Wildlife and Bushcraft Gallery

In my ‘Things I Intend On Doing’ (see post below) I said how I wanted to do more wildlife photography. Well, so far so good…

 

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Great Expectations

It’s Winter here. And with that comes many opportunities. So, instead of New Year’s Resolutions (and it’s a bit late for those now) what we thought is share with you the things we are looking forward to doing over the coming couple of months.
map and compass

PAUL – This year I would like to further develop my navigation skills and do some longer walks over open terrain. So far we have mainly concentrated on developing the core skills with navigation exercises around woodland, following a set route to easily identifiable points usually no more than a kilometre away at the most. This has been invaluable as a learning exercise but I would like to expand upon that.
badger sett

I would also like to improve my tracking ability, or rather, I would like to be able to better distinguish between different ‘signs’ I discover. I guess the ultimate goal of this is not only to better understand what has been there before, but to enable me to observe more wildlife. Top of that list would be to watch badgers as I have never seen a live badger in the wild.
snowy woods
Stephen – What I am looking to do over the coming year is build natural shelters, ones themed and associated with the time of year. Therefore, I’m hoping for a good flurry of snow so I can build a quinze. A quinze is a shelter made from compacted snow and then hollowed out.

Over the last year I’ve found myself getting more and more interested in nature photography, so getting some decent wildlife shots is also an aim.

Foraging is also is a perennial interest, and Winter is a good time for coastal foraging, but as the season comes to an end and Spring starts then early greens start coming out so I’d like to see what I can find and maybe start a database of what is available, and where, locally. This is also the time of year to hone one’s tree identification – without leaves it’s a chance to see what you know and what you don’t.
sweet chestnut

Light Weight Bushcraft Day Kit

For Christmas I got a Warrior Assault Grab Bag.
I am so chuffed with it I thought I’d put together a review. But rather than just a review on its own I thought I’d also show you some of the light weight kit I use. For a simple day out in the woods the bag is perfect. If I want to take more stuff (e.g. a hammock, or a wood burning stove, ect) then I would be inclined to take a larger back pack. There’s more room left in Warrior Assault Grab Bag but if I carry on loading it up all I’ll do is add to the weight, which both defeats the object of the bag but will also make it uncomfortable to carry on one shoulder. Better to go with a larger back pack.
Anyway, here’s the video…

Bannock Burning

Today we had a wet day out.

Paul, Paul’s son Zac, and myself headed out to the woods. It rained all day, which didn’t turn out to be such a problem after all. The wet does bring problems but it also brings with it fun in its own way.

We wanted to use the day to brush up on navigation skills, as well as an experiment for cooking bannock.

We showed Zac how to use a compass and briefly went over how to plot a course and measure your distance. The rain meant I probably went over it all more quickly than I’d have liked, but we showed him how to follow a bearing on the compass and got him to lead our way through 800m of close woodland. He brought us out exactly where we wanted to be so good for him for learning a useful skill! I’m sure his dad (Paul) can revisit how to plot a route and how to count the distance.

Then we made camp. Paul and Zac were in hammocks and I set up my tarp in a ‘Baker tent’ style.

So, the bannock. I’m sure I am not the first to come up with this idea, but I wanted to see if I could use two aluminium frying pans as a kind of Dutch oven. I am very pleased to say it worked very well indeed. Here’s the set up:

This meant micro-managing two small fires. But it all came out very well. We cooked a cheese and onion bannock made with wholemeal flour and we found that baking the bannock, with the heat all round, meant the dough rose really well resulting in a light (and tasty!) bread. Carrying two pans didn’t prove that onerous – they are light and sit inside each other: infinitely preferable to humping a Dutch oven! I’m afraid I didn’t get to take pictures of the final bannock, since we were all hungry and ate it! You’ll just have to take my word for how well it came out.

Zac also made himself a Dutch arrow.

It was a right proper wet day but I don’t think any of us minded in the slightest. You can only get so wet and then it stops being a problem.

Here’s a couple more pictures.

 

A Day Out In The Woods

Quite often when we go out we like to practice skills or make use of our time.

Sometimes, however, it’s just nice to do nothing and enjoy one’s time in the woods…

Chestnutting

It’s been a bad year for all sorts of fruit and veg due to the heavy and persistent rain earlier in the year. Even chestnuts have suffered, with very few ripening. But yesterday the two of us went to a local country park to go chestnutting, and took Paul’s two kids with us. This is our day out…

The Greensand Way

The Greensand way is a route that goes from Haslemere (Surrey) all the way to Ham Street, just outside Ashford. In total it is 108 miles long. It is named after the sandstone rocks that form along the North Downs.

The Greensand Way lies no more than a mile or two from where I live and I often find myself walking along it when going from one place to another. However, I decided that I wanted to walk the route just for the sake of walking it. Doing all 108 miles might be a bit ambitious, so I chose a modest 4 ½ miles stretch from Hunton hill to Boughton Monchelsea.

                My start point was Hunton hill (using OS Explorer 148 you can find it at TQ730507). Rising up from the lane were a set of signposted steps…

                This section of the Greensand Way runs long the edge of orchards. It offers great views to south, looking out across the Weald.

                After a short while the path comes to a junction, with a yellow way-marker showing the Greensand Way goes straight on. But it’s not immediately obvious which way is straight on!

                However, a quick look at the map shows that one needs to follow the right hand path.

                Since I was doing the walk in late summer/early autumn (the last day of September to be precise) meant that some wild foods were on the way out whilst others were just coming into season. There were blackberries for those who like things sweet, and damsons for those who prefer things sour…

                As well as some rose hips…

                And plenty of haws…

                I also saw many butterflies, especially red admirals and cabbage whites. Most of them fluttered off before I could get my camera out, but one obliging comma butterfly gave me the chance to get a snap…

                The route carried on along the edge of the fields. I saw one or two other walkers – some taking the dog for a walk but others also purposefully out to walk the Greensand Way.

                The route takes you across a couple of roads, but one of them has a bridge over the road…

                The route then comes out at the village of Linton where it continues behind the back of the church.

                At this point the Greensand way leads you through parkland belonging to Linton Place. This means you have the chance to see some fantastic trees, some really good specimens.

               

              The next point of interest is Boughton Monchelsea church, which is thought to have the oldest surviving lytch gate in the UK.

                The field above Boughton Monchelsea Place would be my lunchtime stop point. I have used this particular spot many times and had it in mind when I set out. I had some ham and mustard rolls, a few Quality Street choccies and an apple I’d scrumped earlier!

                Since I was only carrying a shoulder bag I wanted to travel small and light, so my brew kit consisted of a Crusader mug with lid, a meths stove made from a Vaseline pot, and an East German hexi-stove (the East German ones are better because they are made of brass and don’t rust. The NATO ones corrode after just one or two burns.

                I was now near the end of my route. I carried along the Greensand Way, through the parkland of Boughton Monchelsea Place.

                Passing through a gate I now turned off the Greensand Way and made for the pub – the Cock at Boughton, where I had a pint (a Shep’s special – ‘Oast Dodger’) and pack of nuts.

                From here it was a mile and half walk home – but it was through suburbia and is not worth recording.

                I covered six miles in total. The Greensand Way is one of three walks in Kent I have been meaning to do (the Pilgrim’s Way and North Downs Way being the others). Weaving its way through the south east there is a good chance you may live near a section of it if you are also in the south east. It is a relatively new walk, having been plotted and laid down in the early 1980’s. But what it may lack in history it more than makes up for with the views and peace it brings.

Lake shore meandering.

Last weekend I had a fantastic time out at a favourite spot of mine. My plan was just to hang out in the hammock and do naff all. I managed to read the whole of Henry V, the first couple of chapters of Moby Dick and spent several unsuccessful hours (again) hobo fishing. It really was a cracking time in a beautiful place and reminded me of the mantra “Time is never really wasted, just spent on other needs”.

Below are some pictures I thought I’d share.

Home sweet home

 

A small star type fire-lay was perfect

A view of the quick and easy fly camp I use

 

Woodland navigation – Compass and pace beads

A little follow up film to the one Steve made of me trekking around the place doing a spot of map reading – the tables turn.

Nimblewill Nomad Camping Stove

I’ve been asked by one or two people about the Nimblewill Nomad stove. It’s a homemade alternative to the Honey Stove (not sure which came out first – I discovered the Nimblewill stove about three years ago, before I had heard of the Honey Stove).

So I thought I’d make a video about it so you can see it in action and decide for yourself if it’s something you’d like to have a go at making (and why wouldn’t you!?).

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