooking over a fire.

Learn how to light a fire

Of course, you can’t cook over a fire until you can light one! With this in mind, our instructors will introduce you to a variety of fire lighting methods, including the bow drill. Our instructors will demonstrate how to make and use a bow drill for you and then you will be free to make your own. Don’t worry though, you won’t be made to use a bow drill to light your fire in the evening.

Make your own fire and cook over it

After being introduced to the basics of fire lighting in the day you will be free to make your own fire next to your own shelter. You can cook over your fire or over the group fire in the centre of camp – the choice is yours. That night, if you choose to sleep in your shelter, you can keep your fire going late into the night to warm you as you sleep.

 Highlights:  

  • Learn different methods of fire lighting
  • Discover the bow drill, make your own and try and get an ember
  • Cook over a campfire
  • Have your own fire next to your shelter  

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INTERMEDIATE BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

 

Discover more! 

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

That’s just a snippet of what awaits you on our weekend bushcraft course! There is so much more that you will learn, far more than we could ever hope to fit in one blog post.  If you would like any more information about this or any of our courses then feel free to contact us today.

 

Kit 

Here is a some of the kit that you will be using on our weekend bushcraft course. Don’t worry though, you’re not expected to bring it with you. A full kit list for our weekend bushcraft course can be found here

 

Further reading 

Use the arrows below to navigate these related blogs. 

At this time of year, when the days are long and the sun is high in the sky, keeping hydrated when out in the woods can be particularly difficult. In this blog, we’re going to look at what dehydration is and how to prevent it. We’re also going to look at what to do what you haven’t been able to prevent dehydration; how to recognise the signs and how to treat it.

 


What is dehydration?

Learn about dehydration and how to prevent it

Simply put, dehydration is losing more fluids than you can take in.  Water makes up at least two-thirds of our body, it plays a vital role in keeping our organs and therefore bodies functioning. Dehydration, losing more water than your body can take in, impacts on your body’s ability to function.  While mild dehydration can be pretty easily treated more severe dehydration can very quickly become life-threatening and may require immediate medical treatment. The key to ensuring that mild dehydration does not become anything more severe is in recognising the signs of dehydration. 

 

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

Signs of dehydration 

Prevent dehydration with these tips
When out on the trail, backpacking or practicing bushcraft it can be easy to neglect one’s water intake and become dehydrated. That’s why it is important to keep an eye out for the following signs of dehydration – not just for yourself but for those in your group as well.  
With that in mind here are the following signs of dehydration.

 

  • Feeling thirsty
    This is a great indication of when you should drink. While some schools of thought might advocate only drinking at certain times not drinking when your thirsty may impact on your decision-making abilities. Therefore it is better to drink when thirsty rather than risk making a situation worse.
  • Dark yellow or strong smelling urine
    This is one of the best indicators of dehydration. Every time you go to the bathroom check the colour of your pee. If it is dark yellow or strong smelling then drink some water immediately after going to the bathroom.  If you are peeing little and not many times per day then this can also be a sign of dehydration.
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
    This is a warning sign of dehydration. If you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded then sit down immediately and drink water. In reality, though you shouldn’t ever let it get to this stage. By drinking water regularly and when thirsty you should avoid any feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Dryness of mouth and lips
    Dryness of mouth and lips is a key indicator of dehydration. Once again though it is better not to let it get to this point by ensuring that you are drinking regularly and whenever you are thirsty.

There are certain activities and/or conditions which can make you more susceptible to dehydration. These include, but are not limited to drinking too much alcohol; being out in the sun for too long, illness – such as vomiting or diarrhea. Diabetes can also make you more susceptible to dehydration.  

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

How to treat dehydration

Prevent dehydration with these tips

Treating dehydration begins with prevention. Taking certain steps to avoid becoming dehydrated in the first place is the best means of treating it, as they say, ‘prevention is better than the cure’.

When you’re out in the woods it is important to either be carrying in enough water to sustain you or to be sure that there are nearby sources of water which you will be able to access. To find out more about how to source and purify water take a look at our blog post here.

If you have underestimated the availability of water in your location or on your walk and yourself or members of your party have become dehydrated then there are a few steps that you can take to treat it. Remember though, if signs of severe dehydration are present then ensure that the casualty receives professional medical treatment as soon as possible.

The best way to treat dehydration is to rehydrate the casualty. Ensure that the person suffering from dehydration takes onboard plenty of water, sweet, water-based drinks, such as squash can also help the casualty to replace lost sugars. Salty snacks can also help to replace lost salts.

 

Kit

Here is a run through of some of our favourite kit, at Wildway we often take this kit out with us in the woods.  

Further reading

Use the arrows below to navigate these related blogs.

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

 

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.  

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.   

Spring is a great time to refresh your bushcraft skills and despite the recent cold snap, Spring is very much on its way.  With nature bursting into life once more and the days growing longer it is time to dust off your kit, or put away your winter kit (!) and brush-up on some bushcraft essentials. With that in mind here are some key bushcraft skills that you can brush up on.

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

Bushcraft skills refresh your bushcraft skills with WIldway bushcraft

Tarp setups

Warmer weather brings with it the time for tarps and bivvy bags. Lightweight and easy to set-up tarps and bivvy bags give you the chance to sleep in places that you wouldn’t be able to pitch a tent. The fact that they’re lightweight also means that you can cover further distances when out walking.

 

Learn more about tarp set-ups for solo campers and couples in our blog here.

 

Tarp set-ups, how to set up a tarp from Wildway Bushcraft

What to look for when buying a tarp

Tarps are generally pretty tough and versatile. You can’t go far wrong with most of the major brands or with an ex-army surplus. For more detail though we have got a little buyer’s guide below. 

Choosing the correct size of tarp 

When choosing a tarp for camping it is best to look for one that is the correct size for your needs. A 3 x 3 tarp will be perfectly sufficient for one person and, with the right set-up and a bit of cozying up, suitable for two.  For those camping in larger groups, it is worth considering whether you would be better off getting several smaller tarps rather than one large one. 

Choose one with multiple attachment points

Generally speaking, the more attachment points on the tarp the more versatile your set-up. The DD 3×3 tarp has, for example, 19 attachment points. 

Our review of the DD 3 x 3 Tarp  

The guys at Wildway Bushcraft have been using the DD 3×3 Tarp for a while now and I thought I would let you know our thoughts. The tarp has been used in all weather conditions throughout the year for all of our bushcraft courses in Dorset and Hampshire and we are very impressed.” 

Read our full review of the DD 3 x 3 Tarp here.  

Knife Sharpening

Refresh your bushcraft skills with Wildway Bushcraft

 

Spring is not only the perfect time to hone your bushcraft skills, it is also the perfect time to hone your tools.

Here at Wildway Bushcraft, we’re not too hung-up on knives. We know that some people get very attached to them but to us, they are tools; and like the rest of our tools, we want our knives to perform to the highest possible standard.

Learn more about knife sharpening, shelter building, foraging and
more in our
weekend bushcraft course.

What kit do you need for sharpening your knife?

Aside from your knife (obviously), there are just a few items that you need to get it razor sharp. If you’re sharpening indoors then a good set of water stones are perfect for the job.  If you’re out in the field then a simple sharpener such as the DC 4 from Fallkniven will do the job just fine.

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How to sharpen a bushcraft knife  

The video below was part of our Facebook live series if you want to have a say in the videos we put out then join our Facebook group

Watch our video on how to sharpen a knife here

Posted by Wildway Bushcraft on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Looking after your axe

Looking after your axe bushcraft skills from Wildway Bushcraft

An axe is one of the most useful pieces of bushcraft kit that you can have with you; possibly even more useful than a knife (depending on the situation).

Spring is the perfect time to work on your axe skills.  A high level of axe skills will make a lot of other bushcraft skills easier – shelter building, fire lighting and even spoon carving.  

Looking after your axe

Perfecting your axe skills begins with knowing how to look after your axe. A properly looked after axe will not only last you years but will also be easier to use; like a knife, a blunt axe is more dangerous than a sharp axe. For more information on how to look after you axe see our blog post here

Video – splitting birch

Having honed your axe it’s time to put it to the test. In the video below Wildway Bushcraft show how to split a birch with control and precision.

Control splitting birch. Very satisfying!

Posted by Wildway Bushcraft on Saturday, 3 June 2017

Foraging in spring in the UK

Nettles (Urtica dioica) wild bushcraft food in the UK

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Spring in the UK is the perfect time to refresh your foraging, plant and tree identification skills. Remember though that the golden rule of foraging is to never take more than you need and to respect the environment.  

Learn more about knife sharpening, shelter building, foraging and
more in our
weekend bushcraft course.

 

Learn more about foraging in the spring in the UK in our blog posts here.  


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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.

Knives

Refresh your bushcraft skills with 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/ 

Fallkniven DC4

DC4

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

Axe

Gransfor Bruks Small Forset Axe

Copyright Gransfor Bruks

John Boe, owner, and founder of Wildway Bushcraft use the Gransfors Bruk Small ForestAxe 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.

Hem

Tarp

Copyright DD Hammocks

For an entry level bushcraft tarp we recommend the DD 3 X 3 tarp.
https://www.ddhammocks.com/ 

Further reading

Click on the arrows below to see more blog posts that will be of interest.

Tarp set-ups

Tarp set-ups, how to set up a tarp from Wildway Bushcraft

Top tips for tarp set-ups.

Look after your axe

Looking after your axe bushcraft skills from Wildway Bushcraft

How to look after your bushcraft axe.

Foraging in the UK

Foraging in the UK

Foraging in the UK.

Learn more about knife sharpening, shelter building, foraging and
more in our
weekend bushcraft course.


 

Other bushcraft courses

Click on the title of the slides below to see our other fantastic courses.

 

 

How to Catch and Cook Fish in the Wild

How to catch a fish in the wild, how to cook a fish over a fire, these are all questions that we will be answering in this week’s blog post about bushcraft fishing techniques. While there is nothing better than enjoying freshly caught fish over a fire keep in mind the legalities.

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

 

Catch and cook a fish in the wild

Legalities of catching fish in the wild

If you are going fishing in England or Wales you will need a fishing licence. In Scotland while, for the most part, you don’t need a fishing licence, you will need the landowner’s permission. However, in England and Wales, you don’t need a fishing licence to fish off the beach, provided that you don’t catch certain species.

 

Also, remember that you should only use the techniques described below to catch fish in a true survival situation; it is illegal to catch fish using anything other than a hook and line in UK rivers.  

For licenses in England and Wales please see the Government site here. For rules surrounding what equipment you can use the UK Government has a breakdown here.  Now that’s the legalities done, let’s have a look at how to catch fish in the wild.

Methods of catching fish in the wild

Remember, these techniques should only be used in a survival situation, now that’s covered let’s take a look at bushcraft fishing techniques.

 


Fish for your dinner and sleep under the stars.

Join our canoe expedition to the wilds of Sweden. 

Bushcraft canoeing trips

 

Making hooks in the wild

The biggest challenge that the bushcraft practitioner will experience when making hooks in the wild will be making them small enough yet strong enough. In order to overcome this, one of the simplest hooks to make is the gorge hook. The gorge hook is a piece of strong wood or bone sharpened at both ends with the line tied in the middle. The fish then swallows the bait and the hook acts as a toggle inside the fish’s stomach.

Making a fishing line in the wild

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to catching fish in the wild using a hook and line is in making the line. It is always preferable to carry some with you, however, this is not always practical. In such cases, lines can be made from plants, particularly nettles which make a strong natural cord. However, your best bet for making a fishing line in the wild is to use animal hide. 

Learn how to make natural cordage, light a fire, build a shelter and much more on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here to learn more.

Join Wildway Bushcraft on a weekend bushcraft course


Catching fish in the wild using traps

In fast flowing rivers and streams, the most effective method for catching fish is by using a trap. Simple funnel traps are particularly effective in rivers of this type. The easiest way to catch fish in the wild using this method is to use interwoven saplings to guide the fish into a narrower and narrower funnel in which the fish are trapped by the force of the water against them. A similar method can be used to guide fish into an eddy on the river.  For more information about catching fish via this method, have a look at our blog on foraging along Scotland’s rivers.  

Cooking your fish in the wild

 

Catching and cooking fish in the wild

Cooking fish over a stick on a campfire in the wild, is there anything better? While it might seem intimidating at first cooking fish in the wild is actually quite a simple process. But before you can sit back and enjoy cooking your trout on a stick over the fire you need to know how to gut the fish.

How to gut a fish in the wild

Stick your knife into the belly of the fish, just below the gills, and cut downwards towards the tail. Having made the cut insert your finger use it to scoop out the guts. Cut off any bits of the internal organs that are dangling out, and burst the swim bladder – this may be inflated inside. 

How to cook a fish over a campfire

The easiest way of cooking a fish over a fire is to cut off the tail and fins, cutting down the spine – being careful not to sever the spine. Be sure to extend this cut down the side of the fish down behind the gills.  The fish can then be opened up, lifted away from its skeleton and then put on a split stick and roasted by the fire.

Other ways of cooking a fish in the wild

Another method for cooking fish in the wild is to split the fish straight down the middle and then drape each part of the fish over a piece of hard firewood.  The wood, with the fish on it can then be placed in the hot coals of the fire. Be wary though as the fish will not take long to cook using this method. Using either of the above two methods you can easily cook a whole fish in the wild!

Further information

 

Learn how to prepare fish, light a fire, build a shelter and much more on our
weekend bushcraft course.

Click here to learn more.

Weekend bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft

Canoeing is one of the best ways of exploring the wilds. More than that though it enables you to relax; to linger and to sit back. It connects us to an earlier way of life where explorers of old would traverse waterways in search of trade, knowledge, and lands anew; plus, it’s just darn good fun.

With all of this in mind, this week’s blog takes a look at how you can read the river when out canoeing. This doesn’t just mean being able to spot the rapids, it also means being able to pick out good places to set-up camp. First, though, we’re just going to recap some basic safety stuff.

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


Join us on a once in a lifetime trip as we embark on a five-day canoe expedition of the River Spey.
Click here for more information.

Basic safety when canoeing

Canoeing: Basic safety 

There are a number of canoeing accidents on the river each year,  what makes them even more tragic is that the majority could probably have been avoided.

Whenever you go out paddling it’s very wise to adhere to some basic rules of safety and carry some basic safety equipment with you. British Canoeing, the governing body of paddling sports in the UK recommends that whenever you go out paddling you;

  • Let others know where you’re going (same as you would if you were wild camping).
  • Be certain that the journey you’re doing is one that is within your capabilities.
  • Make sure that you never paddle the river alone.  

In addition to the above precautions, it is always wise to check the state of your equipment before every outing; check the weather forecast and to ensure that your boat has the buoyancy needed to keep it afloat should it capsize.  

Join us on a once in a lifetime trip as we embark on a five-day canoe expedition of the River Spey.
Click here for more information. 

Basic safety equipment

The safety equipment that you need to take with you should, at a bare minimum, include the following:

  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Buoyancy Aid
  • Bailer/sponge
  • Phone (in a waterproof bag)
  • Drinking water and snacks
  • Suitable clothing for the weather

For more information have a look at the British Canoeing page on safety.  

Key river features you need to know 

canoeing trips with Wildway Bushcraft

Now that we’ve covered some very basic features it’s time to take a look at key features of the river that you need to know.

Remember though, being able to really read the river relies on practice, lots and lots of practice.  First though, a word on the types of hazards that you are likely to come across on the waterways of the UK.

Three common hazards for canoeing

There are three common hazards that you are likely to come across when canoeing. Rapids are not included as they are obvious features that you’re likely to encounter. 

  • Sweepers
    Sweepers are overhanging branches or trees. While these might be easy to spot the current of the river can carry you into the bank and into the path of these sweepers.
  • Strainers
    Strainers are underwater objects, such as roots, collapsed trees, plant matter, etc. that can easily trap underwater objects – such as capsized canoeists.
  • Undercuts
    Undercuts are parts of the bank, underwater, that protrude further than the part of the bank above the water. Typically made of rock or earth undercuts can act like strainers and trap objects beneath them.

River Feature: Eddies

Eddies are spots on the downstream side of an object that has acted to interrupt the current, for example, boulders. Because of the way the current works the water in Eddies can often be flowing in the opposite direction to the rest of the river. The water in Eddies can be calm and still or, on occasions, violent and swirling. Eddies are also a fantastic space to catch fish such as trout.  

River Feature: Upstream ‘V’s 

A ‘V’ shaped flow of water that faces upstream should be approached with caution. Where the point of the V is facing upstream the likelihood is that there’s an object is at the point of the ‘V’ and is forcing the current either side of the point. Hitting the underwater object that’s forming the ‘V’ is obviously not a good idea, it could even flip the boat.

River Feature: Downstream ‘V’s

Where the point of the ‘V’ is facing downstream it indicates a (relatively) safe passage through the rocks, the safe passage being the middle or point of the ‘V’. 

River Feature: Constricted channels 

A constricted channel is a point where the river narrows sharply.  Water through this point will be flowing faster than at the previous section of the river that you were on. This is due to the same volume of water being forced through a narrower opening, this increases the pressure and therefore the speed of the water.

River Feature: Weirs

Weirs are man-made features that essentially act as a dam and hydraulically recycle the water. Weirs are exceptionally dangerous and should not be attempted without an expert guide on hand (if at all). 

Join us on a once in a lifetime trip as we embark on a five day canoe expedition of the River Spey.
Click here for more information.

Choosing a wild camping spot on the river 

Learn how to read the river

Wild camping alongside your canoe and the river that you’re paddling is one of the greatest joys of the outdoors.  In this section, we’re going to look at how to choose a good spot to wild camp along the river.  First though remember to ensure that you are abiding by the laws of the area, which in England and Wales means obtaining the landowner’s permission.  

  • Check the weather
    When camping near to waterways it is worth checking the weather [learn how to read the UK weather in our blog here]. If the weather is looking stormy, or if there is a lot of snow higher up the hills then it would be worth moving away from the river.
  • Check the height of the river
    Check the height of the river before pitching up. If the river is already very high then any overnight rain, even if it’s not torrential, could cause you to wake up with a tent in the middle of a river.
  • Be aware of wind tunnels
    That little piece of lowland between the rugged mountain peaks might look ideal but can act as a wind tunnel.  Consider how exposed your pitch is, particularly if camping alongside a loch, and the impact that the wind is likely to have on the temperature. In particular look out for Cols. These are  an ancient pathway formed by glacial movement and are the lowest crossing point between two ridgeways. Learn more about Cols here, be aware though; what constitutes a Col is a little bit like the debate between Munros, Marilyns and Nuttalls.

For more information on how to choose a wild camping spot read our blog ‘Where to camp? Tips for tents and shelters in the UK

Extra considerations when wild camping with canoes

Make sure that your equipment is properly packed! For more information on how to pack a canoe read our blog on what to pack for a canoe trip. Having found a suitable bank to spend the night make sure you secure your canoe, you don’t want to wake up in the morning and find your canoe drifting downstream.

Coming up

In next week’s blog we will be taking a look at foraging and fishing along Scotland’s rivers. In the meantime, in case you missed it,  learn all about how to pack for a long distance canoe trip in our blog: ‘Packing for a long distance canoe trip, what to take and what to leave behind’. 

 

Join us on a once in a lifetime trip as we embark on a five day canoe expedition of the River Spey.
Click here for more information.

Wildway Bushcraft river Spey

 

Sourcing and purifying water when on a long canoe trip or out wild camping in the UK can be a challenge.  
But, the ability to purify water is not only a key bushcraft skill, it can change a survival situation to into a thoroughly enjoyable time outdoors.

In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at sourcing and purifying water while out and about in the UK. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or click on the links below to take you to the section that interests you the most.  


Learn how to source water, build a shelter and forage for food on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here for more information  

Understanding contaminants in water

Purifying water
Sadly, the days of drinking water straight out of streams and rivers in the UK are long gone. Except for perhaps from springs in the wildest regions of the Cairngorms, all water in the UK should be considered to be contaminated.

This does not necessarily mean polluted in the sense that the water is obviously filthy, but polluted in the sense that it is contaminated with animal/human matter or chemical runoff from farmland.

Purifying water begins with understanding the risks involved. This means understanding the contaminants that you need to remove.

These can be divided into the following broad categories:

Broad types of contaminants

  • Turbidity

      Turbidity is the number of individual particles in water (the particles themselves are invisible to the naked eye) that, together, make the water appear cloudy or hazy. In short, it is the stuff in the water that makes it look ‘dirty’.

  • Parasites

    (With thanks to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions)
      Parasites in the waters of the UK can be divided into two broad types, multicellular organisms, and single cell organisms. The thing that they have in common is that, like all parasites, they survive in/on other organisms to the detriment of the host.

    •  Multicellular parasites in UK water include parasitic worms such as nematodes, cestodes, and trematodes.  Single-cell parasites include protozoa such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Cryptosporidium is very tolerant to chlorine disinfection and causes Cryptosporidiosis, resulting in severe bouts of watery diarrhea. Giardia causes Giardiasis and is typically contracted by drinking water infected with feces. If you’re infected with Giardiasis or have diarrhea then you should avoid handling food or utensils that might be used by other members of your party until you have been diagnosed as free from symptoms.
  • Bacteria

    The difference between bacteria and parasites is that while bacteria can live outside the human body parasites need a host in order to survive. Common bacteria found in water in the wilds of the UK, most likely from fecal contamination, include E.coli, Dysentery, Salmonella, and leptospirosis which is transmitted through rodent urine. These types of bacteria can produce a range of symptoms, most commonly sickness and diarrhea. Leptospirosis, however, can, in extreme cases lead to organ failure and internal bleeding, in the worst case scenario it can cause Weils Disease.

  • Viruses

    Like parasites, viruses need a host. The difference being that viruses only need a host to multiply. They are even smaller than bacteria. Fecal contamination of water often leads to diarrhoea but in certain cases can lead to more serious diseases such as Hepatitis A.

  • Chemical pollutants

    This is a serious one for the UK. Chemical pollutants in UK rivers often come from run-off from farmland pesticides and chemical fertilisers. This is particularly the case when the water source is near intensive farmland.

  • One thing to note

    It is worth remembering that ‘pathogenic organism’ is a blanket term for any organism that causes disease; so that covers viruses and bacteria (both multicellular and single cell) but not chemical pollutants.

Further in this blog, we will be examining how you can protect against the types of contaminants outlined above, however first let’s look at the effects of dehydration in the wilderness.

Remember though, broadly speaking, boiling water will kill all pathogenic organisms.


 Learn how to source water, build a shelter and forage for food on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here for more information

 

The human body and water

 


The human body cannot survive without water. This is what makes the ability to source and purify water such a key bushcraft skill. The human body can survive for around two weeks without food but only around two/three days without water, and that’s at normal temperatures with little or no physical exertion.

 

The need for water even on short trips

It may sound like an exaggeration but even in remote parts of the UK, such as Dartmoor, the ability to source and purify water can make or break a trip.  

Think of it this way; according to the hill walker’s bible – Mountaincraft and Leadership by Eric Langmuir – a person needs 30 -35mls of water per kilo of body weight per day.

This means that a 70kg person would need 2.1 -2.5 litres of water per day; when exercising this amount triples, making around 6.3 – 7.5 litres per day. So, a two day overnight wild camping trip on Dartmoor, with no stopping to replenish supplies, would require, as a minimum,  between 12.6 – 15 litres of water. One litre of water weighs one kilo – are you really going to carry 15 kilos of water with you?


A two day overnight wild camping trip with no stopping to replenish supplies, would require a minimum of between 12.6 – 15 litres of water.
Are you really going to carry 12-15 kilos of water with you?



Signs of dehydration


p

Dehydration impacts on your strength, power, and endurance. More severe dehydration hinders coordination and can, in the worst case scenario, lead to heat stroke and even death.

There is a debate about whether it is better to wait until you are thirsty to drink or to drink before you are thirsty. Ultimately though it is a personal choice. Bushcraft is about being at one with nature, not about overcoming it, so by following bushcraft principles correctly and planning ahead, you should never find yourself in a situation where water is a critical issue.

One of the best early warning signs of dehydration is urine colour. Darker yellow urine equates to more severe dehydration, while slightly yellower than normal urine equates to slight dehydration. A urine colour chart can be found here.


Learn how to source water, build a shelter and forage for food on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here for more information


Further signs of dehydration

  • Lack of energy and increased fatigue
  •  Complaints regarding temperature/clammy skin
  • Nausea


Signs of advanced dehydration

The following are signs of advanced dehydration and if experienced by yourself or by any members of your party then they should be treated immediately.

  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Shortness of breath


Keeping in mind that a loss of only 2% of body mass can be enough to impact on your ability to perform muscular work. So, for a 70kg man, a 2% body mass loss would equate to 1.4 litres (1.4kg) of water [source: Mountaincraft and Leadership by Eric Langmuir].

Sourcing water

It goes without saying that in order to purify water you need to first be able to source it. Generally speaking, the rule is always going smaller, stream rather than a river, spring rather than stream.


Use your geography

When it comes to finding water use your geography and look for the lowest elevation, this is particularly true if you’re at the top of a valley.

Animals/birds

Animals and birds can be good indicators of water sources. Look for grazing animals such as cows and wild horses which never stray far from water. If you happen upon a trail made by animals then follow it down hill until water is reached. 

Morning dew

Dew can be a great source of water. It can be collected using a T-shirt and a mop style action to gather dew. Be aware though that although rainwater is one of the purest forms of water you should still boil water collected from dew as it may have been contaminated by pesticides or other pollutants on the grass.

Rainwater

If it’s raining, which let’s face it is quite likely, then rainwater itself can act as a great source of water.  It can be collected by simply placing a suitable container outside the tent or by setting up a more sophisticated system using a funnel made from an old tarp or other material.

Snow, and  a word on melting it

When boiling snow it is important not to compact all that you intend to boil into the pan. What happens, in this case, is that the snow at the bottom melts, turning into water, a gap between the water and snow forms, the base of the pot gets too hot and can burn through. A better way of doing things is to add any water that you have to the snow that you’re melting or to only add a little bit of snow at a time.



Learn how to source water, build a shelter and forage for food on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here for more information

 

Purifying water


Broadly speaking, water purification falls into two main categories; boiling and chemical.

However, before you start purifying water it is best to remove the turbidity  that we discussed in the first part of the blog. Remember that turgidity is particles that are individually invisible to the naked eye. The best way of removing turbidity  from water is by using an old Millbank bag or brown filter bag (these are available from various online outlets).

Once you’ve removed all the sediment and turbidity from water then the time has come to purify it. Let’s look at the two main options for water purification.


Chemical water purification 

Chemical water purification is not as surefire as boiling water. Some, such as chlorine dioxide will deactivate most pathogenic organisms. Other chemicals, such as chlorine will kill the majority of pathogenic organisms.
Activated carbon filters can remove certain, but not all types, of chemical pollutants.


Boiling water purification

Boiling is the best and safest way to purify water.  Bring the water you want to purify to the boil and then hold it on a rolling boil for four minutes. This might be slightly more than is needed but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Boiling will kill all pathogenic organisms but it will not remove any chemical pollutants.

Of course, being able to boil water means being able to make a fire. To learn more about fire lighting in the winter read our blog ‘Lighting a fire in the winter: Tips for UK bushcraft and camping

 

Learn how to source and purify water on our weekend bushcraft course.
Click here for more information