Woodlore — School of Wilderness Bushcraft  

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Fundamental Bushcraft with Ray Mears

The Initiation

An inspirational journey through the fundamental skills of bushcraft, this course provides a broad and solid foundation of practical skill and knowledge upon which you can build and develop. It is an ideal place to begin your journey with Woodlore and is a challenging and immensely rewarding week regardless of previous experience.

Each skill has been hand picked and included in our syllabus based on its value and practicality for wilderness travel. Ray Mears will expertly explain, demonstrate and guide you through a week of intense learning designed to prepare, challenge and inspire in equal measure.


Further Information

Open your eyes and step into the incredible possibilities of the natural world through the art of Bushcraft: your key to experiencing your time in the outdoors in a more fulfilling and practical way. The Fundamental Bushcraft course will change the way that you look at the world forever and equip you with a firm foundation of practical skills to use in the farthest corners of the world or on your own front doorstep.

Our syllabus has been honed over many years to introduce the widest range of skills and your days will be filled with hard work, discovery and the satisfaction of achievement and learning. Each skill is carefully explained and expertly demonstrated before you practice the technique for yourself. As new skills are acquired, you will be encouraged to apply them as we build upon what you have learned, increasing both the pace and level of challenge. The end result is self- reliance, closeness to nature and improved self-confidence in the outdoors. If you are interested in attending a shorter 2-day course please take a look at the Introduction to Bushcraft courses.

By the end of the week, a tight knit group will have been formed and lasting friendships forged by the warmth of the campfire. The final day provides a buzz of excitement as you are all given the opportunity to demonstrate your new skills and understanding in a test that is the gateway to the Journeyman course.

Challenging, thrilling and satisfying in equal measure, the Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft course is conducted entirely outdoors in a friendly campfire atmosphere and will go ahead in all weather. No previous experience is necessary, but a reasonable level of fitness is required.

The skills that will be taught during this course include:

  • Firelighting, including by friction
  • Shelter Construction
  • Water Collection & Purification
  • Plants for food & medicine
  • Natural Cordage
  • Hunting & Trapping
  • Wilderness Fishing Techniques
  • Safe use of Cutting Tools
  • Looking after the land and leaving no trace
  • Backcountry Hygiene
  • Outdoor Safety
  • Natural Navigation

This course starts at 17:30 on Sunday and will finish at 16:00 on Saturday.

Catering

All meals for this course will be provided. You will not live from the land during this course although one meal will be of wild food. For the rest of the time normal meals will be provided, allowing each student the opportunity to do some backcountry cooking, therefore if you have special dietary requirements please let us know on your consent form or contact the office.

Course Site

The Fundamental Bushcraft course will take place at an expedition style camp in East Sussex, close to Tunbridge Wells. The camp is situated in beautiful private woodland with no public access with lots of wildlife including deer, owls, badgers, fox and butterflies. We do not have shower/toilet blocks at our sites, therefore all aspects of the course will have a fantastic wilderness feel, using a screened camp shower and a screened latrine in the woods.

We have a car park at the course site where you your car will be kept during the course (if you bring one).

Other Details

Joining instructions will be sent to participants of the course 9 weeks before it is due to start, giving details of where to meet, at what time, and what to bring with you.

Once you have passed the Fundamental Bushcraft course you are able to attend the Journeyman course.





Course Dates

  This course is coming soon. If you want to be informed when this course is allocated a starting date, please sign up for course notifications below.



Course Reviews

Fundamental Bushcraft with Ray Mears is rated 5/5 based on 9 customer reviews.

All of our reviews are from people who have attended our courses.

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  1 of 9

  It was an amazing week with Ray, Wayne and James. The course was better than I could have imagined. The amount we learnt was quite incredible and the (very) hard work now is going to be remembering what we learnt and putting it into practice!  

 

Rated: 5/5

  2 of 9

  If our time on earth is valuable and means anything at all, then this week with Ray and the team was a brilliant way to spend it. I have come away enriched with new knowledge and experience, seen the natural world in a deeper and more significant way. The week equipped me not just for enjoying the outdoors, but also for managing my everyday life. Wayne and James were also great people to have around and guide us through the territory and the many tasks. Everyone should do such a course if they genuinely care about the natural ecology. I also made some good pals on the course which was a bonus. It was a real privilege to spend the week with Ray, his skills, stories, generosity and encyclopedic knowledge are an asset and of enormous value to all of us. Thank you.  

 

Rated: 5/5

  3 of 9

  This is quite a remarkable course for many reasons. Ray has an encyclopedic knowledge of the subjects and teaches in an informal and easy to understand way with both humour and passion. He is ceaselessly patient and approachable. I can honestly say I have never met a teacher like him. The course is a comprehensive introduction to a complex subject taught fully within a forest with no access to modern tech and an emphasis on the practical. It succeeds in a way that class room based courses could only dream of. It helps individuals engage with experiences that they would never consider but in a way that seems entirely within their capability. It is a course that does push you but then that is how bushcraft should be practiced. The skills that we obtained by the end were practiced without thinking and I can honestly say that we came out of it different people. This is an experience like no other and I cannot recommend it enough.  

 

Rated: 5/5

  4 of 9

  Please pass on my thanks to Callum, Wayne and Ray for last week's Fundamentals course. Whilst very intense I really enjoyed it. The tuition from all the instructors was exceptional, and their willingness to give one to one help, including from Ray, was fantastic. I had been wanting to learn bow drill for 20 years so to achieve it with personal guidance from both Ray and Callum was a lifetime achievement and memory. Please can you also thank them all for their efforts, it is really appreciated. Over past 12mths I have attended 4 courses, all have been brilliant and I am looking forward to attending many more.  

 

Rated: 5/5

  5 of 9

  In summary: This course was fantastic and the sort of experience that is very rare now. We learnt a huge number of skills, but more than that, it was a chance to learn another way of thinking and being. We could finally take the time to really focus on a task, and methodically work through challenges, whilst taking the time to savour success. In normal life, we are constantly bombarded with distractions and competing priorities, so it was a relief to be able to step away from that for a week. I'm finding that mentality a great help going forwards in our chaotic world! I am very much looking forward to honing my skills, using them on my expeds, and am excited to attempt the Journeyman's course in the future. Truly an inspirational and immensely satisfying week- I feel so many potential experiences have now been unlocked for me! Some more detailed points: Pre-course admin was great with a comprehensive kit list. Hopefully this won't be relevant for much longer, but it was conducted in a very Covid-secure manner, with hygiene a top priority. I really appreciated the lessons taught by Ray. There really is no one else with his experience, authority and level of expertise so it was well worth it in my eyes to attend a course taught by him. His wife Ruth was also a star, giving us women some great extra tips, as well as her perspective from her extensive experience. Having said that, the assistant instructors were very diligent and patient, and clearly also very proficient. Top class teaching. The course was challenging, as being outdoors always is. This was not a leisurely camping trip but nor was it a thrashing. There was always another task to accomplish, but we were given plenty of time to proceed at our own pace. I would say that if you are looking for something super relaxing, or indeed super arduous, this may not be for you. If you are buying this as a present- check that the recipient is up for it first! The syllabus was extensive, with lessons on carving, crafts, fishing, snaring, identifying plants, shelter building, good kit recommendations, cooking, finding water, knots, and fire starting. By the end you really had a good breadth of basic skills. If I had one quibble it would be that I think I would have preferred that once a skill had been demonstrated, that we all sat in a circle to make our first attempt, whilst the instructors circulated to correct errors. I think the (probably Covid-induced) method of us going away to practice alone or together meant that a bit of time was wasted unknowingly repeating basic errors. However the instructors were very generous with their time and patiently talked through each skill when I asked them to individually. The food we were provided with was great- I won't spoil it but don't worry, you get more than hard tack and gruel! The other participants were a great bunch, very friendly, team-orientated, and good-humoured! They all had varied backgrounds, and it was great to learn from them.  

 

Rated: 5/5

  6 of 9

  This course is extraordinary! The instructors including Ray are patient and attentive with as much contact time as you ask for. If you’re struggling with any of the enormous syllabus covered they are always available for a one to one. The rations are excellent and an education in themselves in terms of what to take on bivouac. I don’t want to say much more as it would spoil some of the surprise, suffice to say they will not disappoint. My only criticism would be that so much is covered it is difficult to find time to consolidate before moving onto the next subject but I’m choosing to view that as my activities over the next months! Be prepared for highs, lows, frustration and elation but a truly memorable and emotional week for me. Thanks to all the instructors for an amazing week - this is an experience I won’t forget and your love of nature and bushcraft really does shine through.  

 

Rated: 5/5

  7 of 9

  Perhaps the first question anyone reading this would be: is it worth the extra money to be taught by Ray? If you want to be taught by and pick the brains of an accomplished Woodsman who does not rest on his laurels; teachings by experienced instructors of humility and a natural ebullience for bushcraft; to push yourself out of your comfort zone and create a new more comfortable comfort zone; to spend six nights in a fine ancient woodland with like-minded people from all walks of life; to learn the rudiments of Bushcraft on the hoof, you will love this course. The course was redesigned this year due an illness that has been going around. You may have heard about it? We were informed of a much tougher course this year. There were certain things omitted and many things added, and the teaching was spread over three groups of four people, whereas in previous incarnations I believe it had been just the one group. This change reduced the teaching time per group since the lessons had to be repeated three times and staggered over the same six-day time period. There were gaps in schedules, this flexibility was vital to the success of course. I was expecting only one instructor, namely Mr. Mears, (since I was told by a friend a Scout Covid Risk Assessment allows for a bubble of up to 15). We had 4 instructors including Ray, which offset the teacher to student ratio favourably. The course actually morphed into the 'survival' end of bushcraft, since we were provided with our own personal food and water instead of the normal communal eat. There was no recourse for showering contrary to what was stated in the course information and 'downtime' was reduced to our own groups. A lot of the course, at first appeared to be conducted ad hoc. We were left wondering what next? However, there was a method in the madness and the modules tied together fairly well in the end. Some demonstrative teachings lost their potency due to distancing making certain things harder to learn. On the final afternoon our group had 3 lessons in succession, this was particularly stressful for some of us. Learning while tired and out in the bush is requisite for our development and these things just have to be overcome, however I was barely coherent, this just compounded the stress further. It was emphasised that it is all 'part and parcel' of survival in the bush. You agree and just get on with it! Since the course, my times out in the wilderness have been better prepared and the acquired skills have served me very well. Ray's teaching is thorough and always on point. The course redeemed itself for me through the magic of Ray. Ray is saturated with knowledge, approachable and generous with his knowledge at whatever scale. So to go full circle, my answer to the first question is a resounding "Yes!"  

 

Rated: 4/5

  8 of 9

  Good Afternoon to The Woodlore Team and Ray, I have spent almost a couple of weeks now reflecting on my recent course with you. I have wanted to let the experience settle in my mind and give my thoughts time to formulate before I responded as this has been an important milestone in my own personal development and as such has a reasonable level of importance for me. Firstly, may I say thank you and well done for all your efforts to provide the course under what I know have been challenging circumstances and which I could see required a high level of additional effort from all of you to be able to deliver it. It was much appreciated, you did a brilliant job with all the elements of admin, organisation, and physical care before and during the course. Your standards are exemplary and I felt I couldn't have been in better hands. Which for me is a really important aspect to attending a course like this. I started my journey with Woodlore in 2017 with an introduction course and then my first fundamental course. Prior to this experience I had never even slept outdoors before, in any capacity, never tied knots, cooked outdoors, never held a knife to do 'jobs' with, and certainly not to attempt anything meaningful with, I had never made a fire, or in fact experienced any outdoor or wild living, my upbringing and life up to date never allowed or afforded me any possibility of these things. But I really want to, I want to learn and be able to use the skills. My aim on attending the course was to learn outdoor, wild living and survival skills. With fresh eyes and with no prior knowledge or experience I felt it was vital that I get the highest level of training first time around so I can lay a solid, firm foundation of skills that won't lead to bad habits I would have to unlearn later. This last course with you Ray has been enlightening. It challenged the very core of what I felt about myself, what I may be capable of, what I can yet do, yet become. The talks we had Ray, the thoughts you shared with me and the guidance and support you imparted have illuminated my vision of myself and I thank you for taking the care and concern to give of yourself, it mattered and it is valued. All the team worked so hard and gave so much, it was clear to me that all of you extended yourselves over and above to ensure the course was a success. You did it. Thank you to you all. I appreciate that I am not a 'model bush-craft student' and I struggled in some cases and in many things - sorry about the book ! However, I have heard it said about many things that it is not often natural ability that leads to success, but yet instead the tenacity, persistence and perseverance that makes it through in the end..... I will see you again I'm sure. Kind Regards Ali Pickett  

 

Rated: 5/5

  9 of 9

  To say I enjoyed it is an understatement, I absolutely loved every minute of it. Even at 4am while I was feeling a little chilly in my leaf litter shelter in the woods! The course was an amazing experience, I was constantly challenged and feel I have learnt some amazing skills making me so much more confident in the outdoors. I would like to thank you for all your help leading up to the course, and please pass on my heartfelt respect and thanks to David, Steve, Wayne and of course Ray for their undivided attention throughout the week. Every single lesson was delivered so professionally and in an enjoyable way that made the learning challenging and fun. They were fantastic, and I felt they handled the social distancing elements of the course incredibly well. I know it was a first for them, and as much of a learning experience in delivering the course in a different way to how they have in the past. It was a very effective way of helping us to all learn to rely on ourselves in the wilderness. It is a shame that we never all got to sit round a campfire in one big social group, but that did not take away from my experience of the course at all. Receiving my certificate in the post yesterday was a very exciting moment. I fully intend to follow this up with the Journeyman course at some point in the future. Once again, thank so much to all at Woodlore, it is a fantastic company and I wish you all the very best in the future.  

 

Rated: 5/5


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