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Level: Intermediate to advanced (previous bushcraft experience required)
These courses help you hone and develop the skills for surviving in lowland Britain throughout the year. The courses are designed for those who have attended at least one general bushcraft course (e.g. Basic Skills day, Bushcraft Weekend, Foundation Course) or an equivalent course elsewhere. After covering the basic bushcraft techniques on a general course many people want to practice their newly developed skills at other times of the year. Indeed the bushcraft priorities and resources change dramatically throughout the year.
The Four Seasons courses provide one weekend in each season during which you can consolidate existing skills, learn new, more advanced skills, and focus on the seasonal differences. You will see the change in plant resources, be able to identify trees throughout the year, look at ways of gathering, preparing and storing seasonal harvests. You will look at the weather and its effects on shelter-building, firelighting and water collection. There will be a chance to try different bushcraft techniques that are relevant to the season.
Price: Any of the Four Seasons weekends - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, can be purchased separately at £150 each - you are not committed to booking any other seasons. However, on booking your fourth season you are entitled to attend at half price - only £75 for that season - that makes the whole Four Seasons course only £525 - great value for 8 full days of advanced teaching and practice!
Duration: Each seasonal weekend is 2 full days starting at 19.00
on Friday evening and ending at 16:00 on Sunday afternoon.
"Excellent as always. Never fail to learn something new"
"Leon was clear, organised and systematic in his teaching, while also being creative, flexible and accomodating in dealing with questions. We covered an enormous amount during a short space of time, yet things never felt rushed. We had great success and gained much new knowledge foraging for, preparing and cooking, wild foods; sourcing and purifying water; shelter building; and making and transporting fire. I entered the woods with a degree of trepidation and low confidence in my ability to adapt to, and live in, a natural environment. I left feeling elated and with a strong core belief that I can thrive in, and fully experience, wild places. I also enjoyed the quiet comradeship, trust and good humour that Leon fostered during the course. An unexpected pleasure was the discovery of the delicious flavours and interesting textures of the wild foods we found and learning preparation and camp fire cooking techniques. The weekend was suffused with a sense of well-being and I felt a deep sense of connecting with the inherent spirituality of nature, and feeling comfortable and competent. The sunny and mild autumnal weather and colourful beauty of the woods helped!" - P. Law
In spring it is a particular pleasure to be out in the woods with the flowers in bloom and new leaves unfurling. It is also a welcome relief after the relative hardships of winter. Spring is the time for gathering sweet young roots and fresh leaves for salads and teas. The sap is rising and it is the time for tapping birch trees - a source of sugary water and syrup. The rising sap also makes it much easier to harvest inner bark for making cord and also for collecting bark for making containers. We will also teach firelighting using only natural rocks (flint and iron pyrites) and tinders.
Summer is the time for long, hot days and the growth of plants. Our priorities for shelter change and we may well be looking for shade. We can also get by with much simpler shelters, with a thinner thatch than in winter. In dry conditions our ability to find water is put to the test and you will look at a range of methods to deal with such conditions. Summer is also an important time for gathering and preserving seasonal plant foods. For example making dried meat (jerky) over the fire.
As the leaves change colour and begin to fall, and nuts and late fruits mature, there is a last harvest to be gathered before winter. It is also the best time to collect edible fungi. You will look at ways of preparing otherwise unpalatable nuts such as acorns and storing over winter. The weather is generally cooler and wetter and this provides a good opportunity to test our wet weather firelighting techniques and shelter building. You will also look at ways of making cord in the autumn with different kinds of fibres.
Winter is the toughest season for survival. It is also a rewarding and invigorating time to be in the woods, testing your skills. The frost, snow and rain will certainly test your shelter-building and firelighting. You will learn about risks of cold injuries, and keeping warm and dry during the winter nights with shelters and long log fires. Without leaves on the trees you also have the opportunity to familiarise yourself with different tree colours and buds. Some roots and other foods are still available but generally it is a leaner time when you have to rely on stored food, fishing and hunting. You will learn about game preparation and about methods of trapping for real survival situations. If conditions should happen to be sufficiently snowy we can also build snow shelters.