Since I was knee high to a badger my delight in the outdoors has abounded. Time as a boy spent in the woods, and especially on the Sussex farm managed by my Grandpa, formed a foundational interest in living, working and playing in wild places. The joy of making things from sticks, creating an open fire, using a pen-knife, eating al fresco and observing wild animals and plants has become an enduring passion.
Discovering the realm of Bushcraft and survival skills was a revelation, purchasing my first copy of ‘The SAS Survival Handbook’ aged twelve gave to many hours of experimentation in the practical skills required to enjoy wild places with confidence. Some of the experiments were mildly hazardous, and I found out as a youth why it is not a good idea to construct a full size arrow firing boar trap in your suburban back garden.
My library is somewhat biased toward the work of Ray Mears, and I enjoy the incredible diversity of indigenous skill and wisdom he presents, which enable communities to live more harmoniously with their local environment. A friend at work introduced me to the Bushcraft School Woodland-Ways, and the notion of studying and learning practical wilderness skills woke a deep yearning in me. Consequently I enrolled on the Woodland Wayer Course entailing two years of practical training entirely based outdoors, which is the most comprehensive course I could find.
Study is split into seventeen weekend modules, and it is my intention to write a blog after each, to share some of my favourite things about what I am learning.
The Woodland Wayer 2013 intake began in March. Clearly a meeting of kindred spirits, undaunted by cold and wet, students and staff enjoyed a long weekend revising the foundational skills of choosing and using bladed tools. Much sawing, chopping, batoning, whittling and carving was had around the camp fire. The process of safely teasing a spoon from a lump of Sycamore was expertly overseen by Jason Ingamells and Kevan Palmer.
It is a great pleasure to be studying something so close to my heart, and to share that with my family and friends. In time I hope to qualify as a Bushcraft instructor and further learn the way of the woods by sharing it with others.