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My husband bought this for me as a gift for my birthday. The group included around 15 people, mixed ages, from 25 - 70 all with varying experience of Bushcraft from the newbie city dweller, to the scoutmaster, the birdwatcher, and the fungus enthusiast. My experience was rusty and the day was certainly a relearn and new learn for me, and who better to learn from than Ray Mears! It was so nice to see I was not the only female as there were two other women on the day too.
Some highlights of the day included an experiential mapping exercise, navigation by nature instruction (not just the sun/moss - bring compass so you can check), Tree, Fungus, useful plant/nut, moss identification, Firemaking (leave no trace ), camp setups/where not to camp/camp kit. We got to see a deer, and Ray showed us his amazing tracking skills (Ray is truly the master at this). You can see he has so much wisdom, and the utmost respect for the natural world.
If I could improve the day it would be that there was a beginners walk or intermediate/Expert walk. Purely for the fact I think for the newbie simple knowledge like toileting in woods, taking a waterproof jacket, walking boots etc could be assumed. However, I thought I would include my top 10 tips for newbies below which hopefully you will find helpful.
TIPS for newbies:
1) No deodorant, aftershave or perfume, so that the wildlife and Ray ( who struggled all day with our smelly group) dont run a mile. Soap and water only. For a few days before if possible. 2) Wear natural colours to be closer to wildlife 3) Use all of your senses to experience the day at its best. Listen, smell, touch and Look upwards and outwards! 4)If you have some - take some binoculars - you never know what wildlife you might see. 5) Take a waterproof jacket and wear walking boots. Oh and enough water for a day , more when hot (I took 2 small 50cl bottles, and a flask of ginger tea, but only got through the flask and 1 bottle) 6) Take a little compass ( for checking your navigation) and Whistle (I also took a small pocket medkit but am sure Ray or Keith had one in their pack) 7) For the foraging newbie like me Take bags/ pencil if you wish to collect samples to match to your books at home! 8) Don't be afraid to get a bit dirty - the woods have their own natural resources including soap if you know where to look. 9) Ask questions (I wish I had written some down beforehand!) 10) Appreciate, respect and enjoy the beautiful environment and wildlife around us in the UK. Learn from Ray, listen well, and dont just leave it there.
Get out there people - find a woods near you!
Hannah M Garland