Summer is well and truly here and with it comes an increase in popularity of the humble bivvy bag. While an option in winter many, perhaps understandably prefer to stick to tents. When it comes to summer, however, there’s not a lot that can beat the experience of sleeping out in a bivvy bag.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the benefits of the bivvy, run through a few options of bivvy bags and then provide you with a description of the bivvy experience that you can have on one of our weekend bushcraft courses.

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

Benefits of the bivvy

In this section, we’re going to take a look at the benefits of the bivvy. Keep in mind though that these are just our opinions, everyone experiences the outdoors in different ways.  

Sleep anywhere in a bivvy bag
Sleep anywhere

A bivvy bag gives you the ability to sleep in places where you just couldn’t pitch a tent. Tuck up behind the rocks close to the summit of the mountain or relax, on your inflatable mat, and in your bivvy bag on a stretch of beach.

 

A word on sleeping anywhere

A word on sleeping anywhere, wild camping is illegal in England and Wales outside of Dartmoor, although it may be unofficially tolerated elsewhere. If you do choose to go bivvying on Dartmoor, elsewhere in England/Wales or in Scotland then make sure that you have the skills to leave absolutely no trace. Your presence should not impact on the environment in any way, leave your campsite as you found it and carry out all rubbish – even if it isn’t yours.

 

Experience the outside

As great as tents are, and they certainly have their place, they do place a barrier between you and the environment. With a bivvy bag though, no such barrier exists. You can remain warm, and most importantly dry, inside your sleeping bag, inside your bivvy bag, while totally immersed in nature, watching the stars as you fall asleep.


Lightweight

We will look at the weight of bivvy bags in the next section but generally speaking they are lighter than a tent. What is certain is that at the lower end of the market a bivvy bag will weigh in much, much lighter than a tent. What this means is that your overall kit weight is lower, helping you to make up more miles during the day.  

 

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

Sleep anywhere bushcraft bivvy


Which bivvy bag is for you?

Ah outdoors kit, always a topic that generates a lot of discussions. The opinions in this blog are just that, opinions. Each person will have their own preferences when it comes to kit and decisions can really only be made with experience. Also, no one piece of kit will do for all situations, the demands on your kit in a summer in the UK are going to be very different from the demands of a Canadian winter. One final point of note,  Wildway Bushcraft do not benefit from any of these companies or products – we don’t make any money if you chose to buy one!

  • Snugpak
    Snugpak have a, deservedly, good reputation in the outdoors world. Their bivvy bag is great from the UK weather. It weighs in at 300 grams, is fully waterproof and breathable. The standard version measures 228 cm long though an extra large version is available. It retails for around £70.
    https://www.snugpak.com/outdoor/bivvi-bag
  • Alpkit
    Alpkit’s Hunka and Hunka XL are fully waterproof and breathable bivvy bags weighing in at 330 grams and 490 grams respectively. The XL measures 235 cm in length while the standard measures 215 cm. The Hunka retails for around £48 while the XL goes for £65.
    https://www.alpkit.com/products/hunka-xl
  • Rab Survival Zone Bivvy
    The Survival Zone bivvy bag from Rab weighs in at a very light 422 grams and measures 240cm in length. Fully waterproof and breathable with a very small pack size the Rab Survival Zone retails from near enough £95 making it one of the most expensive on this list.
    https://rab.equipment/uk/survival-zone-bivi
  • Ex-Army
    Army surplus bivvy bags, British and Dutch seem to be popular, are a very cost-effective way to start your bivvying adventures.  Hooped bivvys, that is bivvy bags with one short pole forming a half-hoop over the head in order to create more space in the bag, are popular design styles in this genre. There is a huge range of army surplus bivvy bags out there and price, weight, and quality vary hugely. Go and visit your nearest army surplus store for a better understanding of what would suit you.

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

Canoe the river Spey bivvy on its banks on our bushcraft course


Bivvying on our weekend course

The first thing to note is that our weekend bushcraft course is not a survival exercise. If there is anything that you’re uncomfortable with just let one of our instructors know, likewise you are free to bring a tent to sleep in to help you get accustomed to the woods or to go the whole hog and sleep out under the stars. So, what can you expect, it terms of bivvying, on our weekend bushcraft course?

Our first evening in the woods

On the first evening of our weekend bushcraft course, you will be given the chance to sleep, in your bivvy bag, under a tarp. This will not only get you accustomed to our woods but it will also give you a chance to learn about and practice your camp set-up. Most importantly though, it will give you a night out under the stars (visibility of stars not guaranteed.)

Building your own shelter

The second evening of our weekend bushcraft course will, among many, many other things, give you a chance to sleep out in a shelter that you have built yourself. This is a great opportunity to sleep out without a tarp, close to a fire, truly in amongst nature.

Bushcraft course build your own shelter

Bushcraft, not survival

At Wildway Bushcraft, we teach bushcraft, not survival. We’re all about living in harmony with nature not about overcoming it.  That’s why our weekend bushcraft courses focus on your learning if there is anything that you’re uncomfortable with, let our instructors know and they will do their best to help you. So, if you would rather sleep in a tent than under a tarp, that’s okay with us.

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

 

Kit

We’ve already mentioned quite a few bivvy bags that might suit your needs, what follows here is a list of other kit that you might find useful when bivvying out in the woods.

  • Fallkniven DC4
    Fallkniven DC4
    This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  

    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/ 
  • Knife 
    Bushcraft knife Bear BladesWildway Bushcraft uses Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/   
  • Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

    Bushcraft axe

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

     

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

 

Further reading

Use the directional arrows to navigate other posts that might be of interest.

 

 

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

Foraging for All the Family

Bushcraft is something that is open to all the family, and foraging is a great place to introduce bushcraft skills to younger children. Remember the golden rule of foraging though – NEVER EAT ANYTHING UNLESS YOU’VE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED IT AS SAFE. This rule needs to be stressed even more if you’re introducing children to foraging, driving home the importance not to eat anything unless they’ve shown it to an adult first.

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

Read on to learn more about foraging for all the family.

family bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft course

Legalities of foraging in the UK 

First, we’re going to take a look at the legalities and ethics behind foraging in the United Kingdom.

Foraging in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Foraging in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is governed by a set of laws and also ethics. Provided that the food you are foraging is not on private land and therefore you’re not trespassing, then you can forage food provided that it is not for commercial purposes.  The Theft Act of 1968 states, “A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks, unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purposes.”

However, the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 states that it is illegal to uproot plants without the land owner’s permission.  It is also illegal to forage and uproot plants in areas of special scientific interest.

Foraging in Scotland

The legalities around foraging in Scotland are covered by the outdoor access code. Like England, Wales and Ireland though it is illegal to forage on sites of special scientific interest. For more information please see the Scottish outdoor access code, this is also a great resource for understanding the legalities surrounding wild camping.

That’s the legalities out of the way. 


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.

Bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft

Foraging as a family

Foraging as a family is not only a fantastic activity, getting you outside and into the fresh air. Like many bushcraft skills, it can give you and your family a wider understanding of, and a deeper connection to, nature.  Foraging as a family begins with…

Understanding the foods available to forage

The ability to forage for food as a family (even on a minor scale) is based upon the foods available. This, of course, is dictated by the area in which you live. To begin understanding the foods available for you to forage in the UK it is worth asking around, looking for foraging groups that might be available or purchasing a guidebook. The Woodland Trust also has an excellent online section about foraging – find out more here. We will look at the types of food available to forage later but first…

A word of warning on children and foraging

It’s great to get children involved in foraging but, it goes without saying, that you make it absolutely clear that they are not to eat anything that has not been identified as edible by an adult.

Choosing a spot to forage

The spot that you choose to forage in will largely be dictated by two factors – what land is available for your use and what type of food are you hoping to find? The latter will, of course, be largely driven by the season.

In terms of land, some of the best places to forage in the UK are in hedgerows and woodland, luckily enough most of us are not too far away from either.

Commonly available UK food for foraging 

At this time of year in the UK, the earth is starting to shake off winter and the first signs of spring are emerging. What follows is obviously not an exhaustive list of foragables in the UK at this time of year but rather a highlight of some of the most commonly found spring plants.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 

Dandelions are very commonly found throughout the UK. What most people don’t realise is that they are edible. The plant (all of it) can be eaten raw or cooked and make an excellent addition to salads.

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettles might be one of the UK’s most prevalent plants. While they are well known for stinging the unaware they also make good tea. Make sure that you wear gloves when picking them and aim to pick the tips, these are the tastiest bits.

Children and foraging 

Here are a few top tips on how to get children involved in foraging. Remember though that children must understand not to eat anything that has not been identified as safe by an adult. With that in mind here are our tips…

Build an understanding of where food comes from

At the basis of foraging is a close connection with where our food comes from. It’s important for children to understand this harmony with the wild and the fact that salad doesn’t naturally come pre-washed and bagged.
This understanding will not only help children overcome any worries that they might have about eating food, identified as safe, but it will also teach a respect of nature. After all, bushcraft at its heart is about being in harmony with nature. 

Get the books out

Like most things in life, foraging is best learned with a mixture of theory and practical knowledge. Get the books out with your children and run through the pictures together of edible plants that you are likely to encounter out in the wild. Run through the key features of these plants, what distinguishes them from surrounding plants and any similarities that they may share with inedible plants that you might also find.

Incorporate wild foods into everyday life

Foraging doesn’t have to be about being totally self-sufficient, it’s highly debatable whether that is even possible in the UK. Rather, it can be about incorporating wild foods into everyday foods. Go out and see what you can find that can be incorporated into a salad or stir-fry at home. By adding in wild foods to those that you are eating at home you help to break down the barrier between foods that children might consider ‘wild’ and those they consider ‘normal’.

Further information 

Here’s some more information for people that are looking to get into foraging as a family.

Our recommended book

Written by Wildway Bushcraft founder and director John Boe along with Owen Senior, Bushcraft – A Family Guide and Adventure in the Great Outdoors  is a great resource for families looking to get, not only into foraging but also into bushcraft.

Other blogs that you might like

To learn more about foraging check out:


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.

Weekend bushcraft course

There is little better than getting away from it all and paddling the rivers of beautiful Scotland. However, knowing what to pack for a long canoe trip (and keeping your kit dry) can be a difficult undertaking. In this latest blog, we’re going to show you how to decide what to pack and how to keep it dry.


Fancy canoeing the wilds of Scotland? Then our River Spey  expedition is for you.
Click here for more details and to book your place on this once in a lifetime trip.


Please feel free to read the whole blog or click on the links below to take you to the relevant section.

Packing for a long distance canoe trip – clothing

Packing clothing long distance canoe trip
Correct clothing is essential for any outdoor trip. You need to balance warmth with comfort, and wear materials that dry quickly – so no cotton on the river. For an introduction to the layering system read our blog on reading the weather in the UK. Here’s our essential guide to clothing for long distance canoe trips.

  • Base-layers:

    Go for thin, wicking, base layers made of a material such as Merino wool.

  • Warm second layer:

    Go for a thin yet warm second layer, such as a light-weight fleece.

  • Additional layer:

    On top of your second layer, you will need a fleece jacket or something similar to help keep the warm air in.

  • Water/windproof layer:

    Finally, for your top, you will need a thoroughly waterproof (not water resistant) jacket that will also act as a windbreaker when out on the river.

  • Trousers:

    In addition to your thermal base-layers, you will need waterproof trousers, these can be swapped out for your normal walking trousers when you’re off the river. Alternatively, you can invest in dry trousers.

  • Hats and gloves:

    A warm pair of gloves and a hat are essential on the river. Your hat not only needs to keep you warm but also needs to keep the sun off your neck, remember it’s possible to get sunburned even if it’s’not summer.

  • And just in case…

    You will need a spare of all of the above, this is known as your ‘ditch kit’. The idea being that, should you fall in, you should be able to get dry and warm and then continue your journey.

 

Our River Spey canoe expedition is a trip of a lifetime through the wilds of Scotland.
For more details and to book your place on this trip click here.

 

Packing for a long distance canoe trip – other essentials

Packing for a long distance canoe trip other essentials
It is not just about the clothes. When
packing for a long distance canoe trip you also need to consider where you will sleep; personal hygiene, how you will cook and lots more. With that in mind, here are a few other essentials that you should take with you…

  • First aid kit:

    Your personal first aid kit should include any personal medication, painkillers, a standard ‘cuts kit’, blister kit and any other equipment that you might need, taking into account, of course, your proximity to civilisation.

  • Tent/Tarp:

    This one should really go without saying, but just in case it doesn’t – be sure to take with you a complete sleeping system, whatever that might look like, including sleeping bag and Thermarest/Karrimat or equivalent.

  • Stove/cooking equipment:

    We’ll touch on cooking in more detail later in this blog, but when going on a long distance canoe trip you need to consider your cooking options. Small gas or meth stoves are ideal for evening meals and coffee in the morning, but if you’re going to be around open fires and in a large group then a Dutch oven or two can be the way to go.

  • Wash kit:

    A personal wash kit is an essential when out in the wilds for any amount of time. Include, at a minimum, toothpaste, toothbrush, biodegradable shampoo and soaps and a small towel. Sunscreen can also be a good idea.

  • Canoe equipment:  

    A buoyancy aid is a must, choose one that has pockets in that can be used for storing your personal survival kit. A helmet is also a must, particularly when rapids are involved. Also be sure to pack knee pads, or an old karrimat to kneel on and (of course) your paddle!

  • Other stuff:

    Of course, like a long hiking trip, a long canoe trip has an extensive and changing kit list that alters based on the season and location of your activity. A few other things that we suggest include dry bags, mosquito spray, and a bug head net.


Wild camp along the banks of the river Spey.
To find out more details and to book your place on this trip click here.

 

Packing for a long distance canoe trip – meal planning

Planning for a long distance canoe trip - meal planning

For this section of the blog, we’ll be looking at meal planning on our River Spey canoe trip. Each night of our trip we will be wild camping along the route, the trip is self-catered – so you will need to bring your own food.

  • Go for dried foods:

    Obviously, any fresh food that you decide to bring will need to eaten first – before it spoils. Longer trips will need dried and/or dehydrated foods (just add water), dry foods – such as lentils, pasta, etc. , and smoked/dried meats such as salami/chorizo.

  • Make lunch easy:

    The last thing that you want to be doing when you’re out on the river is to have to stop and spend hours making lunch in the middle of the day.  When it comes to lunch, pack high-energy foods that can be easily assembled and consumed without the need to stop on the shore.

  • Measure out the portions

    Measure out the portions of meals such as bannock bread, biscuits or loaves of bread and store these mixed measures in zip lock bags. This means that all you need to do when it comes to cooking is add a bit of water.

 

No matter your level of ability our experienced and trained course leaders will provide expert tuition while you canoe the river Spey.
For more details and to book your place on this trip click here.

 

How to keep your kit dry on a long distance canoe trip

Keeping your kit dry o

Let’s look at what you need to keep your kit dry across the length of your canoe trip. Wet kit can not only ruin a trip but could also quickly turn it into a survival situation.

  • Dry Bags

    PVC tarpaulin dry bags are an essential part of any paddlers kit. Available from a number of manufacturers in a variety of sizes dry bags can be used to store all sorts of kit on your journey.

  • Dry Barrels

    Dry barrels or dry drums are fantastic ways of keeping your kit safe when out on the river. It’s worth separating your kit in these barrels out and wrapping it in plastic bags or the like in case anything wet is placed in the barrel (wet clothes for example). These waterproof barrels can be picked up on sites such as eBay for not too much money, just make sure that the lid is ‘locked’ on with a lockable metal strap.

 

How to pack your kit in your canoe

When it comes to packing for a long distance canoe expedition it is important to get it spot on as everything you will need for the trip will be in the boat. Here are a few key considerations when packing your boat.

  • Stability:

    Pack your kit low and along the centre of your boat, if possible always try to pack your boat while it is in the water, this will help you see the impact of the weight of your kit.

     

  • Security:

    If the water that your paddling is going to be calm then you can get away with just throwing your bag in the bottom of the boat. However, if you’re expecting it to be a little choppy then leashing it to the seats or any part of the boat can be a good idea. Lashing your kit to your canoe also enables you to move it around and change the way the weight is distributed across the canoe. For really rough going then you’re going to need to lash your kit to the bottom of your boat. Remember, keep a knife handy in case you need to cut the rope.

  • Access:

    Store your kit in a logical manner. Keep elements that you are likely to need, (such as lunch or a first aid kit) within easy reach. Navigation equipment, signaling devices and the like need to be kept near to hand.

 

Canoe the spectacular Scottish Highlands, join us on our river Spey expedition.

Click here for more information. 

Canoe the River Spey

It isn’t just enough to have the right tools for bushcraft, looking after them is extremely important too. At times an axe can be more valuable than a knife, so it’s worth caring for it correctly.

You can easily protect your axe by oiling it after each use and making sure that you never put it away when it is wet.

Here are our simple tips for caring for your axe.

Avoid getting it wet

Some good quality axes have heads made of non-stainless steel. If the head gets wet and is allowed to stay damp for a while, it can quite easily rust and shorten the life of the axe. So it is best to avoid using soap and water to clean the axe, especially as this can also remove much of the oils and wax that you will be using to protect it.

The axe head

Sometimes bits of residue from chopped wood will be left on the bit of the axe and can be tricky to remove. So to clean it, all you need to do is take a knife and scrape off the debris.

Cleaning the head can be done with a good coat of Vaseline rubbed in then wiped off. This helps to remove the dirt without damaging the axe.

You can protect the axe head by using oil. Any oil will do. Gun oils are good for creating a dry finish on the axe head. Apply a thin layer of oil all over the metal of the axe head and then remove any excess with a cloth. Allow the oil to dry off as much as possible.

The axe handle

Most traditional-style axes are made of wood. To preserve and maintain the finish of the handle, you can apply a coat of boiled linseed oil now and again. Before using the oil, make sure the handle is clean, then apply boiled linseed oil to the handle with a rag or a small paint brush. Make sure you coat the top and bottom of the handle as this is often where water can get in.

Once the handle has been completely coated in the oil, take a cloth and remove the excess and leave the handle to dry. This process will provide a layer of protection to the axe. As you continue to add layers, you will build up a good, resilient layer of finish on the handle. The handle will eventually darken over time, but that isn’t a problem and won’t affect the axe’s use. To remove the dark colouring you can give it a light sanding, but make sure you oil and wax the handle afterwards.

Like with the head, you need to keep the handle away from moisture. If the handle is allowed to be wet then it will start to rot. But you also must make sure that the handle doesn’t dry out either, as this will cause the handle to shrink and could cause the head to become loose.

Storage

Your axe should be stored in a cool, dry place. Between 5 and 20 °C or 40-70 °F) is ideal. Not storing your axe properly or allowing your axe to get repeatedly wet, can cause the handle to loosen and result in the axe becoming unsafe.

If you take the time to properly look after your axe, then it will continue to stay in great condition and you will be able to enjoy many years’ worth of use from it.

To really get to grips with using your bushcraft axe, join our bushcraft axe skills and charcoal making weekend course, ideal for anyone who wants to become skilled with using an axe.

 

These days we tend to rely on using maps and technology to help us get around, but believe it or not, it is possible to find your way around without modern gizmos. It is a skill you can practice anywhere.

A compass can help you test out your natural navigation skills and is a useful back-up if you do get lost. Just make sure that the big red arrow is always pointing north.

Different types of natural navigation

Shadow stick

By using a long stick, you can find your direction using the shadow cast from the sun. Place a straight stick about one metre long into the ground. The sun will now cast the shadow of the stick. Mark the end of the shadow and this becomes your west point. Wait 15 to 30 minutes and as the earth rotates around the sun, the shadow will move.

Mark the shadow again and this will become your east point. You will now have your east-west line. If you stand on your east-west line with west on your left and east on your right, you are looking north.

Tree and moss growth

Where trees tend to grow upwards towards the sunny south, moss prefers the cold damp north. Find a lone tree out in the open. It is generally thought that the side of the tree with the most growth indicates south. The north side will have less growth and what growth is there will be pushing upwards towards the sun.

You will be able to find your north-south line and once you know that you can then work out the east-west line. The more trees you find leaning towards the sun and the more moss patches hidden in the shade of the tree, the more chance you will have of finding a good indicator of north and south.

Watch method

For this method, you need an analogue watch, which will act as a compass. If you are in the northern hemisphere, lay the watch flat and face up in your palm, making sure the face is parallel with the ground. Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun. It does not matter what the time is as long as it is accurate. Now all you need to do is divide the angle between the 12 o’clock mark and the hour hand. This will give you the south-north line. In the southern hemisphere, you will need to point the 12 o’clock mark at the sun rather than the hour hand. This will give you a north-south line.

Night navigation

Stars

For this method, all you need is a clear night sky and to be able to identify the Plough. The Plough, also known as the Big Dipper, consists of seven stars and looks like a large pan. It is part of the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation. Once you have identified the Plough, locate the last two stars that form the pan section (furthest away from the ‘handle’) and follow them upwards in a straight line by four times their own distance and you will have found the Polaris, or the North Star. The star sits directly over the North Pole, so if you walk towards it, then you are heading north.

Moon

This method only works with a crescent moon. Draw a straight line down from the top part of the crescent to the bottom point and follow that line to the horizon. Where you meet the horizon is south.

You can check whether you have got these methods right by using a compass, or the compass app on your phone. Once you have developed good navigation skills, you can confidently roam freely whilst enjoying the great outdoors.

Come and join us for an adventure out in the woods on our of our bushcraft courses. Visit our courses page for more details or get in touch.

 

When you are out in the woods, you cannot rely on there being toilets close enough for you to use. It is inevitable, especially when camping for at least a couple of days, that at some point you will have to go to the toilet in the woods.

Preparation

Before you head out to the woods, if it is likely that you will need the toilet while you are there, consider your diet in the days running up to your camping trip. A diet rich in fibre and staying well hydrated for at least two days before you set off is recommended.

When you arrive at the campsite, think about where would be best for you to go to the toilet. Have a look around and when you find a suitable area, you might want to dig your hole now before it gets dark later on. You must make sure that the toilet site you choose is also a good distance from footpaths and water sources.

Going to the toilet

Weeing in the woods is quite straightforward. All you need to have to do is walk at least 20 steps from where you are camping and find a tree or bush to wee against or behind. If you intend to use a toilet site often, you might want to select an area further away from your camp.

Going to the toilet outdoors has now been made a little easier for women, thanks to the arrival of female urinals. They come in a variety of different shapes and styles and have become increasing popular with women for camping.

Pooing in the woods is a little more complex and often worries people. Some people think that it is really important to carry everything you brought into the woods, back out again with you, especially if the area is used by many people. In reality, this means bagging and storing poo until you get back to civilisation. This can be done with a combination of dog poo bags or nappy sacks and also good quality freezer bags which work well for this job too.

Some people prefer to take a trowel with them and dig a small but deep hole to relieve themselves into. Poo in the hole, then bury everything under a good layer of earth. However some people think that buried poo and toilet paper will decompose, so you might prefer to cover up the poo with a good thick clump of leaves when you have finished.

When you are all done, you can burn the dirty toilet paper with a gas lighter or some matches.

Leave no trace

As we always say, after you’ve been enjoying the great outdoors, always make sure you leave no trace that you have been there. The key thing to remember is that other people will no doubt be using the area that you have been using. So make sure the area is clear and any areas that you have used for toileting are clear of any poo or it has all been well covered.

 

Learn more bushcraft skills on our weekend
bushcraft course. 

Click here to learn more and book your space.

Could you survive out in the woods without any gadgets? What would you do if your mobile phone or GPS stopped working?

An Australian outback survival expert claims that our dependence on gadgets is actually putting our lives in danger in remote areas and is urging a more back to basics approach to bushcraft.

Australian authorities have seen a significant increase in the number of people that end up stranded or lost in remote parts of the country. Bob Cooper, a bushcraft expert with decades of experience under his belt, says that we are too reliant on technology and as a result we are losing our bushcraft skills, along with our common sense. He points out that using GPS is great for when you are out in remote locations, but what if it stops working and your mobile phone is out of range?

Going out in the great outdoors without any gadgets is a real test of your bushcraft and survival skills. It means that you really have to understand the landscape, the environment where you are and to have the confidence to trust your own knowledge and instincts.

At Wildway Bushcraft we would always say that anyone taking part in any bushcraft activity must put safety first. That may mean that you still have those gadgets with you, but they are to only be used in an emergency. Your ability to stay fed and watered, warm, dry and to be able to safely move from one place to another, should not all be reliant on your gadgets and gizmos that could so easily go wrong. Electronic items are fragile and can easily become out of range, run out of charge or just simply break. They should only be there to complement your bushcraft skills, not replace them.

Western Australia Police has reported a significant rise in the cases of bushcrafters going missing. Last year they led around 230 searches for people that were lost. Police said that the most common situations people found themselves in were vehicles breaking down or stuck and then of course those people that simply got lost. The Australian authorities’ advice is for people to always stay with their vehicle if something goes wrong, carry water and an EPIRB – an emergency position indicating radio beacon, used to alert search and rescue services.

But bushcraft and survival experts like Bob say that the priority should be improving people’s skills to be able to survive on their own out in the bush. He says that it doesn’t need to be an ‘us versus nature’ approach, but instead, bushcraft experts should teach people to respect the environment and learn how to survive in it.

That’s what we do on our courses at Wildway Bushcraft. We teach key bushcraft skills to help you get the most from being out in the great outdoors safely. For more information about us and our courses, just get in touch.

As a rule knives and children don’t mix. But a knife is an important tool for bushcraft, so it is good to get children understanding the importance of how to handle a knife properly and safely from an early age.

If you are going to let your child use a knife for bushcraft, then they must be old enough to understand the responsibility that comes with handling a knife. They must know how to use it safely and be prepared to follow the instructions and ‘rules’ they are given. A knife is not a toy or an accessory, but a key bushcraft tool.

If children are well supervised and taught about knife safety, then there shouldn’t be many problems.

Choosing the right knife

  • The knife should be well-made and robust. The handle should not be slippery but have a good grip and be well secured around the blade. The sheath must be strong and hold the knife securely.
  • The best knife for practicing bushcraft is a simple fixed-blade knife with a sheath. This type of knife can be used for a range of different tasks and allow the user to make effective and controlled cuts.
  • The knife should fit the size of their hand and the blade shouldn’t be any longer than the width of their palm, so they have good control over it.

Teaching knife safety to children

Spend time explaining the serious responsibility of handling a knife. Being able to handle and use a knife properly takes patience, dedication, and maturity.

  • Give them clear instructions of what is acceptable and safe behaviour for using a knife.
  • They must understand the dangers and how they can protect themselves from injury and know what to do if something happens. They should have their own first aid kit and know how to use it. A basic understanding of first aid and being able to treat a cut is essential.
  • Always set a good example in front of your child. This includes not taking any risks, always use the right knife for the right job and always have your first aid kit with you.
  • Teach them to be aware of their hands when cutting towards themselves or their gripping hand and not to move around when holding a knife.
  • They must know never to point a knife at someone.
  • If they need to pass a knife to someone else, teach them to do safely, by offering the other person the handle and keep all fingers away from the blade.
  • They must always be focused when using the knife. If tired or distracted, put the knife away safely for another time.

Anyone using a knife, whatever their age, needs to understand the law on carrying knives and where they can use one.

Getting a child started with a knife

Encourage children to practice carving for short periods, to help them get used to handling the knife and to avoid blistering. You can get them started with a simple and practical task like making pegs.

Family Bushcraft CourseKnife safety is one of many skills we teach on our Family Bushcraft Course. All the family can learn some great practical bushcraft skills which they can use when they are out in the woods. Get in touch to find out more.

 

Learn more about knife safety, children and bushcraft by joining our
family bushcraft course.
Click here to learn more

It’s half-term coming up and there are lots of fantastic bushcraft activities the children can get stuck into, come rain or shine. Here are just a few ideas:

Build a campfire

Fire is a key component in bushcraft and survival. It keeps you warm, provides light and you can cook your food over it. But a campfire is Firealso a great way of getting people together and enjoying each other’s company without ‘modern’ distractions. With a little preparation, lighting a fire is simple. While the actual fire lighting should be left to an adult, children can enjoy helping to gather all the materials.

Build a shelter

Children always enjoying building a den. Working together and using a little imagination, you can together create a lovely natural shelter that will keep you warm and dry. You don’t even need to venture out into the woods to do this. You can always build a shelter in your back garden. Once built, where better to play games, eat a meal and just enjoy being outside.

Foraging

It is simply amazing what delicious things you can find to eat outdoors. Foraging is a great activity for all the family and can be extremely rewarding. By law, you are allowed to forage for fruit, flowers, foliage and fungi. You can do this anywhere, but you must have the right or permission to be on the land.

Things to forage:

  • Nettles
  • Dandelion
  • Wood sorrel
  • Elderflower
  • Blackberries
  • Plantain
  • Ramsons
  • Mushrooms

One of the most important rules with foraging, is if you aren’t 100 per cent sure what it is, then DO NOT eat it. If in doubt, leave it out.

Cooking in the great outdoors

There is something extra special about preparing and eating food outdoors. The fresh air and woodsmoke seem to add a wonderful extra flavour to the dish and it is a great way of getting everyone to work together. Cooking over a fire is pretty easy and there are so many tasty and fun things you can cook, including:pot

  • Marshmallows
  • Twist bread
  • Popcorn
  • Stews and soups
  • Steak

Animal tracking

Animal tracking uses footprints, trails, feathers, kills, scratching posts, drag marks, smells, and behaviour exhibited by other animals, to identify an animal. It’s a great way to learn more about the landscape and sharpen the senses. Have a go trying to track some deer, badgers, wild rabbits or even wild boar.

Natural navigation

You can practice this anywhere. Use the sun, a shadow stick, tree and moss growth or the watch method to help you. A compass is a great tool to help you experiment with natural navigation and easy to use. Just remember that the big red arrow always points north.

Simple carving

There is something quite wonderful about spending time outdoors making something beautiful and practical that will last a long time. For children it is just as satisfying and carving a tent peg, is a great way to get them started with using a knife. As their confidence and skills grow, they can move on to making a pot hanger, spoon or even a cup. Children should of course only use sharp tools under supervision, and it is important that they understand how to use a knife safely before they get started.

Important to remember

  • Knife law: Whatever bushcraft fun you have planned for the half term, it’s important that you know the law on carrying and using knives.
  • Leave no trace: Once you have finished your activities it is essential that you leave no trace that you have ever been to that area. The key essence of Bushcraft is respecting the environment and other people that may also use that area.

For more family bushcraft fun, sign up to our next Family Bushcraft course which the whole bushcraft a family guidefamily can enjoy. You can also get your hands on a copy of  Bushcraft: A Family Guide, a fantastic resource full of ideas and guides on how to enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family. Get your copy from Amazon and all good book shops.

Being able to safely use a knife for bushcraft and survival tasks is absolutely essential. Even if you are an experienced knife user, you must never become complacent with using a knife. Here are our tips for using a knife safely for bushcraft.

Keep it sharp

A safe knife is a sharp knife. It will always cut as you expect and won’t need excessive pressure.

Always keep the knife in its sheath

Whenever your knife is not being used, return it to the sheath, it is the safest place for it. Don’t ever just leave it out somewhere, even for a brief moment.

Taking a knife out of its sheath

You can easily cut yourself just by removing a knife from its sheath, so it’s important to keep fingers away from the sharp edge. When it isn’t attached to you, pull gently on it and then remove the sheath from the knife. If the knife is attached to you, then pull on the knife gently and pull it out slowly.

Make some space

Always ensure there is plenty of space around you when you are using a knife. If there are people in close proximity to you, then ask them to move back or find a new location. You must never try to use your knife in badly lit, confined or awkward spaces.

Using the knife

  1. Always concentrate on what you are doing. Cuts often happen because of a lack of concentration or distractions. If it isn’t the right time, put the knife away until it is.
  2. Hold the knife securely in full-hand grip, with your fingers safely away from the edge. Always cut away from your body and be aware of where your free hand is and be careful you don’t cut towards it.
  3. Even if your knife is sharp, only shave off small amounts with every cut. Trying to remove too much will mean you need to use excess force and reduces your control.
  4. Keep your elbows on your knees, especially while carving sitting down. This stops the knife from getting too close to your leg.

Passing it to another person

When handing a knife to someone else, always do so with great care. Using the forehand grip, swivel it in your hand and let the other person take the knife by the handle. Always be careful to keep your fingers out of the way as you hand over the knife. Make sure the point and sharp edge is away from both hands.

First aid kit

If you regularly use a knife, then there is a good chance that you may end up giving yourself the occasional nick. Always have a first aid kit with you, just in case.

See you in the woods

You can improve your knife skills at one of our bushcraft courses this year. Get in touch to find out more. We hope to see you out in the woods with us very soon.

 

Learn more bushcraft skills on our weekend
bushcraft course. 

Click here to learn more and book your space.