The following post was kindly written by Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day:
Though spring can seem a long way off during the final throes of a British winter, it won’t be long before the new course season starts!
For me, this year is especially exciting because I will be working on some courses that I’ve never worked on before. Some of my outdoorsy books have been removed from their shelf and are lying around the house in various stages of read-ness, the backs of my notebooks are full of diagrams of things I want to make, lists of kit I need to mend and things I need to do in preparation for the new season.
However, one aspect of preparation that isn’t always mentioned in conjunction with Bushcraft is fitness. Although the set up of a camp and the day-to-day running of it demand more walking about than an average day in an office job, many of the skills that form part of your outdoor arsenal are aimed at minimising the amount of energy required and working efficiently; but that doesn’t mean being unfit is fine – it’s not.
A recent training exercise made it quite clear just how important fitness is. Quite apart from increasing your ability to get yourself out of trouble, it frees you up to enjoy every moment you spend outdoors. If you’re slogging up a hill, out of breath, the scenery will be of less interest than if you’ve just loped up it with relative ease; or put another way, the quicker you collect firewood/dig the trench/collect water, the more time there is to watch wildlife/sit around the campfire or learn a new skill – the stuff of great and lasting memories.
Use this time of year to gear up for the coming spring: practice your skills (particularly fire lighting!) in the more difficult conditions, get out and learn how to identify trees without their leaves, go bird watching – see if you can spot any winter visitors before they depart and… GET FIT, so that when the opportunity arises you can be off, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready for whatever the new season can throw at you!
Spring is usually a delight. Nevertheless, Winter is still here, to be enjoyed. It is the best time to do woodland maintenance work. Also tracks tend to be easier to see because of the presence of mud and snow. With the help of the 2 Prebens book (Animal Tracks and Signs) I know more animals than I see in our own part of the country.
And winter camping is exhilarating and rewarding when practiced with suitable knowledge and equipment. But Sarah’s remarks about fitness are even more appropriate then. Daylight is shorter in Winter, and wood must be gathered and prepared quickly, which needs some stamina and commitment.
Great post, thanks for sharing, Sarah!
It amazes me how much people are dehydrated, Sean. Water is key to life yet people choose ”Coca Cola” instead. I try to drink 3-4 litres a day. Cleans out your system, makes you feel amazing, and relaxes the mind. Drink more water!
Great post Sarah! Outdoor wilderness living really does require being fit & healthy! Stamina, Strength(physical & mental), Flexibility are all very helpfull and usefull! When the body is healthy, the mind becomes healthy.
Hard to believe Spring is only 1 month away, it only seems like yesterday I was collecting Birch Sap! Time flys while you’re having fun Bushcrafting!
Winner of Comment of the Week
Brilliant advice, thank you Ms. Day. It’s absolutely true about increased fitness really enhancing your enjoyment of the outdoors. Everyone, eat plenty of protein and healthy fats and vegetables and stay away from too much grains and processed food and drink lots of water- 3 or 4 big glasses a day if you can manage it- this is one of the most neglected aspects of health and fitness. Haha. Enjoy the outdoors all