A Quest for Fire in New Guinea

The following post was written by Woodlore’s Head of Operations, Dan Hume:

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For most of my life I have been fascinated, amongst many other things, by fire, and from very early on in my childhood I set out on a path to learn the vast array of methods to conjure it. Needless to say, the journey ahead remains a long one, but I have had some great experiences along the way and I thought I might share my most recent with those that are interested. Continue reading

Win a Trip to Ontario, Canada with Ray Mears

‘The North is what makes Canada unique among nations. We have something here that no other country has – it offers Canadians a dual existence: to walk city streets and paddle forest rivers. The North provides the world-weary with an antidote to civilization; an antidote no longer available in much of the Western world.” – Grey Owl, 1936

Once again, Ontario Tourism is offering one lucky winner and their travelling companion the trip of a lifetime; the opportunity to explore the pristine wilderness and waterways of Northern Ontario with Ray Mears as your guide. To enter this amazing competition, please click here.

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#AskWoodlore – Interview with Keith Whitehead

Earlier this week we invited you to send us your questions for an interview with one of Woodlore’s Fundamental Instructors, Keith Whitehead, about our courses. Many of you kindly took the time to submit your excellent questions, and yesterday Keith sat down to answer them:

Fundamental Instructor Keith Whitehead

Keith teaching splicing on the Camp Craft course

Question: After just completing the last course of the season I finally understand what you and the other instructors have been saying when quizzed about the Journeyman. “The more you put in, the more you get out.” I put a lot into the course, physically and mentally, but I got a lot more out of the Journeyman, including good friends and an unforgettable but tough and rewarding experience. Dan, Keith and Rob, thanks for all your help, encouragement, support and sense of humour.My question to you, Keith – After the Journeyman and the obvious positive experience and impact it had on you, what course/adventure/challenge did you undertake next and why?I’m really interested to know how the Journeyman experience contributed to what you did next, plus I’m looking for something else to do after next year and you haven’t steered me wrong yet. 😜 – Chris G (WINNER OF KEITH’S FAVOURITE QUESTION)

Answer: Hi Chris, I’m glad that you enjoyed the Journeyman; you and your team did very well! Just like you, the course set me thinking very deeply about my approach to the outdoors and about what I would like to do next. I think that it is the subtle differences that really show through: you have a better idea of priority, you realize the importance of looking out for others and taking in the slack when you need to and you have a much better understanding of how to prepare for future trips.As far as what I decided to do next, I made the decision to make teaching and working in the outdoors a full time occupation. This in turn led me on to learning more advanced skills in the Arctic and here in the UK. I think the key is to use the skills that you have learned to pursue what you are passionate about. Once you have identified what that is, you can move forward better prepared and continue the learning. That’s something that never stops!
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#AskWoodlore – Keith Whitehead

“Scotland is the perfect location in which to host the final courses of Woodlore’s 2015 UK course season.  The stunning woodland of Perthshire has a very different feel to our usual forest home in the Weald, and certainly puts an edge on the courses that we run there.  There is a sense of urgency as the red squirrels scamper about, making ready for the winter, and the fallow begin to rut, occasionally bellowing their presence through the mists that hang low in the trees.

There is urgency too in the students who build their homes and begin to gather the essentials that will sustain them through the coming week on our Journeyman course.  All those who attended our Fundamental Lochside and Journeyman courses this year had a taste of this beautiful place, and some even enjoyed an unseasonal spell of very warm weather!  Well done to all, but especially to those who attended the Journeyman course – it is an achievement to be proud of.”

– Keith Whitehead

A shelter built during the Journeyman course

A shelter built during the Journeyman course in Scotland

Keith Whitehead, one of our Fundamental Instructors, has very kindly offered to participate in an interview this week, in between his busy quartermaster duties, preparing for our winter expedition in Canada, and taking some time off for a well-earned rest. So, if you have any questions you would like to put to Keith for a short interview about the Woodlore course season, or anything else relating to our courses, please post it in the comments section at the bottom of this article. Alternatively, you can post your questions on facebook or twitter using the hashtag #AskWoodlore.

The interview will take place on Thursday 29th October, so please get your questions to us by Wednesday 28th October at 5pm and a selection of them will be answered by Keith.  We look forward to hearing from you.

The person who asks the best question, as chosen by Keith, will receive a £20 Woodlore voucher.

Keith Whitehead

Woodlore Fundamental Instructor Keith Whitehead

How To Make Your Own Bowsaw

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A folding saw is an essential item of equipment when travelling in woodland areas, but sometimes something a little larger can ease the workload and open up possibilities. Carrying a buck saw or pack saw is one way to address this, but if you want to travel a little lighter it is possible to carry just the blade and improvise a frame from the woodland; one of the many skills taught on the Woodlore Camp Craft course. The bending of the wood is usually facilitated by heating, but this is not always necessary as you will see. For this guide, we used a 24″ Bahco Bowsaw Blade.

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2016 UK Courses are Now Available to Book

The wait is over – we are pleased to announce that our UK courses for 2016 are now available to book on our website, so why not start or continue your Woodlore journey…

We are also giving away a free Petzl Headtorch with every 2-day or week-long UK course booking made by 31st October 2015. Please read our previous post for further details.

UK Bushcraft Courses

The serene loch in Scotland where the Journeyman takes place

How often do you yearn for something truly inspirational to shake up your life and open the door to a new and exciting world of adventure? For Woodlore instructors Dan Hume and Keith Whitehead, this is exactly what happened when they first made the decision to book onto a Woodlore course. They found the passion, insights and skills that are the gateway to the wilderness beyond our courses and on to their own trips and expeditions. We invite you to take your first steps in to the wilderness with Woodlore.

In the time since I started exploring the natural world, I have had the privilege to witness more of its variety and splendour than I could ever have imagined. Woodlore has taken me on a tremendous journey that has really only just begun. Why not start yours now and see where it takes you?” – Dan Hume

Woodlore put everything together for me and from the minute that I walked into the woods, everything made sense. The outdoor world is now a far more vibrant place and there is a lifetime of learning and adventure ahead of me.” – Keith Whitehead

A stunning landscape in Canada

A stunning landscape in the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, Canada

 

Zebra Mussels: The Striped Menace!

The following post was written by Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day.

Our wonderful waterways are now being accessed and enjoyed by more people than ever. The rivers teem with canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders, as well as the traditional rowers and anglers. Most are aware to some degree of the risks of sharp (often man-made) debris in the river, fallen trees, and the hazard of the water itself – even that of Weil’s disease – but many are unfamiliar with the harm that their own actions can cause to the ecosystem and how they can avoid doing so.

I was paddling recently in the River Stour in Suffolk, near Langham. My partner spotted a jawbone (probably from a cow) on the river bed of the shallow section and picked it out to show me. It wasn’t the worn teeth and odd hole through the side that I noticed first though – it was the tiny, striped mollusc shell clinging to the bone.

The zebra mussell found by Sarah

The zebra mussell found by Sarah

I recognised it from the warning poster I’d seen at Alton Water the week before. It was almost certainly a zebra mussel; an invasive species of freshwater mussel, native to Russia, that probably came here originally in the ballast water of ships. It is small but prolific, and can totally clog up water treatment plants, kill native swan mussels, and cause lake beaches to become virtually unusable due to the swathes of sharp shell fragments.
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