What is Bushcraft
Bushcraft is the use and practice of skills, acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding, in order to survive and thrive in the natural environment. Learning Bushcraft skills prepares you to be able provide for the basic physiological necessities for human life; food (by foraging, tracking, hunting, trapping and fishing), finding and purifying water, building a survival shelter, and lighting fires. These may be supplemented with expertise in making cordage (perhaps from nettles or tree roots), knots and lashings, wood-carving, campcraft, medicine/health, and natural navigation.
Learning bushcraft also gives you the expertise needed to handle certain tools such as bushcraft knives and axes. You can use these tools to create many different types of constructions, from birch bark canoe to an A-frame shelter. Through learning these basic primitive survival skills you get closer to nature, understanding more of how its resources can be used in a sustainable way.
The term bushcraft was made popular in the United Kingdom to a great extent by the popularity of Ray Mears and his bushcraft and survival television programmes. It is also becoming popular in urban areas where the average person is separated from nature, as a way to get back in tune with their rural roots. The origin of the phrase “bushcraft” comes from skills used in the bush country of Australia. Often the phrases “wilderness skills” or “woodcraft” are used as they describe skills used all over the world.
Bushcraft at Coed Obry
Tim holds the NCFE Level 2 Bushcraft-Survival-Wilderness Living Skills award. At Coed Obry I can teach you: safe cutting techniques; knife law; knife sharpening. We can carve mallets, tent pegs, walking sticks. We can also do shelter building; hammocks and tarps; fire lighting; water preparation; natural cordage; foraging; natural navigation; tree and bird identification (in all seasons). In late summer and autumn a good range of fungi can be found in the wood. My wife Debbie can teach you to make excellent Dream Catchers !
Typical Bushcraft Day Programme at Coed Obry
- Shelter building using natural materials and/or tarpaulins – hammocks
- Knife and axe safety, sharpening
- Fire wood preparation, fire lighting techniques & camp fire cooking (flat breads, pizza oven)
- Foraging: identifying and collecting edible parts of plants, berries, fruits or nuts in the wood and local area. Learning about plants, trees and their uses
- Lunch (cooked over a campfire)
- Wood carving: making a mallet; walking stick; tent peg and/or carve a spoon
- Water purification
- Natural cordage (making cord using roots or nettles)
Other things to see/visit in Coed Obry: 26 nest boxes; pond dipping; environmental education; tree house for star gazing or overnight bivouac; Bird hide
The tree house is where you can experience being in the tree canopy and even sleep the night. There is a bird hide which looks out of the wood across the valley with excellent views down the reclaimed estuary toward Porthmadog and Moel y Gest (the hill next to Porthmadog). There is a 20m long pond with an island which is ideal for spotting damselflies and dragonflies, and for pond dipping.
Foraging is searching for wild food resources. The foraging definition generally entails searching, identifying and collecting food resources in the wild. Those include a wide range of plants, mushrooms, herbs and fruits growing around us uncultivated.
Foraging for wild food has increased in popularity over the last few years, becoming a trendy activity for some and a complete lifestyle for others. However, gathering wild food is not new. Archaeologists have found human remains up to 500, 000 years old, hunters and gatherers came to Britain after the Last Ice Age finally ended around 10,500 BC and temperatures rose. Rising sea levels, caused by the melting ice, cut Britain off from continental Europe for the last time around 6500 BC. The warmer climate encouraged pine, birch, and alder forests to grow and humans came north initially in search of reindeer and wild horses, but later red deer, roe deer and wild boar while the wetland created by the warmer weather provided fish and wild birds. These food sources required different hunting tools which included barbs and tiny microliths for fixing onto harpoons and spears. This period is usually referred to as the Mesolithic and the term hunter-gather is often used to describe the human life-style. Analysis on the stomach contents of our hunter-gatherer ancestors reveals that they ate between 40-60 different types of food – far more than we eat today. They probably walked many miles per day to collect their food and gained health benefits from doing it.
For many of us, foraging has been part of our lives since childhood. Unfortunately, knowledge has been lost in a large part of our society. Over the past few years there has been a surge of interest to learn foraging skills for the health benefits it offers. Others want to understand were our food comes from or appreciate unique ingredients.
Nearly everyone has picked a blackberry from the bush or an apple from the tree to eat it. In fact, until recently, foraging was a normal part of life. Every household would use the ingredients growing locally, which were often growing wild. Then urban development changed our lifestyles and the interest in wild foods has slowly declined. Everything can be found in the supermarket nowadays, so most people don’t get the chance to learn how food is grown and where it comes from.
Recent scandals in the food industry have raised awareness for the environment and the carbon footprint. Many people are rediscovering the benefits of connecting with nature and the positive impact that foraging can have in our health.
The Woodland Trust offers an excellent guide to what you can forage in each month of the year
Coed Obry Foraging Photo Gallery
Bushcraft Photo Gallery
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What equipment do I need to bring for the bushcraft day ?
A: Suitable clothing for the prevailing weather conditions and sturdy footwear suitable for walking around a woodland, sometimes on uneven ground. We provide everything else you need: axes, saws, bill hooks, knives, safety gloves; lunch and all the cooking utensils; hammocks, tarpaulins, rope or paracord for shelter building.
Q: What if it’s raining, can the course still go ahead?
A: Much of the bushcraft course takes place under the shelter which you can see in some of the photos, so even if it rains we can still operate in a dry area next to the camp fire.
Q: Do you run overnight bushcraft courses ?
A: Yes, these can be arranged where you can build and sleep in a shelter or set up a hammock to sleep in overnight. In the event of very bad weather we have a tree house and bunkhouse too.