With the upcoming course season celebrating our 35th anniversary, the Woodlore field team assembled to share tales of adventures over the winter and maintain skills and knowledge in preparation for a very exciting year, with Ray leading a selection of time-honoured courses.
Senior Assistant Callum Hilder has started training for the Mountain Leader Award and shares his recent experience with us during a solo trip to the Cairngorm National Park:
Wilderness travel, exploration and its enjoyment are some of the principles that Woodlore was founded upon. Being a part of Woodlore has enabled me to begin making solo journeys and I have recently come back from five days in the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland, putting into practice many of the skills we teach and that I continue to learn.
The Woodlore team got the opportunity to hone some essential skills earlier this week as part of the field staff’s annual training. At the top of the list was a renewal of our essential 1st aid skills which will ensure that we are prepared for anything that the season can throw at us and more importantly, be better informed and able to prevent situations reaching the point where intervention is required.
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.
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.
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.
“With ice axes and crampons packed, Steve Corbyn and I landed near Inverness to meet Rob Bashford for a long weekend of winter walking, learning new skills and refreshing ourselves before the new course season at Woodlore. After buying our food and settling into our dorm at the Glenmore youth hostel we chatted about the coming activities and caught up over tea.
We were up early the next morning in order to meet Gary, our instructor for the day. We felt it important to ensure our skills were as fresh as possible and, after a brief from Gary and a chat about the day’s aims, we set off for Coire an Lochain with the following tasks in mind to focus on:
- Use of an ice axe for stability, cutting steps, fall arrest
- Assessing snow pack avalanche risk using a hasty pit
- Movement with and without crampons
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.
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.
Water is essential to life, beautiful and extremely hazardous; crossing water is one of the most dangerous undertakings in the outdoor world and the decision to do so must never be taken lightly. Inevitably though, there will come a time when the traveller is left with no choice and it is at these moments that prior experience and training become invaluable.
When training our students to make water crossings, we encourage them to use the acronym: WASPTAR – What type of water is it? Will it be cold? Are there other hazards? Is it feasible to attempt?
You’ve skied a full day, flattened out a platform, set up your camp and set off to find, fell, retrieve and process your firewood for the night. Sat in your warm tent drinking a brew, you look over your route for tomorrow, then tea and bed, waking when it’s your shift to stoke the stove.
Fitness enables mental alertness, the capability to make quick decisions, problem solving skills and the ability to cope with fatigue. Physical robustness isn’t just about being the fastest or strongest; it’s one of the keys to the backcountry. Being able to carry out demanding tasks with ease means you’re less likely to make a simple mistake which could have serious consequences for you and those in your charge. Continue reading