Making the most of your stove in winter

Making the Most of Your Stove in Winter

After a hard day walking in winter conditions, there is nothing better than a hot brew. That’s why, in this blog, we will be looking at how to make the most of your stove in winter conditions. When we’re looking at winter conditions we are looking at those in places of the UK such as the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, and the South West in general. We will not be considering winter conditions in mountainous regions or Scotland where winter conditions can be equivalent to the Arctic. Read on to learn more about maximising your stove use in winter.

 

Key considerations 

Making the most of your stove in winter


This blog is simply an overview of the different types of stoves and their effectiveness in winter. It does not compare stove types nor the enormous number of variations which can impact on the stove’s effectiveness. These variations include things such as, the altitude that the stove is being used at, the type of windshield being used, the temperature of the fuel beforehand, the wind speed/direction and of course the experience of the person using it. 

 

Solid fuel stoves 

Solid fuel stoves use either fuel blocks, such as ‘hex’ blocks or alcohol gels. One of the main drawbacks with these types of stoves is that the fuel is not readily available in your local camping store, nor can you control the heat output of the stove. The fuel is unlikely to be affected by winter temperatures but is obviously prey to the conditions that affect all stoves in winter.

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Unpressurised liquid stoves

Unpressurised liquid stoves, such as the Trangia, typically run on a methanol, parrafin, or kerosene fuels. Typically these have a lower burning temperature than gas or multi-fuel stoves and, once again, the temperature can be hard to regulate. They can be impacted badly by cold weather although there are several things that you can do to improve their performance in winter. These include, insulating the stove from the ground, using more fuel to heat the stove first, keeping the fuel insulated and warm while carrying it and while at camp.

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Gas Stoves

Gas stoves light instantly, without the need for priming, and are largely maintenance free. The fuel for gas stoves is generally widely available and can typically be found in local hardware stores as well as camping shops. Their performance in winter is more to do with the fuel that is being used than the stove itself.  

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Butane/Propane

Pure butane is a poor fuel for use in stoves in winter as it stops vapourising (e.g. the gas will remain liquid) at around - 1 degrees celcius. Propane, on the other hand, can be used at temperatures down to - 42 degrees Celcius, making it an ideal choice. However, it is extremely difficult to manufacture pure propane canisters that are suitable for camping. This leaves us with a butane/propane mix, typically canisters of this type will use a 70/30 butane/propane mix.  Even using this mix, however, effectiveness can be reduced in cold weather as the stove empties.

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Pressurised liquid/multi-fuel stoves

Stoves of this type, such as the MSR Whisperlite, are excellent performers in all but the most extreme conditions.  These stoves can be used with both gas canisters and a liquid fuel known as ‘white gas’, a pure form of gasoline. These stoves, however, can be difficult to use for novices as they typically require priming and can be prone to flare-ups, making them less than ideal for using inside one’s tent.

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Fires

Cooking on a fire in winter


Provided that you are able to light a fire in winter (have a look at our blogs
here and here) then they can be a great source of heat, light and can be easy to cook on.  However, you do need to be mindful of the environment in which you are having a fire. Provided that you are not in a genuine survival situation where anything goes then you need to consider if you have permission, the environmental impact of having a fire and, of course, how you can have a fire without leaving any trace. 

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Kit 

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.

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Clothing for winter camping
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Bushcraft is about more than survival

Finding Wood For Fire Lighting This Autumn

As we move into autumn and then into winter here in the UK, the weather gets colder and, more often than not, wetter. In these conditions, it can become more difficult to find dry wood with which to light a fire. The true bushcraft practitioner, however, has no difficulty finding dry wood and kindling with which to light a fire in the winter. Read on to discover more tips on how to source dry wood in wet conditions. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most

Don’t forget the basics

Fire lighting in damp autumn conditions
Before we look at finding dry wood in wet weather in more detail it is worth stressing that just because the weather conditions have changed there is no reason to forget the basics.  All the principles that normally apply to good fire lighting practice apply double in the winter. Take care of your tinder and use lots of dry and suitable kindling. When it comes to kindling the amount that you use in wet weather should be several times more than you would use in dry conditions. Don’t also forget to build a small platform of twigs on the floor in order to raise the fire off the damp floor.  

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Importance of keeping your kit dry

Fire lighting damp conditions


In wet or wintery conditions it is of vital importance to keep your kit dry at all times. This applies equally to sleeping bags, tents, and everything else that you might be carrying. When it comes to fire lighting it is important that you keep your tinder, whether you have gathered it as you have gone along or bought it from home, it is vital that it is kept dry. When gathering tinder and fuel as you go along one of the easiest ways to keep it dry is to put it in the pockets of your waterproof jacket or trouser pockets underneath your waterproof trousers. Care should be paid to keeping your fire lighting tools - such as matches or Swedish firesteel - dry. It is always worth carrying several methods of fire lighting in your kit, for example, a fire steel, matches and lighter. 

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Gathering as you go

Leave no trace after camp fire is finished

One of the easiest ways to find dry fuel for the fire while out in wet weather is to gather it as you go along. Rather than trying to find it all in one place at the end of your journey, gathering fuel as you go along not only saves you time when you reach your camp but it also enables you to look for fuel in different sites along your route, often when the weather conditions are more favourable.

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Making feather sticks 

One of the best sources of dry wood in wet weather is in feather sticks. While the outside of the wood might be wet the ability to make feather sticks will help you to access the dry wood on the inside. Provided that the wood is not saturated with water then feather sticks can be an excellent way of lighting a fire in damp conditions.  

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Learn more about making feather sticks in our video. Watch via our YouTube channel or in the blog below.

 

Kit 

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.

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Plants to identify in autumn and winter

Plants to Look Out For This Autumn and Winter

Autumn and winter in the UK can seem like a time of inactivity in the woods. For those who know where to look and what to look for there are plenty of things going on. In this blog, we’re going to take a short look at a few of the plants that make an appearance during autumn and winter in the UK.

Read on to learn more or click on the links below to skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Lesser celandine

Plants for autumn and winter
Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine

Lesser celandine is related to the buttercup family. It’s yellow flowers, which resemble stars, bloom from late February into May. Look for lesser celandine carpeting the woodland floors as winter begins to relax its hold on the earth. It is one of the plants that is used to provide an indication of the passing of seasonal events, for this reason, the flowering of lesser celandine is seen as a sign of spring. The flowers of lesser celandine provide an important source of nectar for bumblebees and other insects that begin to emerge in early spring.

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Mistletoe 

Plants to identify in autumn and winter
Mistletoe

Mistletoe is so much more than just a plant for awkwardly kissing under at Christmas.  This parasitic plant typically grows on plants such as hawthorn, blackthorn, and rowan. The white berries of mistletoe appear in winter while the plant itself flowers in at some point between February and April. Many animals depend upon mistletoe throughout the winter and it forms a key part of the surrounding ecosystem.  The plant has associations with fertility and vitality in western medieval culture. 

 

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Primrose

 

Plants to identify in autumn and winter
Primrose

 

Primroses typically flower between late December and early May and are often found in woodland clearings. They are found throughout Europe, stretching in distribution from the tip of North Africa to Norway. The flowers and leaves of primroses are both edible and can be used in soups and stews. 

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Dog’s Mercury 

 

Plants for autumn and winter in the UK
Mercurialis perennis, commonly known as dog's mercury

Dog’s Mercury is common throughout the UK, most often found carpeting the floor of ancient woodlands.  It often spreads to such an extent that it crowds out species such as Oxlip, shading woodland floors. Dog's Mercury flowers in February through to April, although it bears leaves throughout the year. It is also, and most importantly, very highly poisonous. Eating Dog’s Mercury can lead to vomiting, the victim falling into a coma and then death.  

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Kit

 

Further Reading 

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

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Family bushcraft course
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Understanding your sleeping kit
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Shelter building with wildway

What Changes in The UK Woods in Autumn and Winter

In this blog, we’re going to have a look at some of the things that change in our woods in autumn. As all skilled bushcraft practitioners know being in tune with nature is the key to improving one’s skill set. Every time we go out into the woods it is important to look around and take it all in, this blog will help you do just this by providing you with some autumn characteristics of UK woodlands to look out for.

 

Animal behaviour 

autumn in the UK woods


Autumn doesn’t just bring with it a change of colour in the leaves, it also brings a change in animal behaviours. Here are a few to look out for.

  • Birds
    Falling temperatures and declining availability of foods cause some species of birds to migrate throughout the autumn.  Keep an eye out for birds such as Swallows which migrate from Europe to Africa in the winter, returning to their feeding grounds in spring.  There are other less long-distance migrants, altitudinal migrants - those that migrant short distances from north to south - include Skylarks, Meadow pipits and Snow buntings.
    For more information see the RSPB’s website here.
  • Hedgehogs, dormice, and bats
    Hedgehogs, dormice, and bats consume large quantities of fruit, nuts, and insects in the run-up to winter in order to increase their proportions of body fat and prepare for their hibernation.
  • Deer and Boar
    For larger animals, such as deer and boar, autumn can be a busy time of the year. These animals are all seeking mates, so while it is a good time of the year to see them it is best to keep your distance.

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Fungi 

Mushrooms in autumn in the UK woods


Autumn is a great time of year to spot fungi. Remember though, never eat anything that you have not 100% positively identified as safe. The kingdom of fungi is an enormous one, with over 15,000 species in the UK alone. The Woodland Trust outlines several of the most common types of fungi found in the UK,
here on their blog

 

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Trees

Alder trees for bushcraft 

The UK woodland is a fantastic sight in autumn. The deciduous trees are losing their leaves and the woods are carpeted with an amazing array of colours. Identifying deciduous trees in autumn and winter is a key bushcraft skill that will help you with other bushcraft skills including friction fire lighting and shelter building.  The Woodland Trust has an introduction to identifying trees in the UK in autumn and winter in their blog here. 

 

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Kit 


Autumn is a fantastic time to get out into the woods and practice your bushcraft skills. We’ve listed some equipment below that might come in handy when practicing your autumn bushcraft.
Please note that aside from Bear Blades Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the brands or pieces of equipment listed below - we don’t get anything extra if you choose to purchase one of these items!  

 

Further Reading 

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

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Light a fire in damp conditions
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Gransfor Bruks Small Forset Axe
Copyright Gransfor Bruks

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Bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft
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Lighting a Fire On Snow

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

 

Fire lighting essentials

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


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

 

Is it worth the effort?

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

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Lighting a fire on snow

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

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Building a platform

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

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Digging down

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

Preparation for lighting a fire in the snow

Lighting a fire on snow

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

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Kit 

Lighting a fire on snow

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

 

Further Reading

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

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Light a fire in damp conditions
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Choosing a bushcraft axe
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Sharpen your bushcraft knife
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Fire lighting in damp conditions

Lighting a Fire In Damp Conditions

Lighting a fire in damp conditions is a vital bushcraft skill. Fire is key for keeping warm, cooking food and a whole host of other bushcraft activities; as with all elements of bushcraft the real skill comes in being able to do it in less than ideal conditions. This week, we’re going to look at how to light a fire in damp conditions. This will include a recap of the basics of fire lighting, a look at some basic axe techniques and a video of how to make feather sticks - a very useful tool when it comes to lighting a fire in the rain.

Feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the sections that interest you by clicking on the links below.  

 

Fire lighting basics 

Light a fire in damp conditions


No matter what the conditions are, successfully lighting a fire relies on following some basic principles. In this section, we’re going to quickly recap some elemental fire lighting principals. Never rush these as getting the basics wrong will make it much harder for you to succeed in lighting a fire and therefore cause you to waste more energy than is needed. 

 

  • Start with tinder

    Successful fire lighting begins with finding appropriate tinder. Whether this is natural tinders such as birch bark, or tinder that you have brought with you, such as balls of cotton wool. In damp conditions, you will need more tinder than you would in dry conditions.  If it is going to be damp it is better, if at all possible, to plan in advance and bring your tinder with you. After all, you don’t want to have to spend time looking for tinder when you are already cold and wet.

  • Kindling

    Now that you have more tinder than you think you might need, it is time for kindling. Kindling is small twigs or sticks no more than pencil thickness. It very important that kindling is dry, we will look at how to find dry kindling in damp conditions later in this blog. After gathering kindling of pencil thickness,  collect sticks that are around as thing as a thumb. If wood this size is not readily available it can be made by splitting thicker pieces of wood into smaller individual pieces.

     

  • Larger pieces of wood

    After the thumb-thick pieces of wood, it is time for larger pieces of firewood. You need to several pieces of firewood of steadily increasing size and thickness. Split wood will burn faster than wood that has not been split. We will look at axe techniques for splitting wood later in this blog.

  • Preparing the ground

    Before lighting your fire it is important to prepare the ground. In damp conditions, it is a good idea to raise your tinder off the ground. This is best done by clearing away any fallen foliage, down to the bare earth and then laying a platform of small, pencil-thick sticks. You can then use this platform to build your fire on.

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Sourcing wood in wet conditions

Fire lighting in damp conditions


Keeping in mind the basic steps for fire lighting, the first step (after having checked that you’ve brought your tinder) is sourcing dry wood for kindling - or for making into tinder if necessary.
Remember, when you’re looking for wood, dead, standing wood is the best for fire lighting. With that in mind here are some tips and techniques for finding wood in damp conditions. 

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    • Gather as you go


      One of the most common mistakes is in waiting until you are at your campsite before starting to gather fuel for your fire. Rather than waiting until you’ve arrived at your destination gather materials as you walk into camp.

    • Look for dry patches and don’t pick wood from the ground


      Look for patches of dry ground around trees, such as patches that have been sheltered by the tree’s canopy. If dry, dead, standing wood is not available then look for twigs on the ground under the shelter of the tree. Dry, dead twigs will snap cleanly if pressure is applied to them if the twig does not break cleanly or simply bends then discard it and continue your search.

       

    • Look for the wood inside


      While the outside of the wood, be it a branch or twig, might be wet the chances are that the inside of the wood is dry. Provided that the wood is not soaked through then whittling away the outside of the wood can give you access to the dry wood inside. For larger pieces of wood, you will need to split it either by batoning or by using an axe.  We will look at the finer points of both techniques further on in this blog. 

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    Techniques for batoning

    Batoning is a technique for splitting smaller pieces of wood with a knife. It involves placing the knife on one end of the piece of wood and the other end of the wood on the ground. The back of the blade should then be struck with another piece of wood to force it into the piece of wood that you are trying to split. With the blade of the knife now embedded horizontally into the piece of wood you should now strike the front part of the protruding blade. Strike this part of the knife regularly with equal force each time until the wood is split.

    Considerations when batoning

    When batoning it is important that you use a fixed blade, e.g. not a folding blade, knife. The knife should ideally be full tang, or narrowing tang otherwise you risk breaking the blade on the knife and causing yourself injury. Batoning should only be attempted on pieces of wood that have a diameter that is smaller than the length of the blade of the knife. For larger pieces of wood an axe should be used.

    Axe techniques for splitting wood

    Weekend bushcraft course

    Larger pieces of wood will need to be split with an axe. Remember to ensure that you are stood or knelt in such a way that, should the axe slip, it will not strike your legs (or any other part of your body).

    Splitting smaller rounds

    Smaller rounds of wood can be most easily split by holding the axe and the round of wood horizontally together so that the head of the axe is in contact with the top of the round. The axe and round of wood should then be brought down together hard on a raised surface - such as a tree stump.

    Splitting larger pieces of wood

    Choose a stump about knee height and place the larger piece of wood on this stump at the furthest stable distance away from your body. Position your legs away from the stump so that should your swing miss the axe will not hit your body. Raise the axe to around chest height, ensuring that you have a good two-handed grip on it, then bring the axe down, in a smooth and slow motion, into the wood that you want to split. Remember to let the weight of the axe do the majority of the work.

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    Carving feather sticks

    Feather sticks are a great way of lighting a fire when it is damp. The can be made from small rounds of wood that have been split either by axe or by batoning. Watch the video below to learn how to make feather sticks.

    Watch: Carving Feather Sticks

     

    Kit

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

     

    Further Reading

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

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    Cook fish in the wild
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    Sharpen your bushcraft axe
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    Sharpen your bushcraft knife
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    LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE. 

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    Family bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft knife safety

    How to Introduce Your Family to Bushcraft

    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.

     

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    INTRODUCE YOUR FAMILY TO BUSHCRAFT WITH OUR  FAMILY BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

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    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

     

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    INTRODUCE YOUR FAMILY TO BUSHCRAFT WITH OUR  FAMILY BUSHCRAFT COURSE 

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    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. 

     

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    Cook fish in the wild
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    Family Bushcraft Course
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    Intermediate bushcraft course

    Intermediate Bushcraft Course

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

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

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

    What will I learn on the course?

    Bushcraft courses from Wildway Bushcraft

     

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

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

     

    Long-term shelter building

    Intermediate bushcraft course

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

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

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

     

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    Large game butchery

    Large game butchery

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

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

    Primitive smoking techniques

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

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    Advanced fire lighting

    advanced fire lighting

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

    Traps, snares, and foraging

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

    Book your place

    Book your intermediate place

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

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    Truly get away from it all

    Canoeing the river Spey in 2018

    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.

     

     

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    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

     

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    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

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    bushcraft knife

    Light a Fire, Leave No Trace

    When choosing a spot on which to have your campfire it is best to make sure that it is close to a water source or that you have plenty of water to hand. This will come in handy when it comes to clearing up your fire in the morning.Bushcraft is about existing in harmony with nature, not about overcoming or conquering it. This harmony means working with what nature has made available and not damaging it, unless absolutely necessary. This is particularly true when it comes to fire lighting. Campsites and woods are often littered with the remains of fires, charred ground and, more often than not, tin cans and the remains of meals.

    In this blog, we’re going to look at the bushcraft skill of fire lighting without damaging the surrounding environment. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or click on the links below to skip to the section that interests you the most.

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     Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
    Click here to learn more. 

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    Minimising your impact 

    light a fire leave no trace


    In reality, any interaction with the natural world is going to alter it in some way. From gathering dead wood to make a fire through to digging a latrine our very existence in nature, which we are part of, alters it in some way. As
    bushcraft practitioners, however, we need to ensure that we minimise our inevitable impact on the natural world.

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    Preparing your fire 

    Leave no trace
    When it comes to leaving no trace of your fire it is all about thinking ahead. This section shows how you make sure that you minimise your impact on the environment with a little bit of prior planning.

    • Ensure that you’re close to a water source
      When choosing a spot on which to have your campfire it is best to make sure that it is close to a water source or that you have plenty of water to hand. This will come in handy when it comes to clearing up your fire in the morning.
    • Choosing your materials
      When it comes to choosing materials with which to light your fire you should look for those that not only minimise your impact on the natural world but, also, of course, are suitable for fire lighting. Look for dead standing wood rather, than cutting anything off trees; not only is this good etiquette but also green, recently cut wood will not easily burn. When collecting firewood it is important to correctly gauge the amount that you need;  come the morning you don’t want to leave a smoldering pile of half burned logs.

    Prepare your fire lighting materials in advance so that you are not scrabbling around for extra materials once your fire is going.

     

    • Preparing the ground
      After having gathered your firewood, it’s time to prepare the ground.  Begin by clearing the ground of all dead leaves and debris. Lay down a base of dead and dry wood, around a few centimetres in diameter. This base will not only improve the air flow to the fire but will also protect your kindling from the damp ground.

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    Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
    Click here to learn more

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    Clear up after the fire

    Leave no trace when wild camping
    After having had your fire it is time to clean it up. Having carefully gauged the amount of wood that you will need on the fire you should be left with only a few embers in the morning, not half-burned logs.

     

    • Douse the embers
      Using the water that we mentioned earlier, dowse the embers. After having covered them in water put your hands into the mix to check that the ground below is cool.
    • Distribute the ashes
      Having checked that the ashes are cool scatter them in the area surrounding the campsite. Be sure to scatter them well, don’t dump them all in the same place.
    • Cover up the site of the campsite
      Having distributed the ashes cover up the place where your campfire was with surrounding materials. Do this is a way that is fitting with the natural environment.

    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 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/

    • 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 DC4Fallkniven DC4This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
      https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/ 
    • Tarps
      Tarp set-ups, how to set up a tarp from Wildway Bushcraft

      Here 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 3x3 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:

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    Join our weekend bushcraft course and learn the art of fire lighting, shelter building, water sourcing and more.
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