The Bushcraft perspective on the landscape
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.