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.

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

 

One thing that we definitely have in the UK is weather – and we have a lot of it! Whilst other parts of the world may have more extreme forms of weather, from desert heat to perms-frost winters, few have a more unpredictable or swiftly changing weather pattern than ours. This means that factoring weather into your planning is a big component of successful bushcraft in the UK.

Weather reading

Knowing what’s expected is vital to good survival. Where weather can change quickly – sun to mist, dry to wet – the successful bush crafter will have planned ahead. Check the weather forecast and be aware of changes in clouds, wind direction/speed and air humidity that could mean trouble ahead. The famous movie trick of birds falling silent before a storm is a genuine fact of nature. Using such information to be aware of your surroundings is not just a bushcraft technique – it can make the difference between an enjoyable outdoor experience and utter misery.

Cold weather

The gap between ‘knowing’ how to start a fire and ‘being able’ to start a fire is huge. Theoretical skills are useless in true outdoor situations – learning a fire-starting technique and building your skills through practice and experience is vital. Try one of our Friction Fire-lighting Courses to develop this key life-saving ability. Packing fire lighting equipment on your bushcraft trips will allow you to know that you can start a fire if the weather becomes bad. A camp fire is not just something to keep your body warm, it’s also a way to heat food, to signal to others, and a potent morale booster. Being able to locate and dry tinder is also important, as is the skill of identifying good wood to burn.

Shelter is also necessary. A tarpaulin provides shelter in cold weather and gives a dry area in the wet. Cordage, either carried or made from natural sources, helps build a shelter. A tent is great if you have one, but other forms of protection such as lean-to shelters, pit shelters, tree platforms and even snow caves or trenches are ways to create a safe environment and use your body heat to keep you warm.

Water is vital in cold weather as well as warm, so make sure you remain hydrated whilst working to ensure your own comfort and safety. Don’t eat snow, regardless of what you see in films, it will reduce your core temperature to sometimes dangerous levels. Instead, pack it into a canteen and carry it next to your body to melt it, or make a snowball, pierce it with a long stick and place it near your campfire. Ensure the drips melt into a billy or saucepan or even a bark ‘dish’.

Hot weather

The biggest danger in hot weather is hyperthermia, or overheating. Often this is associated with the sun, but that’s not the only risk. Simply put, if the ambient temperature is higher than your body temperature, you cannot cool down naturally by radiating heat from your body – even if you sweat, you won’t cool down. Sunburn can dramatically increase your body’s surface temperature and put you at greater risk of the mental confusion, dehydration and eventual organ failure that are caused by extreme hyperthermia. Whilst this is rare in the UK, it should be considered when spending time outdoors in summer.

Protect yourself from direct sun by wearing, or making, a hat. Use natural shade or create a shelter to protect yourself from the heat of the day and be most active in early morning or late afternoon/evening. Drink more than you think you need to.

Wet weather

Just assume you’ll get wet – our climate makes that almost certain. If you spend more than a few days outdoors every year practising your bushcraft skills, you’re going to get soaked by rain, snow, sleet or mist at some point.

Not everywhere has tree cover, and where there is no tree cover, there is little or no fuel for fires – bear this in mind when planning your trip and carry material if necessary. Wind chill in wet environments can be exhausting. In wet and windy weather, ensure you have suitable clothing and that your core temperature remains high. Mist, snow and even rain can massively affect your ability to see your surroundings, understanding basic navigation, carrying a compass and map, and knowing where you are likely to find shelter can turn bad weather into an adventure, rather than a disaster.

So it’s been busy busy busy here!

I had my first bushcraft teaching session with some school children that have been removed from the main school system for various reasons.

I have been acting as a freelance member of staff for a adventure training company for about two months now and one day out of the blue they asked me to run a Bushcraft session, as they knew I am training to become an instructor when I leave the Armed Forces.

Great I thought, happy days!! What a great experience this is going to be.

When do you want me to do it I asked, oh we are picking up the lads in 20mins could you just throw something together!

So in a mild panic I raided my car boot and grabbed my bag, which luckily had a full set of bushy type things in it as I had only just got back from a trip and set off to pick up the boys.

When we got to the woods I set about teaching and what a buzz it was, I just loved it, passing on knowledge and watching these teenage kids engage with bushcraft was such a good feeling.

They set about setting up a tarp and hammock using knots which they had just learned and then gingerly test the hammock out to make sure it did not just slide to the floor was a joy to watch. They had a great time using team work and helping each other out which for theses lads is a big deal!

Next up was fire lighting and I showed them how to use a fire steel and showed them the best way to prep a fire. Then showed them how to make a feather stick, by the end of the fire prep lesson I had more good quality feather sticks than you could……. Well, shake a stick at!

So out came the bow drill and the best part of the day for me. I gave my lesson on how to light fire by friction and demoed how it should be done. Then I handed it over to the lads, one after one they all had a go and one after one they all got a good strong ember going, the look on their faces was priceless. They had learnt a new skill and archived there goal and what’s more experienced how fire can be made with with out man made items.

I am not sure who gained the most out of the session, them or me. I came away with a stronger resolve to make teaching bushcraft my living when I do leave the Forces. I had a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I had passed on some knowledge and in a very small way passed on a little bit of the bushcraft bug to some troubled city kids, and the kids, well if I understand slang and street talk it was SICK BLOOD, PROPER GOOD MATE!!

If you are interested in finding out about our bushcraft courses for groups of school children and young people then get in touch.

Last weekend I took my first trip out of the new year and ventured out to the local woods. This trip was going to be a chance for me to try out my new hammock and rigging technique, so I was a little nervous as I set off from the car park, not knowing whether I would be getting a good night’s sleep that night, but hey oh, in for a penny in for a pound as they say!

I walked through the woods enjoying the peace and quiet and thinking about how I was going to get this hammock off the ground, when I was interrupted by a ‘TAP TAP TAP’ sound just above my head. I looked up just in time to see a woodpecker fly off. What better time to take a break, hide myself away and see if it would come back.

I waited for about 30 minutes but it did not come back, so I set off again to try and find a good place to set up camp.

I came across a nice little corner of woodland and set about making camp. As the weather was nice and dry I went about hanging the hammock, as it turned out my previous worries had been unfounded. I tied a bowline knot in one end of some old climbing rope I had packed and then tied a timber hitch round the trunk of a suitable tree. After a few downwards tugs on the rope to make sure it did not slide straight to the floor, I tied a Marlin Spike Hitch in the hammock cord and clipped a carabineer though it and the Bowline and HEY PRESTO!

All I had to do then was stick up the tarp and my camp was all set up and ready to go.

With the camp all set up, off I went to explore and see what wildlife and goodies the wood had to offer. It was not long before I came across a rhodendrum shoot growing out of a felled pine tree, on its own nothing magnificent, but it made me think of nature’s endless cycle of life and death.

Right, less of the hippy stuff! I moved on and got off the beaten to see what I could find and came across a load of sliver birch trees. If you don’t already know, birch bark makes a great tinder and easily takes a spark, so I peeled a small amount off a tree and put it away in my pocket to dry out as it was still a bit damp. Removing the already peeling bark does no harm to the tree at all, but with all things in bushcraft you should do so responsibly, only take what you need.

Further in to the birch wood I found a fungus growing on the side of a standing dead birch tree.

Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) is also called razor fungus and can be used as a strop to give a blade a razor sharp edge. As well as giving your blade a super sharp edge it can also be turned in to a plaster. By slicing out a piece of the underside of the fungus and peeling it off you can make yourself a bushcraft plaster! Funny how nature works, the same thing that keeps your knife sharp also keeps your blood in when you cut yourself!

I started to make my way back to camp and came across loads of deer tracks. I followed them for a while but unfortunately I did not catch sight of any, but that’s how it goes sometimes. It is always a real treat to see a large wild animal in its own habitat and I must confess to being a little disappointed as I made my way back to camp.

Just as I was nearly back at camp, I found an owl pellet, I could not believe my luck. I have never found one before and this made me forget all about my lack of deer sighting success. On opening up the pellet it had two skulls inside it, one looked like a squirrel but I have no idea what the other one was.

I got back to camp and got a small fire going in my homemade hobo stove and got a brew on the go. Whilst I was waiting for the water to boil I made myself a little pot hanger to pass the time, it is a great little project to practice some cutting techniques and at the end of it you have a nice little pot hanger to hang your bushcraft billycan on!

So with the fire on, a warm meal and hot drink inside me, I retired to my hammock for the evening (which I am glad to say held), to listen to the birds and the sounds of the forest. This is one of the best times of the day when I am out in the woods, it is a time to reflect on the day’s events, jot down a few notes and reminders about things I have seen or things I need to look up and learn more about and above all, just be.

As the sun set and the fire burned itself out I laid there swinging gently in my hammock all warm and content with the world, and drifted off to sleep. I woke in the morning with the sunrise and the sound of a deer calling out and more importantly a great big smile on my face.

I packed all my kit away and made sure everything was as I found it and that no one would ever know I had been there, and left feeling refreshed and revitalised.

So if you have not ventured out for an overnight camp yet, get out there and enjoy, relax and if you’re really lucky, spot that deer that was teasing me! If you are new to camping, or want to test out your bushcraft skills with experienced instructors, then have a look at our Wildway Bushcraft courses and have yourself an adventure.