Focus on ... Bushcraft

Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be exciting to some as it advances at a pace towards replacing us in many walks of life, but I can’t help harking back to The Terminator and the point at which computers became self-aware! I realise I am catastrophising, but just imagine a world where computers are more important than humans. Actually…are we already there? There must be a reason why bushcraft has become so popular in recent years. Are we trying to retreat from the inevitable?

An Introduction to Bushcraft - Denmark Farm Conservation Centre on
If you are considering a full on retreat from life ruled by technology, and you are tempted to learn to light a fire, how to get into living more sustainably, or you're in the habit of googling 'bushcraft courses near me,' it's probably worth exploring the differences between bushcraft and survival, two terms that are often juxtaposed or used interchangeably. Undoubtedly, there are overlapping skills relating to both, but survival tends to suggest a situation where a natural or man-made disaster necessitates utilising certain attributes and knowledge to overcome adversity and ... well, survive!

Bushcraft is generally accepted as the enjoyment experienced by living in a remote location, removed from the excesses and intrusions of modern society, and using a variety of skills and accomplishments to enhance life in simple ways. The appreciation of nature and its bounties is at the core of bushcraft.

Image credit: Gregorio Luiz on Unsplash
While survivalists would usually be honing and using their skills as a way to return safely and promptly to the civilisation they have been separated from, bushcrafters are usually striving to stay away!

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.” - John Muir
There are some key skills that most people wanting to practice bushcraft will need to acquire: 

  • Tools – using a saw and knife safely and effectively
  • Fire – confidently lighting and maintaining a campfire using a range of different methods
  • Shelter – constructing a shelter using natural and / or man made materials
  • Water – finding, filtering and purifying water so that it is safe to drink
  • Food – foraging for edible plants, preparing wild game (for the carnivores) and cooking these on a campfire
  • Navigation – finding your way by compass, the sun, stars and other natural methods
  • First aid – being able to look after yourself or someone else in case of injury or illness
Image credit: Baihaki Hine on Pexels

It sounds a bit like camping doesn't it? But, this is camping where your safety and comfort is entirely dependent on your ability to use these skills to their best advantage, rather than relying on an inflatable bed, GPS device, and a jet boiler. It's old school...and yet it's increasingly becoming new school!

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Image credit: Jens Johnsson on Pexels
You don't really need to disappear into the wilds for weeks and months to experience the positive vibes of getting close to nature, testing your practical skills, and feeling the exhilaration of leaving the paraphernalia of the daily grind behind. You can simply enjoy the challenge of spending a day or two in a beautiful, rural setting with a skilled teacher, learning a few new skills and reminding yourself of the joy of being outside listening to birds and the gentle crackle of your carefully prepared campfire.

“The forest makes your heart gentle. You become one with it. No place for greed or anger there.” – Pha Pachak

Image credit: Kindel Media on Pexels
After all, charred squirrel on a stick may not be to everyone's taste, but toasting marshmallows? That's something we can all appreciate without fear of upsetting any bushcraft purists, Ray Mears included. This is about a main course of enjoyment, with a side order of "where's the chocolate sauce!"

“When life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars.” – Unknown

Bushcraft Overnight: Spring - Denmark Farm Conservation Centre on

So, if you're looking to leave your normal behind and seek out an alternative reality, you can't go far wrong by trying out one of the bushcraft and bushcraft skills-related courses at CraftCourses.

Denmark Farm Conservation in Lampeter, Ceredigion has an Introduction to Bushcraft as well as Overnight Bushcraft in Spring and Summer if you would like to learn basic skills in a stunning 40 acre nature reserve managed by the charity The Shared Earth Trust.
Foraging with Denmark Farm Conservation Centre on

If you'd like to really hone your skills, Woodland Survival Crafts in Derbyshire, one of the longest established schools of Bushcraft and Survival in the UK, is offering 3-day Bushcraft Competency Training. Their focus is simple: equip, inspire and build confidence and understanding.
Bushcraft Competency Training - Woodland Survival Crafts on

How about 'A Night in the Woods' a 2-day overnight experience, close to nature in a beautiful tranquil 40-acre ancient oak woodland in Cornwall. Greenwood Music CIC specialise in providing Wellbeing in Nature workshops.

A Night in the Woods - Greenwood Music CIC on
"My son and I spent a night in the woods, we loved it, built our own dens to sleep in, had our own fire to boil our kettle on, we were right next the stream, it was lovely and relaxing, the only noise was the sound of wildlife. It was an amazing experience to sleep out in the woods, looking up through the trees at the stars. Phil made an amazing beef stew on the campfire, and cooked breakfast. We also did some knife craft. Perfect to get away from it all. Thanks Phil." - Sally T

Treat yourself to a 1-day Bushcraft Skills and Survival Course with Explore the Great Outdoors in Wiltshire, winners of The Best Woodland Courses in 2019.
Bushcraft and Survival Skills - Explore the Great Outdoors on
"Peter & Jackie welcomed the group into their lovely woods that were just beginning to burst into a bluebell carpet. I enjoyed the shelter building, water purification, cordage and navigation sessions and the fire lighting segment was particularly fun, instructive and even, at times, theatrical! Many thanks to "Explore The Great Outdoors" for a relaxing and informative day amongst the trees." - Carol D

Learn Bushcraft Fundamentals with Jack Raven Bushcraft in Ashford, Kent and gain a thorough grounding in the key skills of outdoor bushcraft and survival.
Bushcraft Fundamentals - Jack Raven Bushcraft on

If your craving for a bit of 'wild' is literally running wild, plan to get into the wild this year and take a step back to a simpler time. We know you'll have an amazing experience and if, having tried it, it's a bit too far on the wild side, check out each of our maker's pages for more of their inspirational (less wild) courses and workshops. 

“We all have to find our own way deep into the wild.” – Brené Brown

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