In April I went with my 13 year old son, his mate and his mate’s dad to a bushcraft skills weekend course run by Andrew Callaghan from Fenland Bushcraft.
The course took place in a small wood on a private country estate in West Norfolk. Next to the wood is a lake, home to many talkative, ducks, geese and swans. It’s a beautiful place and quite secluded.
The communal gathering point for the weekend was under a parachute shelter, which is also where we met for supper and breakfast.
The day started with Andrew and his assistant, Geoff, demonstrating how to start fires using firesteels, flints and bow drills.
The boys tried all the tools and after a bit of huffing, puffing and experimentation managed to get a fire going.
Next up was wood working.
The boys first learnt to use knives safely and then how to carve tent pegs and spoons. It was a joy seeing these young teenagers so engrossed in an outdoor activity.
While the boys worked on their crafts, I set up a hammock for Harry and a tent for myself.
As night drew in we left the wood for a walk around the lake. We watched the sun go down and the night sky go up with a thousand and one stars, no light pollution here!
After a hearty cowboy camp meal (expertly cooked by Andrew) we sat around the fire telling ghost stories before heading off to bed.
We woke to a bright morning and brewed up some coffee.
Under the parachute shelter, Andrew cooked up a mighty breakfast.
The smell of the bangers and bacon soon had everyone up and out of sleeping bags and crowding around with plates at the ready.
The final activity of the weekend was spent with the boys taking turns to evade and search for each other. They dressed up in ‘gilly’ suits and and tried to blend in with the surrounding woodland.
No one could find Harry…
And all of a sudden it was time to pack up and leave.
It was wonderful seeing the boys out and about in the woods with no thought of computers, PlayStations or mobile phones. And us parents also had a great time, a win-win situation all around.
If you live up in East Anglia and like the outdoors then I can heartily recommend Fenland Bushcraft. Alongside the kids and parents weekend they run bushcraft and survival skills courses for adults, all at very affordable rates.
Check out more on their website: www.fenlandbushcraft.co.uk.