Woodlore — School of Wilderness Bushcraft  


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.


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.

Dates, Costs and Bookings

Please select a course date from the list shown below to see costs, locations and course sizes. Please ensure that you read our Terms & Conditions prior to booking your place.

  2023 Dates - Fundamental Bushcraft with Ray Mears

- (5 places) • £1695.00
- (7 places) • £1695.00

Course Reviews

Fundamental Bushcraft with Ray Mears is rated 5/5 based on 14 customer reviews.

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

Overall Rating:


  1 of 14

  The course was everything one could hope for. Ray was a fountain of knowledge and happy to share all any of his skills. Wayne and James were also extremely skilled and approachable. The course had a great friendly atmosphere and you never felt there were questions you couldn't ask. The support on the application of skills was great and much of the learning was through discussion and exploration. I can not recommend this course enough.  


Rated: 5/5

  2 of 14

  A month on it is finally time to reflect and write a review for this course. The experience exceeded all expectations, there are blogs and reviews of previous courses but none clearly articulate the experience of being on an intensive week away with someone with the breadth and depth of experience Ray brings to this subject area. I would imagine every course has a set structure but quickly evolves depending on the group, weather and experience of participants. The key to getting the most out of the course is to go in with an open mind and a can-do attitude. It is tough with long days and detailed instruction from Ray and his team, be prepared to be mentally and physically tired but have the mindset of I can and you will draw so much from the course. There was a range of experience on my course and people from all walks of life and backgrounds, it was a pleasure to meet them all, share in their experiences and support each other in this journey. Regardless of experience walking away from this course you feel like you are only at the beginning with Ray creating a solid foundation for participants to go on and develop skills. You are encouraged from day one to practice what you have been taught, to strive for quality, to keep going even when frustrated and tired. The whole experience is designed to help you reflect on your practice and to learn, every failure is a teaching point and it just goes to ensure you leave the course in a stronger position. The Woodlore team were outstanding at every stage, Wayne and James were patient with all of us, encouraging participants at every stage to develop skills and sharing their knowledge. They were also the key for the smooth running of the course ensuring we were fed and watered throughout (the food is brilliant!) and were excellent guides in enabling all of us to take away what we wanted from the course. They were happy to share their knowledge and experience and it was a pleasure working with them. Is a course with Ray worth the cost? I believe strongly that the experience of having quality full time instruction with someone who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of wilderness knowledge is priceless. Ray gave so much of his time in teaching and instruction as well as sitting around the fire with a mug of tea swapping stories and experiences. He was genuinely interested in our lives and why we were on the course and was a wealth of knowledge to draw upon through the week. Be under no illusion he is a tough teacher with incredibly high standards, quite rightly so, as he is teaching and preparing you for success in the vast array of skills you are taught during this week. It was a truly outstanding experience and you do walk away from it with a refreshed and renewed mindset and a greater respect for wilderness space. The week was a truly outstanding experience and I have already changed how I approach my travel and work in the outdoors drawing on the Woodlore values that were shared on the course.  


Rated: 5/5

  3 of 14

  A fantastic experience, equally challenging and inspirational…I left awake and full of life. It was an honor to be taught by Ray and to have felt connected to his own experiences, to the peoples he has met along his path, to the lineages of wilderness travel, and to the respect and beauty that bushcraft can help us perceive. It is also a gift to feel a kinship with the people I spent a week with, and to the teachings we have all shared and grown through. I look forward with energy and curiosity to practicing what I was taught and shown during the week. Thank you Ray for truly being present with us, teaching us the fundamentals with your passion and clarity, and asking us all to step up. Thank you also Wayne and James, our guides. I was struck by the simplicity and effectiveness of our camp and your tuition, supporting our learning and nudging us toward self responsibility. In short…a magical journey and a wonderful memory!  


Rated: 5/5

  4 of 14

  To all who are reading this, listen up!! I have just done a Fundamental Bushcraft course with Ray, Wayne and James, it’s hard to write in words the extent of joy and happiness I had while doing the course and the feelings I have about it upon returning to my normal life of a painter and decorator. It was by far the best experience of my life. It exceeded my expectations a million fold!! To be on a course with big man Ray himself was just the most surreal thing ever. When people say don’t meet your heroes, this does not apply to Ray or this course, he’s a bloody legend and is one of the nicest people ever. He was patient, helpful and gave us so much more personal time than I thought would happen, he was great. He took the time to ask each of us about our lives and really came across like he cared. The course itself was intimate, concise and we spent three days learning the skills we needed to then go on bivvi camps for 3 days and use the skills we learnt. I’m lucky that on this course it was a small group and I bonded with all the people there very closely. The assistants Wayne and James were so lovely I can’t even begin to tell you, I can’t imagine having wanted anybody else to have been with us now I have been with them. They were really really personable and patient, good spirited, very professional and a big big credit to woodlore. Also James makes a wicked tzatziki!! Wayne was so nice to me and I really felt he cared about all of us and wanted us all to do well, both Wayne and James were ultra ultra lovely. Diana at the office is also really lovely on the phone when you ring the office prior to going on the course, she was bright and cheery to talk to which just added to the overall amazing experience of the whole thing. If you are reading this review just pull your finger out and get on and book a course!! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!! It has changed my life and has made me look at things differently. I’m so glad that I done it, I will never ever forget it. To Ray, Wayne and James, l love you guys man!!! You have made me a better man.  


Rated: 5/5

  5 of 14

  It was a great week. Ray was not only sharing his deep knowledge of Bushcraft and how to use it in England but also, since I’m from Sweden, gave me a lot of valuable things that I can use when I go back home. Wayne and James took great care of us. Always there helping out and answering questions. Can strongly recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn more about Bushcraft from the best  


Rated: 5/5

  6 of 14

  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

  7 of 14

  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

  8 of 14

  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

  9 of 14

  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

  10 of 14

  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

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