Learn bushcraft

At Wildway Bushcraft, we firmly believe that that bushcraft is about more than just survival. Our wilderness living and bushcraft courses held in beautiful woodland on the Dorset/Hampshire border teach much more than how to build a shelter.

Our passionate and knowledgable instructors help you to develop a deep understanding of the woods, to respect nature and to know how best to use it to your advantage. We work with you to develop your skills so that living in the woods is not a matter of simply surviving, but thriving.  After all, a true student of bushcraft is never uneasy in the woods, why would they be? It is their natural environment.

Read on to learn more about a few of the bushcraft courses that we offer at Wildway Bushcraft

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

 

Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living Course Level 2
– Weekend Bushcraft Course. (IOL Accredited Course).

This IOL Accredited Course covers all the basics of bushcraft and wilderness living. It is a great course for those who are just starting their bushcraft journey. Those who might be a little further along and just benefit from refining their skills will also take a lot from this course.

Shelter autumn

 

Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living Level 2
– Assessment. (IOL Accredited Course)

Having completed your Level 2 course you have a chance to take your assessment. If you are successful in this assessment then you will be awarded the Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living Course – Level 2. This course will be fully certified by Wildway Bushcraft. It is accredited with IOL. This will prove you have undertaken a professional and high standard course and assessment within the area of Bushcraft and Wilderness Living.

 

Intermediate Course

Our intermediate bushcraft course is aimed at those who want to take their skills to the next level. Running over a week, this course enables you to experience true wilderness living. Our highly skilled instructors will work with you on advanced bushcraft techniques and expand on your knowledge of traditional skills. 

friction fire lighting from Wildway bushcraft

 

Women Only One Day Course

This elementary bushcraft course enables women to learn, practice and perfect traditional bushcraft skills in a single-sex environment. Whilst this course is taught by male instructors we are mindful to ensure that participants get the benefit of a women-only learning environment. 

 

More amazing courses 

That is just a handful of the courses on offer. Click here to see our full range of courses. From Stag Dos to Family Bushcraft Courses or incredible canoeing expeditions – we have something for everyone at Wildway Bushcraft.

 

 

DISCOVER OUR FULL RANGE OF COURSES

canoe bushcraft

Courses at Wildway Bushcraft are about more than just survival. They are about true bushcraft, about living in harmony with nature, about existing in harmony with the world around us. This philosophy underpins all of our courses. No ridiculous, over the top macho stuff from us, just practical, tried and tested techniques which, once learned, enable you to live comfortably in the woods.

One of our more popular courses is the Weekend Bushcraft Course. This IOL Accredited course takes place over three days (Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday morning) and gives you a chance to take your Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living Level 2 – Assessment at a later date.

In this latest blog, we take a look at what is involved in our Weekend Bushcraft Course. Read on to find out more.

 

Overview of our wilderness living course

shelter building on our Weekend bushcraft course Wildway Bushcraft


Each of the elements of our courses is designed so that they inform one and other. Everything you learn on this course will have multiple uses and will be used many times over the course of the weekend.

 

Fire lighting

Fire lighting is a key wilderness living skill. Without the ability to cook food and keep yourself warm you will soon be very uncomfortable in the woods and what should be an enjoyable time will turn into a miserable experience. 

On our weekend bushcraft course, we show you how to make fire through a variety of means. This includes using components that you can pre-prepare, such as cotton and vaseline balls and char cloth. We will also show you more immediate ways of fire lighting, that could be deployed in an emergency, such as using wire wool and batteries. Our main focus though is on traditional fire lighting techniques.

bow drill being used in the woods

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Traditional fire lighting techniques

 

Friction fire lighting UK


We will demonstrate more traditional fire lighting techniques including the bow drill. You will also get a chance to make and try out your own bow drill. Don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time, our expert instructors will be on hand to help you out and give you tips that you can practice at home.


If you would like to know more about what to expect when using a bow drill then take a look at these blogs:

Book your space on our weekend bushcraft course

 

Shelter building

shelter building on a weekend bushcraft course

Having a solid shelter that can withstand the elements, keep you warm and be livable is another key element of wilderness living.  On our weekend bushcraft course, we will teach you various cutting techniques, using knives and axes, tips for making cordage and site selection. These skills will be combined to help you build your shelter. You will then have a chance to sleep in your shelter on Saturday night.

 


Remember, this course is what you make of it. If you would rather sleep in a tent or under a tarp on both nights just let us know!

 

Campfire cooking 

campfire cooking


Ah, the joys of cooking over a campfire. Is there anything better? On our weekend bushcraft course, set in a beautiful Dorset woodland, we will teach you the art of campfire cooking. You will have a chance to cook the small game (fish, fin, and fur) that you will prepare throughout the course over a fire.

 

If you have any dietary requirements or preferences, let us know and we can accommodate them. 

 

Water sourcing

Water sourcing is a key wilderness living skill. Without the ability to find drinkable water you won’t be able to live in the woods for long. On this course, we will show you how to find water and then filter it in order to make in drinkable. We will also show you how to make a filter using natural materials and what you should consider when sourcing water in the wild.

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Knife skills

bushcraft knife skills

 

Aside from knowledge a knife, or in certain circumstances an axe, is the most important thing that you can take with you. At Wildway Bushcraft, we are not precious about knives. They are tools to be used and you should be able to rely upon them. Like all tools though, they are worthless unless you are able to use them correctly. On this weekend bushcraft course, we will teach you a few basic knife and axe skills which will enable you to construct shelters, prepare small game, make tent pegs, construct a bow drill and much, much more.

Learn more about knives and axes for bushcraft in the blogs below: 

Book your space on our weekend bushcraft course

 

Much more 

There is loads more to learn on our weekend bushcraft course. Read what previous customers made of the course on TripAdvisor here.


                                                      Read our reviews on TripAdvisor here.

 

In 2019, our weekend bushcraft courses will take place on the following dates: 

 

 

Book your space on our weekend bushcraft course

 

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

A tarp is one of the handiest pieces of kit when sleeping out in nature. Whether you are hiking, cycling or generally exploring and looking for a wild camping spot, a tarp will give you a waterproof comfortable shelter for the night.

 

Why choose a tarp rather than a tent?

Firstly, they are lightweight and small to carry, this will minimise the weight on your back and the valuable space in your bag. There is no excess packaging, no inner and outer layer to wrestle with. It’s just a simple, minimalistic, user-friendly shelter. Perfect.

To ensure a comfy night’s rest don’t just throw your tarp up anywhere, there are a few considerations to be made:

Your kit;

Check your kit before you go, it would certainly make your trip less enjoyable to discover you have a big hole in your tarp or haven’t bought any paracord with you for your tarp guy lines. Likewise, with your sleeping system, check the zips on your sleeping bag as these can perish over time and it’s best to find that out in the warmth of your home rather than the cold wet moorland after a long hike.

Tarp set ups learn more on our one day bushcraft course

Hazel approves of the tarp set up.


Tarp Configuration
;

The tarp configuration is usually a combination of personal choice combined with the environment you are sleeping in. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with a few different set-ups before you go on your trip and often handy to have some notes to remind you, especially if you are still new to using a tarp. You may plan to use a certain configuration but arrive at your spot for the night to discover it wouldn’t be appropriate for that environment.

We all have our favourite set-ups but these are usually discovered through trial and error, so make changes, play around with your set up, find what works best for you. You’ll then find that you want or need to make changes in certain weather conditions too and if you’ve experimented with different set-ups and made alterations then you’ll be more adaptable and able to keep yourself warm and dry under your tarp.

Learn about tarp set-ups in our latest blog


Check the ground; 

Avoid marshy areas, no one likes a soggy sleeping bag. Check the vegetation around you, this will give you clues. If bog-loving plants are growing in the area this is a sure sign that the ground beneath your feet is soggier than it looks and is likely to make your tarp set up more unstable. Just because it’s not squelching beneath your boots doesn’t mean it won’t soak up through your kit if it isn’t properly waterproofed.

Pitches close to water also need to be considered carefully too, especially if it’s next to a river. You need to ensure your spot is not at risk of flash floods because as the name suggests, they happen in a flash and you really don’t get a warning that they are about to rush through your camp. This puts you in a dangerous situation.

Being near water increases your chance of having unwelcome guests, midges! Anyone who has wild camped in Scotland will know that these guys can be more than just a nuisance, and it’s amazing how big they can so think carefully about your location before inviting these little critters as dinner guests.

 

Environmental features;

Don’t tie yourself in knots and make life too difficult for yourself, take advantage of environmental features around you. If there are trees of an appropriate distance apart then use these rather than faffing with poles and extra lines. Or if there is a bank or large boulder that naturally provides shelter then why not incorporate this in to your tarp set up for more stability and extra shelter.

Direction of your tarp;

Consider the direction of your tarp, even if it isn’t windy when you are pitching it, that doesn’t mean that the weather won’t change through the night, you don’t want to be sleeping in a wind tunnel. Set up as if the weather is actually bad now, pitch as if the wind is strong with extra securing measures, this way if the wind does pick up in the night you won’t have to scrabble about in the dark when you are half asleep trying to prevent your tarp from turning into a parachute. Look around you for natural indicators to determine the prevailing wind direction, the trees are a good indicator for this, if the treetops are windswept and growing in a definite direction then this will tell you there is often a strong wind passing through that area so direct your tarp accordingly.

 

Tarp set ups from Wildway Bushcraft

Have fun

The most important thing though is to have fun. Packing lightly with just your kit and tarp can allow you to explore of the beaten track and discover areas you wouldn’t usually find. Obviously, follow the rules of wild camping and make sure you have the land owner’s permission to be there if on private land. So what are you waiting for, pack your kit and get out there to explore, discover and have fun.

 

Re-cap 

  1. Check your kit is in working order
  2. There are many different Tarp configurations, find which works best for you
  3. Check the ground is OK to pitch on to avoid a soggy night’s sleep
  4. Where appropriate use environmental features to help your set up
  5. Get your tarp direction right to avoid sleeping in a wind tunnel

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT SLEEPING AND EATING OUTDOORS ON OUR ONE-DAY COURSE 
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE 

 

Summer is here and there is no better time for getting out in the woods in the beautiful British countryside. Not only is being outside in the summer fun it’s also good for your mental health.

In fact, studies show that regular time outdoors can reduce stress, anxiety and make you feel more relaxed. For children being outside regularly can help them to develop confidence and develop their imaginations.  Learning bushcraft as a family is a great way to encourage children to get outside, for all the family to learn new skills and for children to learn respect and deference to the natural world.

Bushcraft courses in the UK for family

Bushcraft, harmony, and nature 

Bushcraft is one of the best ways of getting out in the woods and learning new skills together as a family. More than that though it is a great way of teaching children respect, responsibilities and a greater understanding of nature. Through bushcraft, children can develop a deeper connection with nature by learning the names of the trees, plants, and animals they see around them. In turn, this understanding teaches children to respect and value the natural world.  This is the true nature of bushcraft, not the bushcraft that you see on TV! After all, bushcraft is about so much more than just survival.  

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Mushrooms in autumn in the UK woods bushcraft courses in the UK

Bushcraft and responsibility 

Not only does bushcraft teach children respect for nature and give them a deeper understanding of the natural world it also teaches them responsibility. By teaching children how to safely use tools such as knives or axes and basic bushcraft skills such as fire lighting they can learn responsibility and respect for such tools and skills. It should go without saying though that it is best not to let children use knives and axes without supervision.

How to introduce your family to bushcraft

The world of bushcraft is huge, and it can be overwhelming to try and introduce your family to all of it at the same time. The best way to introduce your family to bushcraft is to start small. Look at the basics and then break them down into easily understandable chunks.

Bushcraft courses for children

Introduce your family to shelter building

Shelter building is a great place to start introducing your family to bushcraft. You don’t need to start with building a shelter from scratch, why not introduce your family to sleeping outside under a tarp first? This can be a particularly good starting point if you have younger children who are not used to camping. If they enjoy sleeping outside under a tarp then you can introduce them to basic lean-to shelter building.

Introduce your family to fire lighting 

In addition to building a shelter or sleeping under a tarp, fire lighting is a great bushcraft skill for children to learn. After all, what can beat sitting around a fire out in the woods? The first place to start with teaching fire lighting is to make sure that you’re doing it in a safe place that can’t cause a wildfire. Friction fire lighting might be too much of an advanced technique for children to learn straight away but learning how to choose the correct wood and build a fire can be a great place to start. 

What to expect on our family bushcraft course

 

Family bushcraft course


At Wildway Bushcraft, we believe that introducing children to bushcraft works best in a structured, friendly and enthusiastic environment. On our family bushcraft course, you and your family will learn how to build your own shelter, how to track animals, start a fire, cook over an open fire, carve a spoon and even make a bow and arrow. It is the perfect way to enjoy spending time together in the outdoors while learning new skills. This course can be run at any time convenient to yourself, just let us know when you are free and we will do our best to accommodate you.


Click here to learn more about our family bushcraft course.

 

Shelter Building Basics – What You Need to Know

 

Shelter building is one of the fundamentals of bushcraft. It is often more important for you to find shelter than it is to find food or water. Remember the rule of threes; three hours without shelter, three days without water and three weeks without food. This is obviously an extreme time scale, but it does show the importance of shelter building skills in bushcraft.

 

Basics of shelter building 

Read on to learn more about the basics of shelter building. For the sake of this blog, we are going to assume that you are in the woods with good tools and all the kit you should have.  Find out more about our guide to choosing a bushcraft axe here.

 

Basics of shelter building

 

 

What does your shelter need to do?

The first thing to consider when thinking about building your shelter is to ask, ‘what does it need to do?’. Think about the weather, how long you are likely to be staying in the area, how many people does it need to protect and how long do you have to build it? Asking yourself questions such as these before you start will save you time in the long run. 

 

 

Shelter building with wildway

 

Location of your shelter 

One of the most important considerations, once you’ve determined the purpose of your shelter, is the location. Long term shelters will need to be closer to a source of water than those that are just being used for a night or two. Your shelter also needs to be in close proximity to the materials that you will need to use to build it. Think about it this way, do you really want to be walking to and from to get water and materials or should you not just bring the shelter to the source. 

chose a location for your sehlter

Time and energy

The amount of daylight remaining and the amount of energy that you have left will also determine the type of shelter you should build. Late in the day and after a long walk you will want to build the simplist shelter possible. You can always work on it the next day if you are staying there for a while. 

 

Shelter building from Wildway Bushcraft

Natural aids 

Having chosen the location of your shelter and decided on what type of shelter you are going to build, have a look around at what natural features there are that could help you. Look for fallen tree branches that could make the basis of a lean-to, are there any caves in the vicinity that could shelter you? Natural features such as these can save you loads of time and make your shelter incredibly stable.  

How to learn shelter building basics 

The best way to learn shelter building is to join a course with an experienced bushcraft instructor. Our Weekend Bushcraft Course is accredited by the IOL and covers all the basics of bushcraft, including shelter building. During the course, we will teach you how to build a shelter in the woods and then give you the option of sleeping in it. If you would rather sleep in a tent or under a tarp then you are welcome to! 

Learn shelter building with Wildway Bushcraft

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). 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Organisation 

 

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. 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Recap 

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. 

 

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. 

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Further Reading 

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

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Tools

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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Fire 

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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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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

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.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

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

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

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. 

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

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. 

 Maximising the effectiveness of your sleeping kit means getting the most warmth out of the lightest set-up. This enables you to sleep out in nature in all seasons and carry less weight, in terms of backpacking this means that you can cover more miles. Maximising your sleeping kit does not, though, mean that you need to spend a fortune on a lightweight sleeping kit. While lightweight backpacking kit is, typically, more expensive by understanding how your current setup works you can get the most warmth out of it without spending any extra money.

As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most. We will cover the kit that we mention towards the end of our blog but it is not a definitive list, if you’re looking to buy new pieces of kit then it is always best to try it yourself rather than relying on recommendations.

 

Understanding your sleeping kit

Understanding your sleeping kit

Understanding how your sleeping kit works helps you to maximise its warmth. Essentially, your sleeping kit is made up of your sleeping bag and a sleeping mat of some kind, we’re not going to cover tents, tarps or bivvy bags in this blog. We will look at sleeping bags in more detail later in this blog but this section shall focus on the general details.

  • Sleeping mat

    Sleeping mats provide two essential elements of a good night’s sleep – comfort and insulation. Insulation is provided by keeping your sleeping bag, and therefore your body, away from the ground as no matter what the temperature the ground is going to be colder than the air around it and, obviously, colder than your body temperature.

     

  • Closed cell foam mats

    These are the typical ‘Karrimat’ style sleeping mat. They are pretty inexpensive and by and large indestructible. They are also very well suited to cold conditions as they do not compress easily. In very cold weather they are best used in combination with a self-inflating or blow up mat.

     

  • Self-inflating mats

    These mats work with a combination of foam inside an air-tight pocket. The valve, when opened, lets air in and inflates the mat. Mats that you blow up work in the same principle but without the valve.

  • Insulation

    When a warm surface, in this case, your body, comes into contact with a colder surface heat is conducted away from the warm surface. So in the case of camping, particularly in colder weather, the ground will slowly take heat away from your body. Mats of all types, closed cell foam mats, self-inflating, blow-up, provide insulation from the ground reducing the speed at which heat is conducted away from your body.

     

  • Sleeping bag

    Your sleeping bag works by trapping air between your body and the outside world. We will look at how to maximise the warmth of this air later. This trapped air is what keeps you warm, it is for this reason that it is important to look for a sleeping bag that has a good baffle, this is the piece of the sleeping bag inside the hood which can be tightened around your neck to trap the air in.

     

  • Pressure points

    When your sleeping the parts of the sleeping bag under your back and shoulders are compressed. This flattens the fill of the sleeping bag and reduces its effectiveness. This is why the mat underneath you needs to be good enough to keep all parts of your body away from the colder ground.

     

  • Understanding temperature ratings

    Sleeping bags typically have temperature ratings that are as follows;  comfort rating, limit temperature and extreme temperature. The comfort rating is the temperature at which the bag can comfortably be used, the limit temperature is the temperature at which a person can use the bag, in a curled up position without feeling cold.  The extreme temperature rating should not be used as a guide when choosing a sleeping bag, as it is the maximum temperature at which the bag can be used without occurring extreme cold injuries, hypothermia or, death. The majority of popular commercial sleeping bags use the EN ISO 23537 system.

     

  • Choose the sleeping bag that you need

    When it comes to maximising the effectiveness of your sleeping kit it is important to choose the sleeping bag that you need. Sleeping bags that have a lower comfort rating are typically heavier. Therefore you need to balance warmth against weight. If you’re mostly camping out in the UK summers then there is no need to have a bag that goes down to – 22.

     

  • Clothing

    Wearing a thermal insulating layer in your sleeping bag can help you to keep warm. Understanding this enables you to take a lighter and lower rated sleeping bag particularly in the early Spring and Autumn months where the temperature can fluctuate wildly. Don’t wear the clothes that you have been walking in the sleeping bag, they are likely to be damp through sweat and dirt. A dirty sleeping bag is less effective than a clean one.  Remember also to protect your extremities, wear socks and gloves to protect your hands and feet.

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Warming your sleeping bag

Understanding how your sleeping bag works enables you to use a lighter weight, less warm bag, while still being comfortable. One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to sleeping bags is that they warm you. The reality though is that you warm the air trapped in the sleeping bag, this air in turn is what keeps you warm.

 

Ensure that the air is trapped in

Use the baffle of the sleeping bag, the padded part of the bag close to your neck, and the hood of the bag in order to trap the air in. It is important to do this in order not to create a bellows type effect, where the hot air is pushed out and the cold air sucked in. 

Use a hot water bottle 

There’s no need to take an actual hot water bottle with you, a metal water bottle can be filled with heated water, placed in a sock and put in your bag before sleeping. If you have the water and the fuel to spare this is an excellent way of keeping the bag warm. If you’re camping somewhere where you can have a campfire then simply fill the bottle with water and place it close to the fire.

Down vs Synthetic 

Ah down vs synthetic, it’s an age old debate. The correct answer, when it comes to which should you choose a down bag or a synthetic bag, is whichever one suits you. There are some key differences and considerations when it comes to down and synthetic bags which we will explain in the following section (if you’re going for down though make sure that it is ethically sourced). 

Down bags 

Typically down bags are lighter weight for warmth than synthetic bags. They compress down further than synthetic bags and are typically better at wicking than synthetic bags, therefore making them better in the summer months.

Synthetic bags

The key difference between down and synthetic bags is that synthetic bags are better in damp or wet conditions. When wet or damp down bags will typically lose the majority of their thermal properties, synthetic bags, however, will retain more of their thermal properties. They also tend to be cheaper than down bags. 

 

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Kit 

We’ve mentioned some kit above and aren’t going to touch upon it here. When it comes to sleeping kit though it is a matter of personal choice and finding out what works for you.  What’s outlined below is a brief run through of our choices of knives, axes and tarps.

Further reading 

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One of the key differences between bushcraft and survival is that bushcraft is about being comfortable in the woods. Working and living in harmony with nature, rather than trying to overcome it. Part of this involves the creation of shelters for more long-term, or intermediate-term, living in the woods. This blog is based on some of the skills that will be covered in our intermediate bushcraft course. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Considerations for long-term shelter building

Intermediate bushcraft course

Provided that you have some form of temporary shelter established then you and your group can look at building a more semi-permanent structure. This will enable you to live out in the woods for a longer period and in more comfort. While the following considerations, location, hygiene, etc. should always be considered they become of critical importance when staying in the woods for more than a weekend.

It should also be said that you need to consider your priorities when building a longer-term shelter. Having constructed a temporary shelter, sourced water and started a fire you can then start thinking about building a more permanent structure (provided that your food is covered). Don’t rush into building a long-term bushcraft shelter until these priorities have been met. Doing so will only burn unnecessary calories and exhaust you and your team.

Remember though, the only way that you can really learn and improve your bushcraft skills is by attending a bushcraft course. Take a look at our bushcraft courses here, or click the link below to book your space on our intermediate bushcraft course.

Advance your bushcraft

Location

Long-term shelter building

As with building any type of shelter, building a long-term shelter begins with choosing a good location. This should not only be somewhere where materials are abundant, the ground is free from plants that could cause irritants, such as Giant Hogweed, and the key to long-term bushcraft shelter building, close to a source of water. With a temporary one-night or weekend shelter, you may be able to carry in the water that you need for the duration of the trip you are extremely unlikely to be able to do the same when staying in the woods for a week. We’re going to look at more of these in detail in the following sections.

Water

It is best to build your shelter as close to a source of water as possible, without putting your shelter in danger of flooding. You will want to be within easy access of water as it is likely that you will need to make the trip to your source of water at least once a day.  Be aware of building your shelter on tracks and paths used by animals to access water. 

Materials

You should look to build your long-term bushcraft shelter where there is an abundance of building materials and firewood. The amount of material needed will be dependent upon the number of people in your group and the type of shelter that you are looking to build. A group lean-to for five occupants would obviously require more materials than, say, a simple tripod structure. 

Sun

The sun can provide warmth and light, great for morale when living in the woods for an intermediate period of time. Be sure to try and locate your long-term bushcraft shelter in a position that either shades you from the sun, useful in summer, or maximises your exposure to it, useful in winter.

Wind

Look at the trees in the surrounding area. The way that they are growing can help to give you an idea of the prevalent wind direction.  You will want to build your shelter in a position that is out of the wind and ideally has the prevalent wind direction passing across (e.g. not into or behind) the front of your shelter. This will help to keep the smoke from your fire out of your shelter will ensuring that you benefit from the fire’s heat,  it will also help you to minimise draft.

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Hygiene

Long-term shelter building
Hygiene is a hugely important and often overlooked aspect of bushcraft. Keeping your camp clean and organised is key to avoiding upset stomachs, contaminated food and, in a worse case scenario, the spread of disease.  
We look at organisation in bushcraft, particularly in terms of food, fire, and hygiene in our blog here.

Latrines

When building a long-term bushcraft shelter it is very important to consider toilet arrangements, this is particularly true if in a large group. Latrines should be dug far away from the camp and dug deep. Toilet paper should be burned or carried out with you. Be sure not to burn your toilet paper on the communal fire but instead burn it by the latrine and carry a Bic lighter or similar with you for this express purpose.

General hygiene

Keeping clean in the woods can be vital for boosting morale. When on a backpacking trip it is also vital to keep your feet in tip-top condition. A daily washing routine, downstream from where you source your water, can do wonders for lifting the spirits.  Be aware though that even natural shampoos can upset the delicate balance of the river so avoid them if possible. 

Advance your bushcraft

Fire

Long-term shelter building


The type of fire that you will need will be dictated by the type of shelter that you have built. A large group lean-to for five or so people will require a different fire to a lean-to or tripod structure for a single person.

Fuel

Fuel should be in abundance, something that you will have ensured when choosing the location of your bushcraft shelter. Firewood should have been collected and stored in your temporary shelter before you start work on your long-term structure. This will stop you having to collect it at the end of the day when you’re tired and the light is fading.

Keeping the fire going

The decision to keep the fire going throughout the day and night, perhaps working in shifts to do so, or to relight it every morning and/or evening is often down to how easy it is to light. If you’re able to ignite the fire using a fire steel and, say, birch bark, cotton wool or such materials then perhaps you would choose to regularly relight your fire. On the other hand, if you were forced by circumstances to light your fire using a bow drill, a method which can be highly energy intensive then it might be a better idea to save your strength and ensure that your fire remains alight.

Advance your bushcraft

Kit

Intermediate bushcraft course

There are a few key pieces of kit that you will need for building a long-term bushcraft shelter. These are outlined below, remember though, you need to choose the kit that suits your purposes and abilities.

  • Fallkniven DC4

    Fallkniven DC4This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/
  • KnivesBushcraft knife Bear Blades
    Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/
  • Axebushcraft axe
    A small axe, such as the Gransfors Bruk’s Small Forest Axe is indispensable for building a long-term bushcraft shelter. These axes weigh about 900 grams and have a handle length just shy of 49cm.
    https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/  

Further reading

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