Monday, 17 February 2014

Winter Bushcraft Challenge - February 2014

Ive just arrived home from an excellent weekend attending the Winter Bushcraft Challenge at Wilderness Survival Skills down in Wiltshire, UK.
Its a great chance to practice the real skills of bushcraft in a lovely Hazel copice, with Oak and Ash standards, surrounded by other mixed blocks of woodland, and plenty of wildlife.

We were allowed to take with us a Knife, Folding Saw, Billy Can, Firesteel, Wool Blanket, and Wooden cup as the main kit with a dry bag containing a mobile phone, first aid kit, meds, camera and notebook.

Wool clothing with a cotton type outer windproof layer were the choice of most folks too. It was in no way a hindrance wearing this kit. It works perfectly for lots of reasons.

So good old fashioned debris shelters, beds, and large fires were to be prepared on the first day, with a misson to locate water and food hiden in the woodland, to cook up a well needed meal in the evening, before bedding down for a good sleep. The idea wasn't to rough it, but to live it. I love these sorts of trips to the woods, its what bushcraft is all about for me, and the longer I'm on a trip, the more I can move away from the basics of survival and into more consuming subjects like tracking, hiking, nature observation, wild foods, and crafts.

We started out the day with the remains of yet another powerful storm, which subsided in the morning of day 1, followed by several dumplings of rain, some hail, then an excellent still cold and clear night with a nearly bright full moon. Full sun and a frost on the morning of day two, and I was very glad of my healthy stack of boney Oak firewood.

Here are a few pictures of my short but happy little venture into the winter woods of Wiltshire.

Starting the framework of the lean too shelter. 
Near loads of firewood fallen from two Oak trees, 
and a little shelter from the breeze by the Holly bush.
Sprung bed of Douglass Fir, and the preparation for firelighting, 
sheltering from yet another soaking on the first day.
Little curls for big sparks.
Small amount of dry thin coniferous kindling found, 
meant only two feather sticks were needed.
Brewage, and man was I ready! No fluids for several hours of hard graft. 
Only the billy to collect and boil water, 
and it was a bit of a walk away to the water source, 
which makes you appreciate a water bottle or a larger billy.
Filleting the fish for Tea, to go with the rice.
Watching and waiting. He wasn't the only one dribbling. 
"Good colour, but needs a dram of whiskey though" ; )
Turning in for the night. Boney Oak and merino wool blanket for warmth.
So comfy, I had a cheeky lie in till a respectable 07:45hrs 
and I watched the woodland doing its thing for a while. 
Up twice in the night to throw on some more Oak, within 10 hours. 
Roll on next time