Bushcraft Diaries

At the end of June, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Education department, including Myplace, ventured into the deepest, darkest wilds of Derbyshire to hone their bushcraft skills. The annual two-day bushcraft course run by the Institute of Outdoor Learning gives LWT staff the chance to refresh and learn new bushcraft techniques that can then be built in to Myplace sessions. For Myplace Trainee Danielle, this was the first “work conference” she had ever been on – little did she expect it to involve thunder and lightning, bows and arrows and compostable toilets!

Day 1:

29 Trust staff members car-shared down to Springwood on one of the hottest days of the year, eager to start their bush craft adventure.  My first workshop of the day included a knots and lashes course, instructor Chris taught us how to tie a Sliphitch knot. The Sliphitch is a very versatile knot that allows you to string up a tarp in a variety of ways depending on the type of shelter needed.

My second workshop of the day was a medicinal herb walk led by Kev, a very experienced forager. Springwood is home to many common herbs and I look forward to teaching Myplace participants their  uses.  Interesting fact:  any plant name ending in “wort” means that plant was considered to have worth in the past, e.g. woundwort has worth because it helps heal wounds. Kev kindly provided us with a refreshing drink of meadowsweet cordial, meadowsweet aids digestion, is a mild pain reliever and is absolutely delicious!

My highlight of the first day was the campfire cooking session with instructor Katie.  It was the first time I had ever used a dutch oven and as a bonus, we used it to make cakes!  We split into teams with a different recipe each, I was Team Treacle Pudding, we had to bake our puddings using our dutch oven as a bain-marie.  Everyone’s puddings were delicious but the undisputed winner was the chocolate souffle.

Campfire fun and a wild sleepover in the woods:

After all our hard work and travel, the team relaxed in the evening for a campfire cookout of tasty veggie chilli.  Some of the group went for a post-dinner promenade to the local reservoir, Staunton Harold Reservoir, about half a mile from the campsite.  We arrived just in time to watch a gorgeous sunset over the water and even saw a bat emerge.

Finally, we settled into our tents, hammocks or natural shelters for a goodnight’s sleep and peaceful dreams – Mother Nature had other plans!  At 2am the storm clouds rolled in and unleashed thunder and lightning and torrential rain straight over the campsite.  I don’t think anyone got a wink of sleep!

Bushcraft course

Day 2:

My first workshop of the day had me crafting my own bow and arrow.  Another first for me, I had never used an axe before so it was a great experience to turn my birch stave into a bow.  I was shocked at how large the bows were and how much strength it took to draw the bow and shoot an arrow.  I’m certainly no Robin Hood!

My second workshop of the day was wool spinning.  Instructor Katie gave us a brief talk about working wool and drop spindles before having us create our own spindles.  I found using the carder brushes to separate the wool very meditative and mindful.  The calming feeling continued as I started to spin the wool although some people preferred to just play with the wool.