Tag Archives: courses

Final Preparations for the Season Ahead

The following post was written by Woodlore’s Head of Operations, Dan Hume, with regard to this year’s annual staff training in East Sussex:

This week saw another successful passing of the annual field staff training at Woodlore, and our dedicated team of instructors are now poised and ready for the exciting course season ahead which begins with the first British courses early next month.

As our clients will attest, many of the bush skills Woodlore teaches are perishable and so even the fundamentals of bushcraft must be practiced regularly to avoid deterioration. Every year the team gets together to both catch up with each other after the winter and to maintain, refresh and extend their knowledge of a selection of crucial skills. And this year was no different.

This time we concentrated on a small but important selection of subjects; cordage making was the first, being much more of a challenge outside of the summer months due to the availability of suitable materials. Nevertheless, we went out into the forest to collect natural fibres before turning them into beautiful and functional cord.

We then looked at several trapping techniques gathered from around the world, from Africa to Scandinavia and of course here in Britain too. Travelling in the wilderness is made far safer if knowledge of how to feed a party is possessed by those involved. It is similar to first aid knowledge; you hope you never have to use it but it is there if you need to rely on it. It also breeds confidence as you relax in the knowledge that you can look after yourself and those accompanying you in a crisis.

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Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day prepares a warming meal for lunch in the Dutch oven

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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

#AskWoodlore – Interview with Sarah Day

Just over two weeks ago we asked you to send us some questions for an interview with one of Woodlore’s Aspirant Instructors, Sarah Day. Many of you took the time to kindly send us your questions, which we then whittled down to the best 10 and Sarah took some time out of her busy schedule to give us this insightful interview:

Sarah Day

Sarah Day taking part in Woodlore’s swift water training

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#AskWoodlore – Sarah Day

Following on from our recent article in which Woodlore Instructor Keith Whitehead answered your questions, we thought we would keep the ball rolling with a new interviewee. This time around we’re giving you the chance to put your questions to Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day.

Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day

Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day

To put your question to Sarah, simply 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. All questions must be posted by midday on Friday 1st May, and a selection of them will then be put to Sarah.

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

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Essential Skills for the Season Ahead

The following post was written by Woodlore Fundamental Instructor and Quartermaster, Keith Whitehead:

Last week saw the members of Woodlore’s field staff gathering in East Sussex for their annual training week. After a winter apart, this was an opportunity to meet once again, share stories, reaffirm friendships and get down to the serious business of preparation for the coming year. Every member of the team is expected to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the subject that inspires us all and we were not left disappointed by the level of professionalism, leadership and skill that is the mark of our team.

Ray teaching during staff training week

Ray spoke to his field staff about the importance of first aid in wild places

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Your Chance to Interview Woodlore Instructor Keith Whitehead

Some of you dedicated Woodlore blog fans may remember an interview that took place with Dan Hume back in August 2011, that comprised of questions asked by you.  This year we are offering you the chance to put questions to our recently appointed Instructor Keith Whitehead.  Keith has very kindly offered himself up as an interviewee, and will be answering a selection of your questions on topics chosen by you.

Keith Whitehad

Woodlore Instructor Keith Whitehead

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Prepare for Life

In the heart of winter, it can seem that the long, dark nights are closing in around us. But the forest, seemingly asleep, is already making preparations for the most spectacular of its annual displays. The days are already starting to draw out again as we are blessed with crisp mornings, and soon we will feel the excitement of change in the air. Look closely and you will see that buds of many trees are already formed, holding close their furled treasure; spring is waiting.

Buds

The magic of the British woodlands in spring is the wonder of transformation and new life. The leaner times of winter are washed away in a flood of colour, scent and sound. Once again we can rest in coppices bathed in the deep perfume of ramsons; walk beneath the cathedral bowers of the beech, fresh in the succulence of their new leaves; drift slowly to sleep, lulled by the heady perfume of bluebells, and wake to the serenade of birdsong. These are the experiences that form our year and bring renewed vigour to our love of the forest. There is an irrepressible thrill, a deep connection with the life of these very special places, which wakes the soul and sets our pace into the coming year.

As the sun’s weak rays start to muster their strength and bring warmth to our forest home, the plants that surround us respond with generosity. The sap will rise in the birch, giving us a short-lived opportunity to enjoy this invigorating draft. The willow will loosen its bark, allowing us to harvest the fibres needed for cordage at this time of year, and many other plants will provide their fresh, young leaves, ready for salads: a welcome repast which speaks of the freshness of the season.

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The Perfect End to a Beautiful Season

This week marks the end of the UK course season at Woodlore.

Our first course this year, the Advanced Tracking that took place in April seems so long ago and so much has happened since then. We have run a wide variety of exciting Bushcraft courses throughout East Sussex and further afield, meeting and enjoying spending time with clients from all walks of life.

Woodlore courses

Woodloreans taking notes during the salmon lecture on the Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft course

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The Joy of Carving

The following post was written by Senior Assistant Mark Booton:

I am, if I’m being entirely honest, not a natural when it comes to carving. It is one of those Bushcraft skills which I need to work on. The fact that I find it challenging strengthens rather than diminishes my will to improve, and also heightens the enjoyment and satisfaction I feel when I carve something that I can be proud of.

I put down my knife and finish sanding my second Kuksa, a traditional wooden cup crafted by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia (my first attempt didn’t quite turn out as planned – my wife now very kindly refers to it as the ‘olive dish’!). I can remember the pride with which I took home my first carved spoon after attending the Fundamental Bushcraft course back in 2010. The fact that the spoon was not very good (misshapen and not symmetrical!) didn’t matter. I had toiled over it, sweated and bled (a little!), and eventually after several hours of sawing, carving and last-minute sanding produced something that, for all intents and purposes, resembled an eating implement… okay then, a spoon!

A traditional Swedish Kuksa cup

A Kuksa cup carved by Woodlore Senior Assistant Mark Booton

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