In this week’s blog, we’re going to be taking a look at camping in the winter. Specifically, we are going to be looking at camping in the winter in the lower areas of England, such as the Brecon Beacons and the South West. We won’t be looking at winter camping in the higher areas, such as the lakes or in Scotland where winter conditions approach the positively Arctic. This blog will focus on camping in a normal backpacking tent, e.g. not a heated tent. Read on to learn about camping in the winter. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.


Kit for winter camping

Winter camping considerations

When it comes to camping in the winter then a lot of the discussion revolves around the kit. The kit for winter camping runs along the same principles as the kit for camping in the summer. As long as the basic principles are followed then there is no need to spend a fortune on the kit.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag for winter in the parts of England that we are talking about needs to be rated down to the minus numbers. While certain people might sleep hot while others feel the cold there is, generally speaking, no need to splash out on anything rated below – 10. The down vs synthetic debate will rumble on, but generally speaking down is lighter weight for fill power whereas synthetic is better in damp conditions. When you’re considering purchasing a sleeping bag you should look for one that is rated along the lines of the EN13537 standards. When looking at the different ratings, you need to focus on the comfort rating, not the extreme or the limit rating. The ‘extreme’ rating is the “temperature at which the average woman can remain for six hours without risk of DEATH from hypothermia – but can still sustain cold injuries” (source: Alpkit). 



Work with your sleeping bag

No matter what the rating of your sleeping bag you do need to work with your bag to help it to achieve the maximum possible rating. If possible, don’t compress it to its smallest size when putting it in your bag but instead put it in a larger bag in order to allow the sleeping bag to retain its loft. Keep the bag dry at all times and consider carrying it in a dry bag in order to protect it. Consider wearing thermals inside your bag to boost its rating and never wear your wet day clothes inside the bag.

Sleeping mat

A decent sleeping mat is essential for a good night’s sleep. Your sleeping mat keeps you insulated away from the cold, wet ground. The more insulated from the ground you are then the warmer you are likely to be. Sleeping mats that have large chambers filled with air are likely to be comfortable but may be colder in winter conditions, whereas closed cell mats, like the classic Karrimat, are likely to be warm but uncomfortable. Perhaps it is best to consider a combination of the two types of mats.





When it comes to winter camping then a good level of organisation is key to enjoying yourself. Winter conditions in the parts of the UK that we are looking at are likely to be wet, snowy and generally quite grim.  With weather like that, it is important to keep organised, keep your wet and dry kit separate at all times. Store essential items that can be damaged by cold weather, such as phones or water filters, wrapped in something warm, like socks, or stored on or about your person. 

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Tent management


Winter camping involves a good deal of tent management. Consider opening ventilation flaps in all but the worst of weather in order to reduce condensation and prevent your sleeping bag getting damp. We will look at how to make the most of your stove in winter in a blog post later this month. If snowfall is heavy then you may need to get up in the night to clear snow off your tent, less it weighs on the fabric and damages it. 




When it comes to winter camping it is essential to upgrade your sleeping kit so that it is suitable for use in lower temperatures. Don’t just focus on the sleeping bag but also consider the quality of your sleeping mat and thermals. Organisation is also vitally important when it comes to winter camping. You need to keep your wet and dry kit separate and items that can be damaged by the cold wrapped up somewhere warm or on your person. Look after your tent, be careful of mounting snow on the side of the tent and try to pitch it with the end into the wind so as to reduce its impact on the tent. 



Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year. 

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Further Reading 

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them. 



When it comes to bushcraft in the UK there are several additional considerations that you need to be aware of before building a shelter in autumn. Not only will it be colder at night and in the morning, additionally, there will also be less green foliage around to use and it is likely to be damper. Read on to discover some key considerations when building a bushcraft shelter in autumn and winter.

Type of shelter 

shelter autumn

Shelter building can be a long and time-consuming task. It needs to be completed alongside other essentials camp tasks such as creating a fire, stockpiling firewood and sourcing water. In autumn and winter, with daylight hours being limited, it is important to build the shelter that uses energy and resources most economically. One of the shelters best suited to bushcraft in autumn and winter is the lean-to.  This type of shelter, along with the correct type of fire, can provide comfort in cold and even sub-zero temperatures.



Location and resources

Shelter autumn

Choosing a suitable location is a cornerstone of any successful bushcraft shelter building exercise, this is even truer in the autumn and winter when materials might be in short supply. A lean-to shelter can require a lot of resources; small trees will need to be felled and split into suitable lengths and more wood will need to be gathered for the fire. While there is the adage ‘wood will warm you twice, once when you collect it and again when you burn it’; you need to be careful not to exhaust yourself as this could have serious consequences, especially in colder weather where hypothermia is a risk. Look for a location that is rich in trees, such as pine or birch and close to a source of water. The dense tree cover of a UK woodland will keep your lean-to shelter relatively free from snowdrift.



Shelter autumn

As we previously mentioned lean-to shelters are resource heavy, needing either the felling of several small trees of the cutting to size of fallen dead wood. For these purposes, you’re going to need both a reasonable size bushcraft axe and a hand-held saw, such as a Silky saw or a laplander.



Shelter autumn


The construction of a lean-to shelter in autumn and winter conditions also requires the construction of an appropriate fire.  For warmth in a lean-to shelter, it is hard to beat a long-log fire. The logs that you are using for this fire (once it has been started) should be of a fair size, akin to the thickness of a telegraph pole,  so that they will burn through all night. Finding logs of this size will most likely require the felling of standing dead wood. We will be showing you how to build a long log fire in more detail later in the year.

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Environmental considerations 

One of the often overlooked considerations of building a bushcraft shelter in the autumn, or at any time of the year, is the environmental impact of your shelter. Of course, in a genuine survival situation then this should slide down your list of considerations, however, bushcraft is not about survival. Rather, it is about living in harmony with nature in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. The proficient bushcraft person is at home in the woods, working without haste or panic and in harmony with their materials.


Use what is readily available

With the above in mind, you should consider the environmental impact of building your shelter. Do you need to fell trees or can you use what is to hand? Is there a natural feature which can help you in constructing your shelter? Is the location of your shelter close to any wild flowers or plants that it might damage? Look around you and see the woods as a whole, use what is easily available to help you to achieve your aims.

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Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year.

Further Reading 

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them.


Practicing bushcraft in the UK can be a fantastic activity to introduce to your children and wider family. Not only is it an enjoyable and practical skill for children to learn it can also have wider learning applications, teaching skills such as a greater respect for nature and each other as well as giving them the ability to make decisions independently.

Here are our top tips for introducing your family to bushcraft, as always feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most. Remember, the best way to perfect these skills is on a bushcraft course. Find out more about our family bushcraft course here.


Start small

Family bushcraft course

When it comes to introducing your family to bushcraft it is best to start small. Don’t try and load everything that you know on to children or, if you are also starting your bushcraft journey, don’t expect others journeys to take the same path as yours.  It is best to start small, pick a skill that can be easily practiced and work on it together. Skills such as tree and plant identification (although remember never to eat anything you’ve not 100% identified), knots or animal prints. 


Shelter building

Shelter building family bushcraft
Children love dens and teaching them how to build shelters is a great way of introducing them to bushcraft. Depending on the age of the children you might not want to introduce them to the knife or axe skills required for shelter building. What you can do though, however, is pre-cut the wood and then practice shelter building with them. Or, if you are not confident using an axe or knife, why not just try making shelters with the materials that you have to hand, or just get used to sleeping out under a tarp with your family.




Fire lighting 

Fire lighting family bushcraft course

When it comes to fire lighting one of the best things that you can teach children is to respect the fire. Teaching respect of the fire when getting into bushcraft as a family will mean that, as your children become more involved with different aspects of fire lighting they are less likely to mess about and hurt themselves. Other than that a good method of fire lighting that can be taught is with a steel striker and a ball of cotton wool used as tinder. For more information on fire lighting tips and tricks have a look at our blog post here




Tool use

family bushcraft course

If you and your family are starting your bushcraft journey, or if you are already on your journey and you want to teach your family, then tool use is a great place to start. Teaching the correct way to use a knife and, if children are old enough, and axe can be a great way of increasing independence and teaching responsibility. It should go without saying though that it’s best not to let children use knives and axes unsupervised.

What to expect on our family bushcraft course

Family bushcraft course

Our family bushcraft course costs £100 per adult or £80 for those under 18. The course is aimed at the whole family and is designed to allow children to explore and learn new skills in a safe but fun environment. As a family, you will learn to build your own shelter, track woodland animals, make fires, cook over an open fire, find safe walking drinking water and lots more.

It’s what you make of it

Our family bushcraft weekend can be as adventurous as you make it. You can choose to sleep in a hammock, under a tarp, or in the shelter that you made as a family.  Of course, if you would rather you’re welcome to bring your own tent.


Kit mentions 

Here is some kit that you might find useful when learning bushcraft with your family. 


In this week’s blog post we will be looking at plant and tree identification in the UK in winter.  

As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, being able to identify the plants and trees of the British isles becomes increasingly difficult – many will have lost their distinctive leaves and berries which aid identification in other times of the year. In this week’s blog post we will be looking at how to identify trees in winter, key pointers that you can put into practice and provide you with a list of commonly found trees that you can practice identifying at this time of the year.

As always, please feel free to read our entire blog or skip to the part that interests you the most.

Difference between tree identification in winter and other seasons

The most notable difference in trees in the winter is the effect that the season has on the leaves. While Evergreen conifers are trees that retain their leaves throughout the year, deciduous trees drop their leaves in the autumn/winter and flower again in spring.

Coniferous trees identifying trees in winter

Why identify trees in winter?

Identifying trees in winter can provide you with an added depth to your winter walks. It can also provide you with access to a variety of bushcraft tools – enabling you to access the same natural materials that you would be able to access in the spring – for example; being able to identify trees in winter will enable you to find the correct wood for making a bow drill.  

Key pointers to keep in mind when identifying trees in the winter

When it comes to identifying deciduous trees in the winter the leaves are not there to help us, for this reason, we need to look to the bark, the buds, and their general shape. Tree buds, though they flower in spring, lie dormant in the winter giving clues as to the tree in which they sit. Tree shapes provide an additional clue as to their identification, field maples will, for example, have rounder profiles whereas ash trees are rather slim. Combining the characteristics of the bark and the buds in winter is a great method of identifying the tree.

Characteristics of bark and buds

Combining the key characteristics of bark and buds in a table is a great way of identifying trees in winter – see Collins Gem ‘Trees’ for a more detailed explanation of winter tree identification.  Here are a few examples below:


      • Hazel: Brown buds/flaking and peeling bark
      • Horse chestnut: Red and orange/brown buds and flaking or peeling bark
      • Beech: Brown/grey/black buds and cracked or scarred barks
      • Crab apples: Red/orange/brown buds and cracked or scarred bark and.


Why not try your hand at tree identification, foraging, shelter building, knife skills and many more aspects of bushcraft on our weekend bushcraft course – click here for more information

Several key trees to identify in the winter

Below are a few examples of key trees that you can practice identifying this winter.

Hazel (Corylus avellana):

Look for brown buds, flaking and/or peeling bark.

Hazel bark identifying trees in winter

Hazel bark


Hazel bud identifying trees in winter

Hazel bud

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum):

When it comes to the horse chestnut keep an eye out for reddy -orange/brown buds and flaking or peeling bark.


Horse chestnut bark identifying trees in winter

Horse chestnut bark

Horse chestnut bud helping you to identify trees in winter

Horse chestnut bud

Beech (Fagus sylvatica):

Beech trees can, in the winter, be identified by their own/grey/black buds and cracked or scarred barks.


Beech bark how to identify trees in Winter

Beech bark


Beech bud

Beech bud


Crab apple (Malus sylvestris):

Crab apples can be identified by their cracked or scarred bark and red/orange/brown buds.

Crab apple bark

Crab apple bark

Trees in winter Crab apple bud

Crab apple bud

Foraging in winter

Though it might seem like the forager’s patch is sparse in winter, the cold season can offer up a variety of treats for those that know where to look.

Beech nuts  

Beech nuts can make for a tasty nibble when you’re out in the woods. Simply scrape off the brown skin on the inside and eat the edible triangular seeds inside.


Chestnuts are perhaps the epitome of winter foraging. Found over most woodland floors, chestnuts can be opened up and removed from their green spikey cases ready to eat once cooked over a fire.

Pine nuts

Pine cones, the open ones at least, can be opened up and shaken to remove the pine nuts within. These can be eaten raw or toasted. For pine cones that are closed, simply put them near a fire for a few days and they should open up.


Give foraging a try on our weekend bushcraft course – click here for more information

Garlic mustard

Garlic mustard, also known as ‘jack-by-the-hedge’, is most often found in shady places such as the edges of hedgerows. Its heart-shaped leaves are smooth and hairless – like nettles – when the leaves are crushed they smell of garlic.

The colder season can also be a great time of the year for foraging for shellfish, read more about seashore foraging in our blog here.

Remember  – never eat anything that you have not positively identified.


Try your hand at foraging, learn the art of shelter building, campfire cooking and discover how to safely source water on our weekend bushcraft course.

Learn more about bushcraft with weekend bushcraft courses in the UK from Wildway Bushcraft

We all have the capacity to feed ourselves from our natural environment – we’ve just lost track of how. Fallen leaves and bare hedgerows can suggest there’s nothing good to eat in the autumn landscape, but actually the autumn world is full of amazing food. Here’s how to discover it.

Begin with an expert forager

Learning to forage requires some skills and quite a lot of experience – you can’t do much better than finding an expert forager and taking a course with them. This doesn’t just teach you what’s good to eat, it helps you to harvest from the wild sustainably, so that you don’t damage the environment where you are foraging. A good bushcraft course will set you on the path to having some very productive time in the wild, with a good meal at the end of it!

Focus on autumn foraging

Funnily enough, autumn can be the easiest time to discover delicious food in the wild. Wild mushrooms, ripe fruits, nuts and berries all abound and can be the most recognisable introduction to foraging.

Get social

Foraging is fun. Working together as a group means that you can pass on your new bushcraft skills to others, perhaps helping children to develop the ability to spot food in the wild so that they grow up with the ‘skill’ of finding a meal in the natural environment. Taking a bushcraft course is another great way to develop both your foraging and your social skills and whilst finding a solo meal in the wild is rewarding, harvesting, preparing and eating one as part of a group is really enjoyable!

Feed your senses – foods to forage in autumn

Autumn foraging brings very rich and developed flavours such as bullace and damsons, rich yet tart plum-type fruits that have intense flavours: whilst not great to eat raw, both fruits make amazing jam or fruit cheese and great wine.

  • Blackberries are the easiest thing for most of us to recognise – and can be eaten raw, cooked with other fruits like autumn apples, turned into jam or jelly or made into wine.
  • Rose hips are easy to spot but not so easy to harvest! Best taken after a frost when they become sweeter, you will need to wear gloves to pick them and the interior hairs need to be removed before consumption. Rose hips make beautiful syrup and jelly.
  • Crab apples are pectin rich and can be used to support less pectin-rich fruit in making jams and jellies from other autumn fruits such as blackberries, rowan berries and rose hips.
  • Nuts from walnuts to cobnuts are all available, although you may have to pit your wits against the grey squirrel community to harvest them.
  • Mushrooms are a real test of foraging skill! It takes a lot of practice to forage fungi with confidence and it’s not a habit that beginners should get into. Whilst we have amazing native wild fungi such as blewitts, boletes, ceps, parasols and wax caps, all available in autumn, only an idiot would head out into the countryside armed with a book and not much else, to try and judge if a mushroom is tasty or fatal!

On our Bushcraft courses we teach game preparation and get students to prep their own food so they know how to, should the need ever arise in the wilderness.

This is a walk through guide on how to skin and butcher a rabbit for food. You can learn more techniques like this by signing up to a Wildway Bushcraft courseUsing this method will also allow you to keep the pelt in the most useful condition so you can use it for making items such as slippers and bags.

We will start at the point where you have got your hands on a rabbit. Assuming the rabbit looks fit and healthy, you will need to kill it.

You will want to do this as quickly and as painlessly as possible, showing the utmost respect to the animal. You are aiming for a humane dispatch, this can be achieved by giving the rabbit two sharp strong blows to the back of its head. This can be done with either your hand in a chopping motion or by using a good solid round of timber. Take your time and be firm to ensure you get it right the first time. To check the rabbit is dead, check the corneal reflex. You do this by poking the animal in the eye. If you get any reaction from the eye, the rabbit is not dead. If this is the case, hit it again, hard.

So we now have a dead, healthy looking rabbit. Now what?Bushcraft rabbit

Empty the bladder of the animal by pushing down on the rabbits belly and moving downwards as you do so. You may see urine being expelled; if the rabbit went to the loo before you caught it you may not!

Take a knife, place the rabbit on its back and using the tip of your knife, carefully cut upwards from the rabbits belly button area to its ribcage. Be careful not to nick the rabbits guts, this is a sure fire way to taint the meat.

Once you have made the cut, use your hand to remove the offal and guts of the rabbit. Good. Job done!

Now snap the rabbits back legs at what would be the knee on a human. Once you have broken the bone cut it off with your knife.rabbit skinning

Do the same with the front paws. You now have 4 lucky rabbits feet!

Turning the rabbit on its back, use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat. Keep pulling and working the skin away until you have got to its back. Now do the same from the other side. You will now have a rabbit hand bag!DSCF0476

Continue removing the skin towards the back legs and pull the skin off the back legs. This can be quite tough so be firm.

Once you have done this, do the same with the front. Again be firm and and it will come off.DSCF0479

You should at this point have a naked rabbit with its own fur as a cloak. Remove any last bits of skin until you are up to the neck area. When you are, firmly twist off the head and pull it away. You will now be left with a rabbit hand puppet.DSCF0481DSCF0480



 Using your knife, cut the shoulders off of the rabbit. They are not attached by a bone or joint so they will come off easily.

Next, spread the hind legs and break the ball and socket joint. Cut the animals “bottom” out using a V shape cut where the tail was. This will remove the anal passage and any droppings yet to be passed plus the scent glands which if left in can smell foul when the meat is cooking. When you have done this, you will be able to cut off the legs at the joint just as you did with the front legs. 

Remove the skirts from the animal –  these can be turned in to rabbit jerky by adding salt and drying them out over the smoke of your fire. You will now be able to break the spine just after the rib cage and cut though the rabbit to remove the loins – these are the best bits in my opinion!

Use the ribs to create a stock and slowly boil up the joints to create a rabbit stew.DSCF0486

I hope you found this useful. If you wish to learn more about game prep and other bushcraft skills then check out our bushcraft courses held in Dorset and Hampshire.


Learn more bushcraft skills on our weekend
bushcraft course. 

Click here to learn more and book your space.

Who doesn’t want to believe they could survive in the wild? Whether it’s a long term trip in the wilderness or just getting lost in the woods overnight, we’d like to think we have the skills to make a tough situation into a great adventure. Foraging, the ancient art of finding food in the wild, doesn’t just give us dinner, it gives us a new appreciation of the beauty, power and variety of the natural world around us. As part of the bushcraft that we teach on our courses in Dorset and Hampshire, we teach people how to find seasonal food, and how to prepare and eat it.

In spring, there is an abundance of tasty foraging that can please the palate as well as providing the necessary sustenance for survival.

Wild food for free

Ramsons, also know as ramps and wild garlic, are easy to find thanks to their mild onion aroma, which becomes a strong smell if you happen to tread on the plant! The starry white flowers also make it easy to spot. The narrow green leaves can be harvested to serve in place of spring onions, wilted in a pan like spinach, cooked into a soup, chopped with eggs to make a woodland omelette or used as a wrapping for small amounts of meat or fish to be grilled. This isn’t the end of their versatility; when the flowers are in bloom hey can be eaten raw and are utterly delicious – wild garlic is served in the best restaurants in the UK as a seasonal delicacy and it’s readily available for free in British woodlands.

Pignut has small carrot-like leaves, tiny clusters of white cow-parsley like flowers in May, and a very slender root that is difficult to extract – it can’t be pulled from the ground like the carrot it resembles, rather it must be dug from the soil and is usually several inches below ground. Pignut earned its name because it’s so delicious that pigs would hunt it down, as they do truffles! The tuber can be eaten fresh, once the outer skin is scraped or rubbed off or cooked. The flavour is a succulent blend of chestnut and celery.

elder-398832_1280Elder is well known as a cordial, but in May, its umbels of creamy white, highly-scented flowers are a delicious dessert when fried in a batter. Some elder trees are also home to the jelly ear, an ear-shaped almost transparent fungus that can be sliced and fried. Foraged as part of a survival skills experience, the jelly ear is a wonderful supper, especially if you’ve earned it through using a bow drill to create a friction fire – it brings your appetite to new levels of appreciation!

Morels are also found in spring. They have a beige cap with many fissures, looking like an alien brain and can be found in open woodland. As there is also a poisonous false morel, working with an expert forager to hone your identification skills is key to enjoying this delicious fungus with a seductive nutty flavour that is highly prized. Morels, when dried, are a key ingredient in many rich sauces, but eaten fresh they have a delicacy of flavour that is hard to match.

If we’ve inspired your taste buds, why not sign up for one of our foraging courses so that we can introduce you to some of the greatest food you’ll ever eat. Who knows, your foraging skills could come in useful the next time you head into the wild.