bushcraft in north york moors national park north yorkshire bushcrsft in dalby forest north yorkshire FC+England+Logo+Stacked Facebook square white small Twitter circle white small Camera white small trip_advisor-128

Bushcraft Blog

Welcome to my blog

 

Here you can add some text to explain what your blog is about and a bit about you.

By Andrew Armstrong, Feb 22 2018 03:08PM

The end of February/March, in our local climate, is rated as the hardest time of year for survival. I can’t remember, where I read this, but I would agree. If the climate was similar to now, (and there are variations in the 8 thousand years of Mesolithic/Neolithic climates), as a student of Bushcraft, I can see why. A little imagination can go a long way here. The easy to access game will have been caught, and the remaining games will be depleted in character. The preserved fruits, foraged the year before, will be coming to their end. In addition, your own physical and mental reserves will have been drained by the long winter months. As a student of bushcraft, I find the study of our ancestors lives fascinating. Living in Pickering, the Star Carr archaeology site is just down the Scarborough road. It’s the Stone Henge of Yorkshire, a truly fascinating find, but not much to look at now. However, the finds are amazing and the light it shines on the early inhabitants of North Yorkshire is amazing.

On Sundays foraging walk, we found many interesting resources. Through most of the winter Gorse has been in flower. And recently the flower’s have been available in abundance. On Sunday we found a huge crop, nice and fresh. The flowers taste like raw pea’s and can be used in several ways, from adding to stews to brewing beer! There was also an abundance of wood sorrel. A tasty treat, that is much improved nutritionally by cooking. We also found abundant Roe deer sign. We never saw any directly, but I would guess they saw us. However, in our defence, we were not stalking! There was plenty of wood pigeon sign around too and even a predator scat, probably a fox. So, with a little prep and some luck, we might have survived a few more days! Makes you realise how fortunate we are not to have to really worry about the basics of survival. It always gives a sense of awe at the achievements of our ancient ancestors, how they thrived. They where the true local kings of bushcraft!


roe deer scat
roe deer scat
Gorse flower
Gorse flower
wood sorrel
wood sorrel

By Andrew Armstrong, Feb 9 2018 03:03PM

It might sound like a simple question to answer. However, here at Trailblazer Wildcraft it is a subject that still causes much debate. The term is covered, in a historic sense, in this Wikipedia article. It’s both interesting and insightful, putting the origins in the 1800’s Australian outback travel skills. I use my words here carefully, as it is interesting to note that the articles opening line describes it as being used to describe “wilderness survival skills”. This is something, at least a Trailblazer Wildcraft, we would tend disagree with. And here lies one of our key definitions of the word. We say its fundamentally different from survival, (although the skills are very transferable into survival). In survival, you are literally fighting for your life; in other words your life is in danger and you have arrived at this by ill fortune and personal tragedy, (a plane crash or getting lost in the Canadian wilderness). Bushcraft is practiced because you are in the environment or situation by choice. In our definition, you are not in immediate danger and have arrived at your destination on purpose, intending to be at the location and living in harmony with your surroundings. And here is another key difference. In survival we may destroy and remove resources that in a bushcraft scenario, we would not, (e.g. in order to protect the local nature from harmful damage).


To us, the kings of bushcraft where our ancient ancestors. While they probably faced more wilderness survival scenarios, they did not survive as a rule, they thrived. The more we understand about them, the more we realise this. The Star Carr archaeological site, close to the Trailblazer Wildcraft site and near the North York Moors National park, has shed light on this, unearthing some complex and well used sites from our Mesolithic ancestors. So while their bushcraft would have aided in surviving getting lost or displaced from the group, it was this same craft that allowed them to thrive and understand the bounty on offer to them, with only their shared knowledge to unlock its fruits.


The debate on its meaning will go on, but the word bushcraft is here to stay.

By Andrew Armstrong, Feb 3 2018 04:50PM

One of the best things about learning bushcraft is the change it has given my perspective on the landscape. I have always been an avid walker and outdoors fan in general, wild camping and finding remote places to explore. However, learning plants and their uses, animals and their sign, opens the mind to the landscape in new ways. It’s a change that once started, you can’t stop, (not that you would want to). I was walking in the North York moors National Park last weekend. It was a dull and drizzly day and I was walking through largely flat plantation blocks, (on a patrol for the local North York Moors ranger service). This may have led to a relatively boring walk, (though no outdoors time is bad in my experience, just some is better than others). However, I was totally engaged by the resources and sign that I was finding.

There is still a rich amount of resources to collect, from tinder mushrooms to wild edibles. I found a patch of fresh flowering gorse, which provided a great little snack, (and would have provided the starts of a winter stew). There were the numerous carcases of last years plants to identify and file away in the minds foraging map for this year’s growing season. Then there was the obvious stuff, like the plantation tress, the varieties of needle for shelter and tea and the trees baring scars that had bled the wonderfully useful resin.

There was some wonderful deer sign, all around the area. This let me glimpse into the local populations movement, (and species, both roe and red being present). It was great to run through the possible foraging routes they chose, the resources and locations they where choosing to access and why. I also found a wood pigeon carcass. It was less than 12 hours old and clearly a small bird of prey kill. Further along I found more, older, kill sign in the form of feather groups. So, what ever was hunting, had been doing so for some time in that area.

I could go on, but I hope you get the idea! Bushcraft opens up a landscape in such wonderful ways. It engages us again with the landscape, in ways our ancient ancestors would recognise and cherish. So not only does it allow you to find a deeper attachment with nature, it also allows you to connect with your own nature. Wonderful stuff.


Red deer track
Red deer track
kill site
kill site
tinder mushroom
tinder mushroom

By Andrew Armstrong, Dec 11 2017 12:06PM

Bushcraft is a year round skill set. Each season has its own challenges and knowledge base, a new lens to view your skills through. Winter is one such time, often misunderstood, but still undoubtedly the most demanding of the seasons. That said, its one of my favorites, each time it snows, or there’s a hard frost, it gives me the desire to go camping in the woods and mountains.


The test of the skills, bushcraft, mountain craft, are no more in effect than in these times. The rewards are also the greatest, the views of the wilds transformed by the changing of our liquid water to hard ice and soft snow.


The crackle of a warm fire, prepared and harvested form the wild is so rewarding and more welcome than at any other time of year. The ability to move and exist safely in the more extreme temperatures is a great experience and the knowledge base takes many years to build and appreciate. The UK has a harder winter than many who live here appreciate, as our temperatures hang just above freezing, allowing for high humidity and lots of liquid water to pull the warmth right out of you. We have had both Canadian’s and Norwegian’s in the shop, complaining about the cold, having just left minus 20 Celsius. It’s the damp that gets them. So never underestimate our climate, it has more challenges than you might think. Give me minus five over plus five any day!


We have had a number of warm, damp winters recently, but this one, so far, is shaping up to be a cold one, I just hope I get the chance to test those hard fought winter bushcraft skills!

By Andrew Armstrong, Aug 8 2016 11:51AM

In our relatively short time on the planet, we have spent most of it in what might be called a tribal existence. In a sense, modern communities still have a tribal structure and our close social groups are estimated to still remain around the 40 mark. This said, the essence of any community is made from families, the basic building block of society. Our hunter gather ancestors would have started their apprenticeship young, learning the basic aspects of wilderness living, the foundation blocks to allow them to learn the advanced techniques of adulthood. Even today, children are taught a huge amount by their parents and immediate family, something that can often be underestimated.


Family Bushcraft is a chance for that most fundamental unit to come together and learn and practice new skills. It can be a great way for families to connect and share with each other.


We have lived in nature for millennia, only recently isolating ourselves from that most important wild space. Seeing children and adults re-connect and thrive in our once home is one of the most rewarding experiences as a bushcraft instructor. It is also a rewarding experience for the families, giving them at the least a great family memory and at the most a reconnection with each other and their founding environment.