James Smith attended his first course, the Fundamental Bushcraft, with us in April this year and caught the ‘bushcraft bug’. Here is a short review from James after completion of his second course, the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears, which he booked very shortly after returning home from the Fundamental Bushcraft course:
As anyone reading this may appreciate, completing the Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft course can leave you with severe withdrawal symptoms! This was certainly true for myself. So before I’d even unpacked all my gear I jumped at the chance to attend a Carving Masterclass with Ray Mears.
Many aspects of bushcraft require patience and observation: carving is no exception. As students we were encouraged to take our time, deal with problems early on (‘a philosophy for life’) and also factor in some breaks. After all, tiredness and very sharp tools do not mix well…
Throughout the course Ray and his assistants were constantly on hand to offer advice and guidance, all within easy reach of the campfire kettle. Slowly but surely we turned humble pieces of birch into spoons.
Spoons?! On the surface it can seem like no big deal. But there are many valuable skills and procedures involved in the creation of even the most utilitarian of objects – skills that we are increasingly losing touch with. If you want to gain a new appreciation of simple, everyday objects, try making some of them!
Huge thanks to Ray, Keith, Steve, Jamie and all at Woodlore for a truly unforgettable day.
Now, I just need to befriend a tree surgeon…
Carved spoons from the Fundamental Bushcraft and Carving Master Class courses –
Last weekend saw the Woodlore outdoor team gather together for their annual staff training. This year, the team took an in-depth view of some of the essential professional skills required to run successful courses safely in any environment. We were joined by Jamie Cooke, a world leader in resuscitation practice and Specialist Instructor on our First Aid courses, who gave the team their regular top-up of knowledge and training. Ray led the team in looking at the complications and hazards of leading overseas expeditions and how we can use our experiences to improve and inform our teaching on Woodlore’s exceptional range of UK training courses.
Team Training 2017
Between times, the team had the opportunity to come together and enjoy the warmth of the Woodlore camp fire, sharing food and stories of what has happened since the last season together. On the final day, Ray once again led the team and demonstrated a rich diversity of skills which will be embedded into our courses over the coming year. Woodlore is constantly moving forward in terms of equipment, knowledge and technique so these times spent together in the woods are essential. It means that our clients in the coming year will have a learning experience that is current, relevant and absolutely second to none.
It is with deep regret that Woodlore must pass on this sad and tragic news:
“Yesterday morning I received the news that Stephen Wade Cox had passed away. I speak for all the team when I say that we were profoundly upset by such an unexpected tragedy. Over the past eight years we had come to recognise his astonishing and ever growing talent as a knife maker. A perfectionist and thorough professional, he was a joy to work with. Throughout this year I had worked very closely with him in the development of the Woodlore Knife Pro. This provided me the opportunity to know him better. There was much to admire in Stephen, he was calm, cheerful, thoughtful and a reliable man who loved his children. As a professional he was incredibly skilful but also humble, always at pains to honour the craftsmanship of the other knife makers who had inspired him. In his passing, Great Britain has lost one of the Worlds most talented knife makers.
Stephen will be a sorely missed member of the Woodlore Team. He last visited us just a few days ago when he had been looking forward to a holiday, full of joy and happiness. This is how I shall always remember him; smiling, happy and certain in the knowledge that his talents were fully appreciated.” – Ray Mears
Our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this heartrending time.
When we hunt for our own food, we can rest assured that the animal has led a free and natural life, that has come to an instant and humane end. Deer have been hunted in the woodlands of Britain for thousands of years and, as such, their meat forms a very natural part of our diets.
Venison is one of the leanest and healthiest of red meats, and a casserole provides a great way of cooking it outdoors. The Hunter’s Stew is a hearty, warming meal that is perfect for the cold evenings of winter and early spring. The dish shown here was cooked in a small Dutch Oven suspended over the fire, and served two people.
It’s been a while since we shared any of your creations, so we thought we’d come back with a bang. Australian customer Richard Spencer displays not one, but two of his knife handles, made using the classic Hand Forged Knife Blade:
What’s better than one of Julius Pettersson‘s blades? More than one! I am very lucky to have two of them:
A fine-looking pair of hand-finished knives
The lower blade is set in the traditional way, with antler segments separated by some oiled birch in the middle and the tang hammered at the end. This was great fun, but it is possible to avoid all the filing and drilling – start haunting second-hand market stalls…
I found the top handle in a car boot sale. The blade to which it belonged had rusted very badly and it took almost no effort to remove the old corroded loose tang and so rescue the horn, alloy and some of the leather segments.
There’s a section of epoxy putty behind the guard to get the spacing right and there was a very large hole in the horn handle, so the Pettersson tang had to be set in epoxy, but it is rock solid. The nicest thing being that the old handle has been given new purpose.
The following post was written by Woodlore’s Quartermaster and Aspirant Instructor Keith Whitehead:
I’m sometimes asked during the winter months if things at Woodlore are quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s true that our UK season has wound down following the end of the Journeyman Course, but there is still work to do and adventure to plan.
Keith Whitehead, working a deer hide during the Journeyman course
One of my first tasks as Quartermaster is to organise the course equipment so that it is ready for the next season. This, as you might imagine, takes some time and, sometimes, during the process of organising and sorting through the stores, I come across a lost gem that sparks the imagination. One such gem is an old catapult. When I first set eyes on it, there was a glimmer of a memory from years ago and I recognised it as being the same item pictured in The Survival Handbook, written by Raymond Mears in 1990. I received the book as a present soon after its publication and was immediately enthralled by it. This was to be one of the stepping-stones that led me to Woodlore and started my journey with the company. Continue reading →