Page 1

Will Lord and

the Mighty Burin

The Power in a Flower Fishing for Pigeons Make a handle for your knife

COURSES FOR AUTUMN 2014 Autumn Forage and Wild Food Feast Sunday September 14th A one day celebration of the Autumn bounty, for all the family. Forage for the hedgerow harvest, sample wild foods and learn how to make the most of the season’s treats; take away recipes and tips on preserving for the winter.

Woodland Fungus Foray Sunday October 12th Forage in ancient woodland for an incredible variety of fungi with our expert, Steve Kirk. This is an opportunity to learn about fungi in general, as well as to identify and sample any edible species we find. Bring digital cameras and notebooks.

Keep up to date and book online at

Bespoke Shrimping and Sandy Shore Foraging Contact us and arrange to get together with a group of friends for a day out learning some of the skills of self-sufficiency. Use a shrimp net and collect shellfish in a beautiful sandy bay on the south coast of Kent under the experienced leadership of lifeboatman, John Ruffhead. Cook and sample the fresh fruits of the sea, enjoy the incredible wildlife and discover the edible and medicinal properties of seashore plants. Minimum of 6 persons. We will find you a date for when the tide is right and provide shrimp nets and lunch on the day. E-mail:

Bespoke Spoon Carving Learn the skills and try out the tools under the guidance and tuition of our skilled craftsman, Paul Bradley, at a site in Kent. Make and take away your own spoons. Get together with a group of like-minded friends and contact us to arrange a date or book a day as a birthday or other gift for a special person or persons. E-mail:

Bespoke Leatherworking Learn techniques to make and decorate your own personal items under the experienced guidance and tuition of our craftsman, Paul Bradley, at an indoor venue in Kent. Get together with a group of like-minded friends to reduce the cost per head or book a day as a birthday or other gift for a special person or persons. Contact us to arrange a mutually agreeable date. There is usually a small additional charge of £5 for materials.


Keep up to date or book online at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter at you can tweet us with @ bushcraft_mag

All courses cost £45 for the day to non-subscribers, £35 to subscribers; includes free overnight camping at our farm, and lunch of vegetable soup and bread roll on the day.

Volume 10 Number 2 Summer 2014 The Bushcraft Magazine is published by:

The Bushcraft MagazineTM .

Egerton House Cottage, Egerton, Ashford, KENT TN27 9BD Founder: Huw Woodman Editor: Steve Kirk Advertising: Matthew Selfe Webmaster: Paul Bradley Soup Dragon: Cathy Hill E-mail: Advertising:

CONTENTS 4 A MAY MEET MONTAGE so you can see what you missed. 5 PARK LIFE Carol Hunt goes to town. 8 HAND CRAFT A KNIFE AT HOME - PART 2 Roger Harrington shows you how to handle a knife 12 THE POWER IN A FLOWER Steve Kirk pits plant against poison. 16 FISHING FOR PIGEONS Andy Pattenden with intrepid tales of famine foraging . 20 THE MIGHTY BURIN Will Lord with some core flint knapping skills. 24 ’CRAFTY YOUNG FOXES Taylor Peek and sly old fox, Steve Kirk. 26 BUSHCRAFT BRITAIN & IRELAND Our „at a glance guide‟ to a bushcraft school near you. 28 EASY MACKEREL FEATHERS C‟m‟on Matthew Selfe, everybody knows that fish have scales. 30 CONDIMENTS OF THE SEASON compliments of Phil Ireland. 33 A BOWYER’S JOURNEY Jason Wayne Beever works his horn and sinews. 35 THE LAST WORD Lloyd Hooper has some “Divine Inspiration”. EDITORIAL REGULARS 2 COURSES 14 WEATHER LORE 22 STAR LORE

Having journeyed so far from our hunter-gatherer roots, people seem a little shy, wary of, or inconvenienced by Nature nowadays. Not bushcrafters, of course, or other country-savvy men and women. But with bushcrafters, it seems to me, there is an added spur. As well as wanting to be out in Nature and interacting with it, there is among the majority that I have met, a desire to share the knowledge or teach their craft at every level. Some people train to become instructors, or may have gained that status through a lifetime of experience, and then go on to teach the skills and hope to earn a living doing so. There are more certain ways to make money, so that can’t be the motivation. Rather it must be the passion. Those who do this therefore are the intermediaries between folk who are tentatively ‘re-connecting with the landscape’ and Nature itself, not people out for themselves. In a bid to be an intermediary between bushcraft schools and those who might seek their services, we publish in this issue a map of Bushcraft Britain and Ireland, laying out a nationwide spread of knowledge-sharers. Now it is bound to be incomplete, but be polite and patient and we will eventually include you, somehow. Witness how much space it takes (page 26). We have included ourselves on the map, as a vessel for people bursting with something to pass on. In this issue alone there are ten individual voices with something to say. Thank you for giving them the opportunity to get it off their chest. And if you are finding gaps in your knowledge or certain adventurous experiences lacking, why not consider getting in touch with a practitioner near you? Steve Kirk.

Cover photo by Will Lord: Beyond 2000 BC

Some of what you missed! Put the dates in your diary for next year!

5th Annual May Meet 2nd - 5th May 2014


Green Woodworking



Earth Circles Leatherworking

Bow Drill


Wild Cooking Camp Fires Staff Making

Smoking Photos by Zed Shah


A whole host of activities...


1st - 4th May 2015 Bushcraft Magazine




High summer is what is termed 'The Hungry Gap', in foraging terms; that point in the year when wild edible greenery is becoming coarse, dry and is beginning to die back, while the hedgerow fruits of Autumn are still no more than a tempting promise. So you might be surprised if I suggest that it is worth exploring local urban habitats instead, but at this time of year the maintained landscapes of parks and gardens can contain rich caches of hidden gems, particularly interesting non-natives and cultivated forms of plants that are both edible and useful.

Bushcraft Magazine

the easily overlooked...

...English Walnut

Permission is still an issue, obviously. While you might occasionally get away with a little discreet harvesting, it's far better to forge a good friendly relationship with the owners/ managers by explaining what you would like to do, as well as sharing your knowledge (and perhaps some of the produce!). Remember too, that what you find in parks especially, are specimens planted and maintained for the enjoyment of all; so if you're fortunate enough to obtain permission, pick carefully and take even greater care not to damage the habitat or the plant.


The English Walnut, Juglans regia, is a popular tree, found in many urban situations, and is very easy to identify. At this time of year the fruits are often abundant but are yet to ripen completely, so my plan is to cash in on that potential and beat the local wildlife to the punch by gathering the unripe nuts and using them to make a darkly potent, spicy Italian aperitif liqueur called 'Nocino'. You will need: 1 very large glass jar with a well fitting lid (a 2 ltr clip topped type with a rubber seal is ideal for this)

Rubber gloves – optional, but remember that the sap from the walnuts will stain your skin and clothes A sharp knife and chopping board Harvest the walnuts at the point when they are full-sized and the husks are still bright green, but the nut-shell within has not yet developed. You can test this by running a skewer through one, or cutting it open. Wash them to remove any dirt and then cut them into rough quarters.

A 70cl bottle of vodka or brandy (I prefer a brandy base)


500g sugar (I'm going to use a really dark muscavado for added caramel overtones and richness, but you can use white sugar if you prefer)

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Photos Š Carol Hunt

You will also need spices and flavourings such as some pieces of lemon peel, a vanilla pod, cinnamon bark, star anise, allspice berries or a few cloves. Traditional recipes call for lemon peel and cinnamon bark, but I personally think vanilla gives the whole thing a softer more rounded flavor. In place of lemon peel I am also going to use the thinly pared peel of one orange and one lime, with a little star anise, as an experiment.

green walnuts

Approx. 20 or more green, unripe walnuts (Italian tradition states that 24 is the ideal number)

Split the vanilla pod and add it and the citrus peel to the jar (along with any of the other spices you may have chosen). Add the sugar at this point. Pack the walnut pieces into the jar and top up with the vodka/brandy making sure that they are well covered. Seal the jar and set it aside for at least 40 days, remembering to shake occasionally during which time the walnuts and liquid will begin to turn a deep brown/black. After 40 days, strain off the solids and check the liquor for flavour. It should be dark and spicy with nutty overtones. If you favour a sweeter drink, make up a small amount of sugar syrup and adding small quantities until you are happy with the result (you can do this by dissolving 4 or 5 tablespoons of sugar in warm water and stirring until it has completely dissolved and then adding it a little at a time, tasting as you go).

vodka base, steeping These are just some examples of potential harvests that can be found in the urban landscape and needless to say there are many others. As always, do take great care over identification and be sure to check for contra-indications for use, especially if you have health issues. The Plants for a Future website has a wealth of information and provides a good overview:

old and new batches

Decant the liquor into an attractive bottle and seal it well. It is usual to leave it to mature for a further 40 days before use. While it is traditionally drunk as a digestive aperitif, or as a cold cure, I like a little Nocino liqueur drizzled over vanilla ice cream or stirred into custards to add a spicy caramel nuttiness. It is also good as a cocktail ingredient (it's easy to find plenty of recipe suggestions on the internet).



Things to look out for in friends' gardens or local Parks at this time of year include Ramanas Rose (Rosa rugosa) with its large fleshy fruits, Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) which is frequently laden with blue-black, tart berries, Mirabelle and Cherry plums (Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca and Prunus cerasifera) with their small, brightly coloured round plums, Cherries (cultivated forms are from the genus Prunus, either Prunus avium - sweet cherry, or Prunus cerasus - Sour Cherry) for their fleshy fruits , Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) for the medicinal leaves (the edible fruits ripen in October). Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) for the edible flowers and buds, Stag's Horn Sumac (Rhus typhina) for the bright red clusters of 'berries' that ripen around August, Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) for small black fruits, good raw or cooked, English Walnuts (Juglans regia) and Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) the unripe fruits can be pickled or made into 'Nocino', Small Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata) the highly fragrant fresh flowers can be made into a delicious summer drink.

Bushcraft Magazine

Hand craft a knife at home

Part Two

Fitting the Handle Roger Harrington

HANDLE SCALES The slabs of wood or other material used on a handle are called scales. Hopefully you will have chosen something hard-wearing and good-looking. Fruit woods are a favourite of mine as they have a tight grain and good colours. I've used ash here as it is easy to work and is still a traditional English tool handle wood.

Make sure the block is held securely, and cut it with a tenon saw.

Sand the scales on coarse abrasive paper .

Keep the front ends level and not too rounded off.

Clean the area where the handle goes with thinners and allow it to air dry.


Clean away the excess glue where the handle scale and blade meet.

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Drill through the handle wood for the lanyard tube and screw holes.

You can buy pre-prepared scales or blocks that you have to cut. Make sure you choose something big enough to cover your handle and if you need to cut a block down the middle, be sure it is held securely and cut with a tenon saw. It will be harder to cut down the grain than across it but don't rush the cut, take your time and keep your head still for a straight cut (really, it is an old carpenters trick). You'll need to get the sides of the wood that will be glued to the knife completely flat. Sand them on coarse abrasive paper laid on a flat surface in a circular motion until you can hold them against the blade/handle side and when looking through no daylight shows. Now we need to finish the ends of the scales that face the blade as they are not accessible when fitted. Tape or clamp the two scales together as they would be on the knife and sand the end with progressively finer sandpaper until happy with the finish. Try to keep them level and not too rounded off. Ideally you should aim to produce scales that are about 1cm thick, flat and with one finished end each. FITTING AND DRILLING THE SCALES Clean the area where the handle goes with thinners, and allow it to air dry. If there is any grease or oil on the wood it won't hurt to clean that too. Mix some of your two pack epoxy directly on the handle scale to be fitted and locate where you'd like it to be. You should now clamp it in place with a couple of clamps, or the vice if no clamps are handy. Before the glue sets, use some tissue with a little thinners to clean away the excess glue where the handle scale and blade meet. Don't use too much thinners as it will wash away the glue under the scale. When dry, you can unclamp it and using the correct size drill bits and the holes in the blade/handle as a guide, drill through the handle wood for the lanyard tube and screw holes. Keep the drill vertical to the work and if necessary get somebody to guide you and help keep the drill straight.

After cleaning with thinners again you can now glue the other scale on, be careful to align the front faces of the scales so they sit straight with each other. Clamp it up, clean off the excess again and leave it to dry properly. When the glue has had long enough to set properly you can drill through the existing holes as a guide for the new scale.

Be careful to align the front faces of the scales.

Use the right tool for the job!

FIT THE SCREWS AND THONG TUBE Undo one of the loveless nuts from each screw and screw the other nut up so it sits under the screw head. Mix up some epoxy on a piece of card and put a little in each screw hole both sides, not the thong tube hole. Fit the loose nut into one side and fit the screw in the other side and tighten until it stops, no need to overdo it or you'll most likely break the screw head off. Do the same for all the screws and then coat the outside of your thong tube (already cut to approximate length) and push it into its hole. You may need to clean up the saw cut edge of the thong tube and might have to help it in with some light tapping with a hammer. When dry you can trim off the ends of the tube and screws with a hacksaw. SHAPING THE HANDLE The first stage of shaping the handle is to cut away any excess material around the outside of the handle with your hacksaw. Cut as close as you can to save work later. When happy with that shape use the coarse, and then the fine, file to clean up and even up the profile. To achieve best results only move on to the finer file when you have cleaned up the hacksaw marks with the coarse one,

Don't go all the way down to the metal, otherwise the screws will not be effective.

Trim off the ends of the tube and screws with a hacksaw.

Tape up the blade.

Use the coarse, and then the fine, file to clean up and even up the profile.



CAREFUL It will be sharp now and will give you a nasty and infected cut if not treated with respect, so tape up the blade. Sometimes it is difficult to tape up a sharp blade as the tape splits at the sharp edge. I've found a useful trick is to slide a section of electric cable insulation over the cutting edge before taping.


You now need to counterbore the screw holes to take your loveless bolts. There are two ways of doing this. One is to very carefully, no doubt with your tongue out, try and drill into the existing holes with a power drill centrally and vertically with a normal drill bit. The other would be to use the drill bit specially made and available from the guy who sold you the screws! I used the first method for years (with a pillar drill) and messed up a lot of holes. My advice is to use the right tool for the job! Only drill down about 6mm, don't go all the way down to the metal, otherwise the screws will not be effective.

Bushcraft Magazine

Use the coarse sandpaper, followed by the medium sandpaper and then the fine .

Shape it so it fits well in your hand.

then file all the coarse marks out. With the blade still safely taped up, clamp it in the vice and use the coarse file to shape your handle. Don't be tempted to just knock off the corners of the handle scales, shape it so it fits well in your hand. When happy with the handle shape, move on to the fine file, then the coarse sandpaper, medium sandpaper and then the fine sandpaper. Get it perfect, if you see a deep scratch from a previous level of sanding, don't be frightened of going back a step; it is far easier in the long run and gives better results. SEALING THE HANDLE You can seal the handle with a variety of oils and waxes. Everybody has their favourite from Danish oil to gun stock oil. All will work, the key is to use a very fine wire wool to apply your oil and buff with a soft

cloth until the buffing friction warms the oil somewhat. Repeat this as many times as you can for the best and most durable finish. Sometimes you can pre heat the handle to open the grain up and allow the oil to penetrate further, only on the surface though; if you warm the steel the glue seal will break. A KNIFE If you have followed all the steps in this article you should now have a good-looking knife, that is comfortable in the hand. It is something to be proud of and you'll have an in-depth understanding of its construction. We'll have to make a leather scabbard for it next and finally give it that proper sharpening to get a long lasting razor edge.

Bushcraft Magazine


Photos Š S Kirk


You should now have a good-looking knife, that is comfortable in the hand, and an in-depth understanding of its construction.



Bushcraft Magazine

The POWER in a In the case of envenomation by snakebite, conventional choices are actually very limited: antibiotics, pain killers and, in extreme cases, antivenom , if available. According to the World Health Organisation, in Europe as many as 8,000 people may be bitten by venomous wild-living snakes every year from which up to 30 deaths could result. In the United States and Canada the figures are slightly higher at 10,000 and the death rate lower at 15, due to the high standard of medical intervention. Elsewhere in the world, particularly tropical and sub-tropical developing nations, the picture is very different. The incidence of venomous bites is very high, the number of dangerous species is much greater, standards of care, poorer and the death rate, intolerable. In the Indian sub-continent, for example there are estimated to be 30,000 to 50,000 deaths, annually.

Lack of medical infrastructure in remote areas means that tribal peoples have developed their own plant-based therapies to save lives. Some of the plants they use are familiar to us in Britain and in some cases their properties have been known since ancient times. In the west, herbalism is usually regarded by the medical establishment and, consequently, by many ordinary people as a form of complementary or „alternative‟ medicine. Once upon a time, almost all medicine was plant-derived, there was no „alternative‟. For some people herbal medicine is still a first resort and plant-based healing continues to be widely and successfully used across the world. Dandelion – Taraxacum offinale, as the herbalist Culpeper is fond of saying, is so well known that it needs no description. It is a powerful plant whose bitter qualities are very beneficial to the human digestive system, liver, kidneys and blood. In parts of Himalayan India and Pakistan, tribal healers have found a combination of the leaf and root to be an effective antidote to the bite of venomous snakes. The plant is mashed to a paste and the patient takes it by mouth; others, such as the people of Pangi Valley of District Chamba, apply it externally on the wound as well. Although the dandelion is highly esteemed by Western herbalists past and present, unlike some other snakebite remedies I can find no record of this use in Europe. Modern scientific research has shown that dandelion contains the plant-steroids beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol which, as well as being anti-inflammatory, have been shown to interact in such a way as to neutralise the tissue damaging effects of viper venom. Several other complex biodynamic compounds are present that are known to prevent or reverse tissue damage.


It is interesting to note that several of the herbs that are the most versatile, that produce the most diverse beneficial effects upon the human body, that are generally some of the most healing, are also those whose complex make-up can combat the varied negative effects of snake venom in the same arena. Greater Plantain – Plantago major, and Ribwort Plantain – Plantago lanceolata, for example, are great wound healers. They work by reducing swelling, relieving pain and repairing tissue damage when applied externally but are supportive, strengthening and repairing when taken internally also. Coughs and colds, stomach and gastro-intestinal disorders and fevers are all combated by this plant. Several native American tribes use(d) plantain to counter venomous rattlesnake bite; Mohegan, Cherokee, Chippewa, Ojibwa and others and it is still used today as a folk remedy in the Appalachians. Our own Anglo-Saxons valued it for similar reasons; „If an adder strike a man… rub waybroad (plantain) thoroughly fine, drink it in wine.‟(Leechbook of Bald, 10th century) and it is the only snakebite remedy I can vouch for from personal experience (see „Ouch! Venomous Creatures‟,TBM Vol. 8 No. 2, Summer 2012). In present-day Pakistan it is the root of Ribwort Plantain that is administered, and the powdered root that was often carried around by native American tribespeople „in case of emergency‟.

Bushcraft Magazine


n a Flower

Steve Kirk


Scarlet Pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis, has a common red form, once called the male pimpernel and a less frequent blue one, formerly considered to be female. For added confusion, in Europe and elsewhere a blue coloured close relative has long been confounded with the „female‟ colour form and is now called Anagallis foemina. The properties are very similar, in any case. It has been recommended, taken as a drink with wine, as treatment for the bites of vipers and venomous beasts, since the herbal of Dioscorides, the Greek, a first century AD work that is thought to have incorporated knowledge of many thousands of years before that. Culpeper, in 1654 and, later, others, suggested external use also; 'Used inwardly and applied outwardly, it helpeth also all stinging and biting of venomous beasts or mad dogs.' Completely independently, it is still today used by tribespeople in temperate Pakistan as snakebite therapy, amongst other things. Modern scientific analysis has revealed that the plants contains saponins, tannins, flavonoids, cucurbitacins, enzymes, a bitter principle and a compound known as primin. Several of these may act against snake envenomation but cucurbatins in particular are thought to benefit the heart and blood circulation, reduce swelling and protect the liver. Yarrow – Achillea millefolium. „For a rent by a snake, if the wound is swollen, take twigs of this same wort, seethe it in water, rub them very small; when sodden, lay them on the wound.‟ – Herbarium Apuleius 5th century AD. One thousand five hundred years later and 6724 kilometres (4178 miles) away, a paste of yarrow extract mixed with cornflour is applied to heal the “bruises” of snakebite (ecchymosis from internal bleeding) in the Kashmir Himalaya. In Tamilnadu, India, the whole plant is made into a paste and taken internally for 6 days to antidote snake venom. Some of the active parts are believed to be flavonoids and tannins but Yarrow also contains the powerful antidotes beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol, like Dandelion .



Historically, in Britain, Great Mullein – Verbascum thapsus, has long held a reputation as an effective treatment for a variety of lung and intestinal problems; both in humans and domestic livestock. Externally it was valued as an application to burns, boils and whitlows and the like, so its antiinflammatory and poison-drawing properties are also well known. Among tribal peoples in temperate mountain parts of India and Pakistan, much the same qualities are recognised, with the addition of its use as a treatment for venomous snakebites. Modern scientific analysis confirms that the plant contains many constituents that have proven antivenom capability, including Coumarin, triterpene saponins, flavonoids, and bitter glycosides.

Bushcraft Magazine


Some, perhaps many, of us will go abroad for a holiday this summer. If your journey involves an aeroplane flight (or two) and you are not terrified of flying, then it represents a great opportunity to do some cloud spotting from the air and to get a very different perspective on the weather. A digital camera is invaluable and a window seat a must.

The first thing to remember is that for the most part, the usual scale will be reversed. Once your aircraft is at cruising altitude, around 10km, then the clouds that were nearest to you when you were on the ground (thereby visually the largest) will now appear to be the smallest. Fluffy Cumulus clouds, with their bases normally only 500 to 2000 metres above our heads, could be as much as eight kilometres distant from the eye. Unless they are growing due to unstable conditions they can seem insignificant from on high. But of course your ride might take you through a range of developing weather. Cumulus starts small as humilis, enlarges to mediocris and then swells to congestus before it can shed rain or become a thunderstorm. Cumulus is more noticeable from the air when the clouds have been arranged, by a combination of wind direction and convection source, into ‘streets’; regular parallel lines with small gaps between the clouds. Those in the aerial photograph were probably coming from the sea. Nearest the window they would appear from the ground much like in the accompanying photo. However, in the distance (towards the aircraft wing), the pattern is breaking up and the clouds are showing upward growth and a spreading of their bases into something that may be termed Stratocumulus (heaped clouds forming a layer). Clouds may morph into one another. What we identify them as depends on what height they are at. Hence, high Stratocumulus may be at the same level as the lowest Altocumulus clouds and can look quite similar. Altocumulus are formed of lots of individual cloudlets, or cells, with gaps in between them and occur between 2 to 6 kilometres up. When flying, these may be visually the most obvious clouds. They are easily recognisable and often extensive. Typical cellular Altocumulus are beautiful clouds, from below or above, as shown in these photos. When you fly over them you may experience some light turbulence.


Wherever you see Altocumulus castellanus – mid-level cells whose tops are swelling into little turrets – you can be sure there is some instability in the middle atmosphere. They are a sign of being connected to a thundery system but may be far enough from the active area that things develop no further. On the ground, however it will feel hot and humid. On a slow climbing or short haul flight (a quick hop to France, say) there will be times when these clouds appear close to your aircraft and it is possible to get a good sense of their structure, as in the photo lower right.

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 Photos © S Kirk

Cirrocumulus clouds are hard to spot from the ground. Like Altocumulus they are made up of smaller cells but because of the height at which they occur, around 9 kilometres and above, the individual elements are small, and being so thin present very little contrast with the background sky. It is possible to make out the cells in the aerial photograph. Even at altitude they are wispy in appearance – ghostly and jellyfishlike in this case because they are trailing virga, precipitation that doesn’t reach the ground (see TBM Vol.10, No.1 Spring 2014). Cirrocumulous are mostly ice crystals but may contain supercooled water droplets.


Only one kind of cloud straddles all three levels; the Cumulonimbus – literally translating as a heaped cloud that produces rain, but actually so much more than that. Heating of the ground in Summer, or in the Tropics, the ocean, produces numerous points of convection that explode up through unstable layers of the Troposphere forming a gigantic cloud, several kilometres wide and ten plus kilometres deep. The ‘anvil’ of icy cloud, that classic shape indicative of thunderstorms when viewed from the ground, only forms when the rising cloud is capped by an inversion, a stable, cold layer, often with strong horizontal winds that flattens and spreads out the cloud top into an icy, crystal layer. That inversion is frequently the Tropopause, the very top of the lower atmosphere, and even then the tops of thunderstorms may overshoot, as may be seen in the aerial photograph, before descending again. Over tropical oceans, thunderstorms in all stages of development with all their accessory and associated clouds, are common. Cumulus congestus, also known as Towering Cumulus, form great columns as they propel upwards, and can be seen below beyond the anvil’s tip in the photo. In the distance the flat tops of more thunderstorms can be made out. Many of the thin, misty layers at mid heights are velum (‘sail’ or ‘veil’) caused by widespread condensation of uplifted air layers by all the rising cloud. Cumulonimbus makes the most exciting viewing, though I should not want to fly through one.



For me, flying is more than a convenient form of transport. It offers a unique perspective into the wonders of the sky and the workings of our planet and I can hardly wait until the next time.

Bushcraft Magazine

Fishing for Andy Pattenden



Most of us gather wild food for a variety of reasons. We become reconnected with the origins of our food and the seasonality of supply. We are less dependent on a globalised food industry and at least partially take control of our own sustenance. Only rarely, however, do we forage out of necessity in our modern industrialised world.

supplement the limited resources available. There are both historical and contemporary examples of this which highlight the potential role of wild food in times of crisis.

Rose hips and carrageen: the Home Front in World War II


We will probably all be familiar with the efforts on the Home Front during the Second World War when people War time, however, frequently results in an interruption were exhorted to turn to every source available for their continued nutrition in the face of rationing. The island of conventional food supplies as imports and internal status of Great Britain meant that it was in many ways a transport become disrupted, and in these circumstances people have frequently turned to wild foods to replace or nation under siege as the Atlantic convoys faced a

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seaweed Carrageen (Chondrus crispus) to make agar, an important ingredient in bacteriology.

Food queues in wartime London, 1945

The 900 Day Siege of Leningrad or Tree bark, plantain and Pavlov’s dogs Further abroad, however, more serious privations were occurring during the conflict. Leningrad had huge national symbolic significance as the cradle of the Russian

Plant and pigeon photos: S. Kirk

Rose hips for children’s health

perilous journey to deliver their precious cargoes. However, although external supply routes were largely cut off, our invaluable countryside was not.

Conkers for Lucozade!



There was also a more official dimension to the gathering of wild plants. The Vegetable Drugs Committee oversaw the delegation of collection of medicinal herbs to the County Herb Committees in a kind of collectivised foraging for the gathering of useful plants for the war effort. Various local organisations such as the Women‟s Royal Voluntary Service, Women‟s Institute, the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and schools all participated in the effort. Cigarette cards depicting herbs were even produced as aids to identification. Probably the most enduring folk memory from this period is the mass gathering, a hefty 1,957 tons between 1941-5, of rose hips for the extraction of their vital vitamin C. But the unexpected also appeared, including conkers from the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) to provide a source of glucose for Lucozade no less, and the

Seaweed for agar


The gathering of food from the wild became one source of alternative nutrition. A number of guides were produced; “They Can‟t Ration These” appeared in 1940 and was followed by “Hedgerow Harvest” from the Ministry of Food in 1943. In the preface to the former, the author, the eccentric Vicomte de Mauduit, states: “The object of this book is to show where to seek and how to use nature‟s larder, which in times of peace and plenty people overlook and ignore.” In the book, which is still available as a reprint, not only is there a great deal of information on where to acquire food from the wild - divided up into chapters by habitat - but an abundance of recipes both terse and full, such as squirrel tail soup, bracken asparagus and stewed starlings, as cookery skills ranked high among this man‟s many talents.

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Revolution, as well as being a major military and industrial centre. It therefore formed one of the most coveted prizes of Operation Barbarossa. The German advance into Russia was halted, but at an extraordinarily heavy price. The siege lasted 900 days during which time the city was reduced to rubble and burnt out shells of buildings. Rations of bread for office workers and regular civilians were reduced to 125 grams a day, and towards the end of the siege the bread was so adulterated that only 74 grams of this was made up of rye flour. Imports of vegetables plummeted from 154, 682 tons in 1940 to 30,376 in 1941, and that of fruit from 15, 234 to a mere 508 tons – giving some indication of the seriousness of the situation. Such deprivations meant that people turned to tooth paste, glycerine, cologne, glue, machine oil and other unspeakable abominations in order to assuage their hunger. Kitchen walls were even reputedly licked clean of grease to provide another source of fats. Scurvy, pellagra and rickets were rife and anything green was perceived as containing essential and scarce vitamins. Within this apocalyptic scenario wild foods also played their part in supplementing the meagre rations.

Orache and bran flatcakes fried in machine oil during the siege of Leningrad. The Germans had a non-toxic, plant-based machine oil. Did the Russians? Stinging Nettles


Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Reid views the role of women as pivotal, and they often coped much better than the men with the harsh conditions, partly because of physiology but also due to their skills and So, the cabbage or sorrel previously used in shchi, a attributes. It was observed that the women traditional soup, were substituted with nettles and foraged while the men starved: “Women‟s dandelions. Pancakes were made from ground dandelion traditional familial and social roles made the roots. Tree bark was ground into flour, and pine needles difference in their ability to negotiate Put that on your plate were utilised for their vitamin c content. One factory through the seemingly endless days of the canteen menu contained plantain (Plantago major/ siege.” Plantago lanceolata ) soup, puréed sorrel (Rumex Coltsfoot leaves acetosa) and nettles, beet green (Beta vulgaris) cutlets The extreme circumstances gave rise to and cabbage leaf schnitzel. Others consumed a yeast some almost surreal events. Even the desoup made from fermented birch sawdust. “After a scendants of Pavlov‟s famous dogs at the winter of starvation this menu seemed like a feast”, one Physiological Institute were eaten, while the beleaguered inhabitant of the city commented. custodians of the seed bank of the Vavilov Institute protected its unique collection Anna Reid‟s Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War rather than consuming this ready store of II, 1941-1944 was published in 2011 and makes grain in the face of starvation. Nazi comextensive use of newly unearthed first hand accounts. mandos subsequently raided various scienThese provide vivid insights into the everyday lives of tific institutes across the Soviet Union for ordinary citizens and their attempts to feed themselves. their seeds during the Nazi retreat in 1943. Put that in your pipe an The search for edible greens would even take the inhabitants to hostile and dangerous locations close to Hunger has no eyes; The Siege of the front line of battle. “Carrying basket and scissors, Sarajevo Oak galls Olga Grochina combed the parks for the first dandelions and nettles – so many were doing the same that to find Moving forward fifty years and the former state of Yugoslavia is breaking up and a any she had to venture onto a firing range.” Another inhabitant reports “I could go with scissors and a basket bitter war between the newly independent to the empty and deserted lots – abandoned trenches or republics ensues. The Bosnian city of Sarajevo finds itself besieged by the Serb rubble from buildings destroyed by bombs…In all of forces in the surrounding mountains. Little these places it was easy to cut heaps of new spring chamomile – its fluffy and aromatic little leaves went so food makes it through the blockade and aid packages are sporadic. The population of well with the tender feather grass…In the past it was 450,000 starts to feel the effects of hunger. used as food for canaries. I made a delicious salad out Once again the inhabitants of a captive city of it to supplement the morning portion of our bread Put that in your coffee a find themselves turning to wild food ration ” She also talks of collecting Linden leaves, supplies to supplement what is available. Barbery (Berberis vulgaris) leaves and Shepherd‟s

Bushcraft Magazine


ur pipe and smoke it!

our coffee and drink it!

The present day: Food under siege in Syria If we turn to the present day, the harrowing events in Syria have again witnessed people using for food whatever they can find growing wild. The blockade of Yarmouk refugee camp, home to 18 000 people saw even food aid packages failing to reach the besieged. The beleaguered inhabitants reportedly resorted to eating grass, leaves and animal feed with all their attendant hazards as starvation once more became a weapon of war. “We are now eating anything that comes out of the ground, plants, even grass...these shrubs and grass that we‟re eating causes illnesses, such as indigestion and fever. A few days ago an elderly man died within six hours from eating the grass and shrubs.” Starvation may force the usual caution in respect of unconventional food to be suspended, with catastrophic consequences.

Other unconventional food sources were utilised, such as the urban pigeon. In the novel The Cellist of Sarajevo the author Steven Galloway, relates a scene whereby one of the city‟s inhabitants fishes for pigeons with rod, line and hook baited with bread. “I‟ve caught six, one for each person in my apartment...I only take what I need. If I‟m not greedy, perhaps they will still be here tomorrow,” the avian fisherman states in a perverse spirit of conservation. Snails were also collected and consumed but the supply was soon exhausted.

Photo credit: Christian Maréchal

your plate and eat it!

Coffee was very important culturally and six plant species were used as a substitute. The need for a caffeine substitute seems to haunt the starving. In occupied France during the Second World war coffee was adulterated with ground chestnuts and oak galls, and tea with walnut or chestnut leaves. As Redžić commented, “The Sarajevo ghetto was a place where the old saying that „hunger has no eyes‟ found its full meaning.”

opined the resourceful ethnobotanist, Redžić .

Gathering firewood in Sarajevo

Fair game?

In April 2014, a new Facebook page called “Siege Food” was even launched from the city, focusing on how, in the face of a government blockade of food aid into rebel-held areas, residents have been cooking with unusual ingredients like turtles and wild weeds that Zlatko Zizdarevic‟s Sarajevo: A War Journal grow on the streets. is one of the most compelling accounts of the siege and he considered the continued collec- For many of us, foraging may seem like an indulgent conceit, albeit an absorbing one with many benefits. tion of food an act of defiance in a situation with limited options and resources: “This war For others in the world foraging has been born of can‟t be lost as long as mothers and wives go necessity, as these primal skills are resurrected once again in a struggle for survival in extreme out to find a piece of bread, or a bunch of circumstances. Maybe these reminders give our nettles…” The siege was lifted eventually, passion a new potential relevance? After all history but the contribution of wild food was does have a habit of repeating itself. significant.. “The use of wild edible plants didn‟t solve complex nutritional issues, but, it helped to avoid nutritional catastrophe”,



Photo credit: George Shuklin

In what seems like a heroic act of public service, ethnobotanist Professor Sulejman Redžić from the University of Sarajevo initiated an education programme concerning the use and identification of wild plants. His subsequent research reports that the inhabitants collected 147 species of plant, 25 species of mushroom and 7 species of lichen in order to fortify their diet. The most commonly used plants were Stinging Nettle, Dandelion, Chicory (Cichorium intybus), Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) and Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris). There was a low availability of carbohydrate rich native plants, and people turned instead to the use of the non native Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) bulbs as a potato substitute. The high ranking of Coltsfoot may come as a surprise; although perhaps not when its use as a tobacco substitute becomes apparent!

Bushcraft Magazine


Mighty Burin Will Lord

The flint burin is a small chisel made on the tip of a flint blade that can then be used for scraping into bone and antler to create a variety of prehistoric tools. What makes this such a special tool is that it is an example where flint stone, known to be approximately the fifth hardest material in the world, is set up so that its hardness is used to score or grind into surfaces that would usually cause it to flake, snap or shatter. Used correctly it can be drawn repeatedly in a grove so as to create a channel hence its name burin. Then with a sequence of following grooves you will be able to extract a desired shape from the material you are working on.

Archaeology commonly cites the burin as a Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) tool, dating between 10,000 and 6,000 years old. It was used to create tools such as those that coastal hunter-gatherers would have favoured, like the harpoons from Star Carr, as well as the more commonly known needle and awl that made it all the way into the Neolithic for use on hide and clothing. However, due to the absolute strength of this tool, it was actually employed in the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) period to carve mobile rock art projects. Recently shown at the British Museum, some items such as the mammoth tusk lion man would have taken in excess of 300 hours to create and date back as far as 30,000 years.


Lion man photo by J. Duckeck

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The burin can then be used by pulling gently along the bone/antler or even another stone. A little practice will teach you the correct angle to hold the tool and how to get the best from it and maintain its function. It can also be hafted into a shaft and used as a drill to make holes.


To create a burin you will need to cast a flake from a blade core. This in itself can be tricky to achieve. The desired removal will be slender, straight and have a ridge down the centre of its back, terminating to a point.

Following this, the flake will be turned on edge and a small triangulate removal released to begin the chisel tip. It is then rotated so that the second spall can be removed, thereby creating the pointed and supported tip.

To capture the understanding of this properly, it is best to watch it being done. You can follow the process on Youtube at



Photos Š Will Lord: Beyond 2000 BC

For me, this is a number one tool and truly captures some of the amazing skills used throughout the Prehistoric period.

Bushcraft Magazine











OCT 08


OCT 23


NOV 06


NOV 22


DEC 06


DEC 22


JAN 05



still might.





Hourly rate


July 23 - August 20

August 12*



Oct 16 - 27

Oct 20/21



Nov 15 - 20

Nov 16/17



Dec 7 - 16

Dec 14


* Full Moon interferes THE PLANETS Jupiter becomes

Venus is a brilliant Morning

visible in September in the early morning.

Mars is

bright in Virgo (low in SW) , converging with Saturn in Libra in late August .

Star until October when it becomes the Evening Star.

Saturn is in Libra





05:25 05:17 05:31




06:13 06:15 06:26


NOV 1 06:54 DEC 1


Mercury is

best seen in May 2014








18:37 18:59



17:39 17:51



07:06 07:19 07:26

NOV 1 16:32 16:46



05:56 08:19 08:22




15:55 16:07

Note that all times are Universal Coordinated Time UTC /GMT. Add 1 hour for local time until October 26.


Autumnal Equinox occurs at 02:29 September 23, 2014

Bushcraft Magazine


On summer nights without a moon, in deep twilight, in the direction of the sunset, have you ever noticed a patch of luminous electric blue and silvery white clouds with ripple patterns resembling a sandy seashore, spreading up from the horizon? If you live in Scotland or Scandinavia, Canada or Alaska, chances are high that you have, but even if you live in the south of England and are observant and lucky, you could have or

Clouds, rightly, have their station in the troposphere, that thin envelope of air that clings to our planet and which enables life to exist here. They are part of the weather and the water cycle that takes place there; of evaporation and precipitation and return to the sea. They are part of the mechanism that keeps the planet Earth and its inhabitants, hydrated. Not something, surely, that has any connection to space and the stars? But what if those clouds formed on the very fringes of space itself? Indeed where does the atmosphere end and space begin? The Atmosphere Any mountaineer will tell you that the higher you ascend the ‘thinner’ the air becomes, so by the time you have reached the highest place on Earth, the summit of Mount Everest, (8.548 km above sea-level) you will be inhaling a mere one third of the oxygen and other gases, that you were at sea level. At this point, birds and all but the highest Cirrus family clouds will be below your eye-level. Above and beyond is the province of aviators, aeronauts and astronauts. Most civilian passenger aircraft cruise at a height of around 10 kilometres and above. In parts of the world this may be in the next layer of atmosphere – the Stratosphere – but towards the Equator the troposphere deepens, extending to almost 17 kilometres. Eighty percent of the Earth’s atmospheric mass is in the lower portion, after that it becomes very diluted. Rather than the noticeable decrease in temperature with height that occurs in the Troposphere, the Stratosphere warms up the higher you go! This region of the atmosphere extends upwards to a paltry 50 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. Why, were it on the flat one could walk it in a day! Above the Stratosphere is the Mesosphere. Temperature once again declines again with height, until the upper reaches of the Mesosphere (about 87km) are the coldest portion of the atmosphere. Or so I am told, I confess I have never been there myself, though I have seen this region clearly defined, with my naked eye, for it is the part of the atmosphere where meteors burn up. And certain elusive, exhilarating clouds form. A little higher and we are in the Thermosphere, a large, vaguely delimited part of the atmosphere where some strange things happen. First, it technically gets warmer again (hence the name – think ‘flask’). I say ‘technically’ because it wouldn’t feel any warmer. It is so near vacuum that even

Night-shining clouds in the NNW. The paired stars are the front foot of the Great Bear. There is no water in space (as far as we know!), so logically it must somehow originate from the Earth below. As for the particles that seed the crystal formation, well, fine ash from an extreme volcanic eruption, such as that of Krakatoa in 1883 could, over time, reach that high. The first records of NLCs occurred two years after the Krakatoa event, suggesting a possible link; however their continued presence requires a different explanation. Earth is under continuous bombardment from the natural debris of the solar system. As these meteoroids rub against the mesosphere they ignite like match tips, leaving behind wisps of smoke at the same level as these clouds form.

Noctlilucent Clouds observed from Kent in July 2013. The same clouds were photographed in Wiltshire and the same patterns and structures were visible within them. Observing To see these enigmatic apparitions you will need to be between 50°N and 65°N (or similar latitudes in the southern hemisphere). The British Isles are an excellent viewing platform and NLCs can be observed even from the far south of England, though the best and most frequent viewing occurs in Scotland. To illuminate these high regions of the atmosphere, the sun needs to be more than 6 degrees below the horizon. Thereafter nautical twilight begins. At that time the horizon is still visible (without the aid of light pollution) and the sky is deep blue, rather than black, in the west. There is still a low glow over the sunset point and it is around this that the clouds start to become visible. The clouds then appear to grow and spread, sending snaking tendrils, ripples, knots and swirls of shining blue further from the horizon, depending how close they are to the observer. In the north they may persist all night, for the sun does not sink far below the horizon and at the right latitude nautical twilight occurs until just before sunrise also; in the same way nightshining clouds are never seen within the Arctic Circle , where they actually form, because of the prolonged daylight and bright civil twilight that is experienced throughout the summer months when the sun does not set below the six degree threshold.


Photos © S Kirk

Noctilucent Clouds Back to those clouds, Polar Mesospheric Clouds, as they are known to science; their name clearly defines their occurrence at high latitudes and high altitudes – they form around eighty to eighty-five kilometres up, near the boundaries of at least one definition of ‘space’! PMCs are more commonly known as Noctilucent Clouds denoting, of course, that they shine at night. They are strictly a summer phenomenon, appearing between mid-May and mid-August, when the nights are short. Curiously, the northern hemisphere’s warmest period of the year is when the upper atmosphere is coldest, causing these clouds to form. Essentially, as the lower layers of air warm up they expand, and in so doing push the upper reaches further out into space. Other atmospheric processes contribute, driving the air still higher and cooling it further and the temperature of the upper mesosphere descends to minus 210°C. Even so, for an ice crystal to form, two more ingredients are necessary – moisture and, as anyone who has ever grown crystals from a science set will know, a nucleus – something for the crystal ice to form around. So where could these things come from?

NASA’s AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) spacecraft discovered recently that these minute particles of meteor smoke are providing the nuclei for the tiny crystals that make up these clouds on the edge of space. They are truly the products of long-distance connections.

While they may seem impossibly remote, night shining clouds reflect processes that are occurring here on Earth combining with others that are happening in space. The water vapour of the clouds that form them, and the Sun’s light, sometimes render them visible to the eye. Extraordinary and beautiful they are, too.



though the widely scattered gas particles that are up there are ‘excited’ by solar radiation and become electrically charged, they are so diffuse that very little heat transfer can occur. Nor can sound be transmitted; and at 100 km high an aircraft can no longer generate lift, thus aeronautics ends and astronautics begins. The hem of the Aurora reaches down to 90 kilometres while the skirts themselves may extend upward 150 km or more. Space, surely? Good.

Bushcraft Magazine

Plantain Pop-guns Steve Kirk 1

1] I used to play this game when I was a boy, (still do) but I find that not many children know it any more. We used the long stalks of Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata, to ‘shoot’ each other. Taylor Peek demonstrates. 2

3 3] Then take the tail in your right hand and bring it up to the head.

2] If you are generally right-handed, hold the plantain stem just below the flower or the seed head. (It is kinder to use the seed head and it helps distribute the plant, but earlier in the year the flowers are very common in grassy places and the seeds haven’t developed yet).


4] Wrap it around the stem and bend it firmly in a ‘V’, making sure you have a large loop. 5 5] Keeping the ‘V’ closed, pull back on the loop until the head is up against it. Take aim. 6


Photos © S Kirk

6] Pull the loop back hard and the flower or seed head pings off! (Ringed, in the photo.) With practice, it will fly several metres and your accuracy will improve. Have fun!

Bushcraft Magazine


The Willow’s Wonders Taylor Peek Willow is a tree that loves sunlight and to grow in damp places. It is one of the easiest trees to grow and also one of the best for making things with because, alive or dead, it is flexible and bendy. Dried (but then soaked) willow twigs, known as withies, are so flexible that they make very good material to build baskets out of. That is why quite a lot of the time you will see that most wooden baskets are made out of willow. A long time ago there was a man named Gregory, who became Saint Gregory, the Wonderworker. One of the miracles he did was to plant his staff beside a river to stop a flood. His staff grew into a great big tree and there were no more floods. I think his staff must have been made of willow. Willow is so keen to grow that even cut and stacked branches will send out roots, if rained on or watered, and people have made use of this fact. Living willow has become a very fashionable material in recent years and people have started using it to make sculptures, seats, tunnels and other things. The possibilities seem endless! For example, Egerton Primary School in Kent has grown a willow structure in next to no time. To do this, first of all they got nice long sticks of willow and stuck them in the ground to make a circle. Then they bent and overlapped the willow to make a beehive dome shape. After that they secured the shape down with string. Finally, watering the edges of the willow structure made the willow sprout in no time at all. I hope this has inspired you and your friends to start getting more involved with nature. We are just trying to bring back some of the amazing things you can use the wonderful willow for.



Photos courtesy of Egerton School

Top tip for building out of willow, do it in spring!

Bushcraft Magazine

Bushcraft Britain Mountain and Bushcraft Ways 01478 650380 / 07748 695531


Ireland A glance at the map shows that wherever you live there is a bushcraft school near you, right? Well not quite. There are some gaps, and I am bound to have missed a few. Bear in mind that a number of well-organised schools operate from more than one site and several based in England make use of the wilds of Wales or Scotland as well, but these are not shown as additional dots on the map. Websites, e-mails (unless contact is made via an online form) and telephone numbers, some with additional mobile phone, are included but for reasons of space it was not possible to supply a name, or address. More details, including available courses and prices, will be available on the relevant websites. A proportion of the information on these pages comes with the prior consent of the bushcraft provider; the rest is freely available online, though not in this format, which I hope proves to be useful for everyone. If your organisation is present and you wish to have it removed when we update, or if you were missed off and would like to be included, please contact us and we will see what we can do.

Survival School 0871 222 7304 or 07786 436518


Hands on Bushcraft 07598 491 989



Arran Bushcraft and Survival +44 (0)7876 405080 Woodsmoke 01900 821779 . 07703002769 Northern Ireland Survival School Kinnego Bushcraft Centre Living Wilderness Bushcraft (+353) 086 392 5958

Cambrian Survival 01970 612969 or 077877 42435 The British Bushcraft School 07952 683 383

Fáilte go dtí "Will And Away" (087) 1366373

Dryad Bushcraft 01792 547213 07901 873343


Survival Outdoors 01292 531675

Firefox Bushcraft (0) 1341 430336

Mac Tíre Bushcraft

Biblins Bushcraft 01600 890850

Forest Bushcraft 01594 835116

Backwoods Survival School 0141 641 2055

Wild Spirit Bushcraft 07905 466884

Woodlanders Bushcraft www.woodlandersbushcraft 01341 423 407

Wildpath 07977828058 Coastal Survival School 07702 104644

Mayo Bushcraft

Craig Grant 07813005765 Wildwise (+44)1752 308388 01803 868269

Backcountry Survival 01479 873388

Satellite image courtesy of NASA/ MODIS The Four Crows Bushcraft and Primitive Living Skills 07510695932

Bushcraft Ventures +0044 (0)13398 86855 07568 523 926

Lonescout Bushcraft 07971 197109 Adventure Training North East 07713 25 46 49 Woodland Survival Crafts Dave Watson 07736 225035 . 01530 411861 TheCanoeMan School of Wilderness Bushcraft Wilderness Pioneers 0845 4969177 01603 783777 07527 265 330 Woodland Ways Bushcraft & Survival 01234 351006 Green School 07759 497 101 Big Hat Bushcamp 07957 184341 Beyond 2000BC Prehistoric Experiences 07843 019 994

Wild-Live +44 (0)79-190 62 834

Woodlife Trails Wildcrafts Essex Bushcraft School 07877 026082 Red Fox Survival & Bushcraft 01375 851779 or 07941463529 Jack Raven Bushcraft 07553 763397

Wilderness 1-2-1 Badger Bushcraft 07771 562733 01233 756447 or 07768 201177 The Bushcraft Magazine Natural Pathways 07828 316827

Canoe Bushcraft

Land and Wave 01202 460 440

Forest Knights 07771540184 Wilderness Survival Skills 0771 8078619

Ray Mears Bushcraft/ Woodlore 01580 819668 Bison Bushcraft 0845 8387062 Woodcraft School Wildside Survival School 01730 816299 07760160193


Easy Mackerel Feathers Matthew Selfe

Photos courtesy of the author

Have you ever been caught out on the pier when others are catching mackerel? Or on the beach when the water almost starts to boil as a large shoal of mackerel chases its prey towards the shore? You go to your tackle box and you donâ€&#x;t have any feathers! I have, but I still took some home for tea. Here is how you can too.

Rummage in your pockets for an old chocolate bar wrapper or crisp packet. Tear a short section off of the packet and wrap it as tightly around the shank of your hook as you can; with the shiny surface facing outwards.

Now secure this wrapper to the hook with a knotless knot.

Thread a short length, no longer than the shank of the hook, through the eye of the hook, away from the point.


Lay the short length of line along the back of the hook against the shiny wrapper.

Bushcraft Magazine


Begin to wrap the long end of your fishing line around the shank of the hook, securing the wrapper in place. You should use about 10 coils around the hook to secure the wrapper.

Now feed the long length of line back through the eye of the hook, this time towards the point. Pull the line tight.


Your wrapper will now be secured to the hook. If you have some superglue you can always add a small drop to the coils of line to further secure the lure. Trim the short end of line at the back of your hook, about 5mm from where it protrudes from the coils, securing it to the hook.

Take a small pair of scissors and cut the wrapper into strips which will aid attraction when in the water.



You can use these singly or make a few and add to a trace. Cast out and catch your fish!

Bushcraft Magazine

Condiments o Phil Ireland

Some of the easiest wilderness condiments to make, and therefore those that it is easiest to be self sufficient in, are the mustards. There are a number of true varieties, all part of the cabbage family, as well as a couple of other species which may be utilised in a similar way.

Hedge Mustard

One slight word of caution. Some species of mustard are said to be toxic, however, all of the research that I have read refer to feeding large quantities of leaf to cattle, and since we are probably considering consuming relatively small quantities at any time I donâ€&#x;t foresee a problem. After all, chillies are said to fry your brain in large amounts. My wife claims that this explains a lot.



hanging in a cool dry place. Avoid direct heat as the aromatic oils are volatile and I once lost a perfectly good batch of seed by gently roasting them to enhance the flavour as you would with some spices. They ended up bitter A dry harvest is the key to success. Most species will ripen and tasteless. evenly but some stagger their ripening and dampness gives its own problems. Wet seed and mould are at best a waste We can realistically forget making English style mustard of effort, and at worst potentially toxic. Harvest in the powder which is a blend of brown and white seed flour, warmest part of the day when the seed pods are brown and the problem being the de-husking, which is apparently a just on the verge of opening. Test by gently rubbing one trade secret and potentially wasteful for us on a small and seeing if it splits. Snip off the whole seed head and dry scale. It is much easier and more interesting to make Dijon in a cool dry place, checking for any mould and style grain mustard. How you process the seed depends on discarding anything vaguely suspect. In a damp year the the equipment you have to hand, ranging from a pestle and seed may be gathered when fully formed but still green. In mortar to a coffee mill. Once the seed is dry, rub it out into this case, snip off the whole stalk, and allow to ripen by a large mixing bowl and winnow off the seed husks by

Bushcraft Magazine



s of the Season gently blowing and shaking. When you are sure that the seed is as clean and dry as possible it can be stored in a paper bag, or sealed in a jar, possibly with a sachet of silica gel, in a cool dry place and should last for many months.

root. I have never seen this in any foraging book, but it is uncannily like horseradish. The wiry roots are impossible to peel, but washed and minced they give a rather fibrous version, with all of the taste, which is excellent as a sauce or great added directly to mashed potato. Preserve with vinegar and mix Grind the seed as finely as you wish, and pack into a jar. with cream just My favourite storage method with the longest lifespan is before serving with soaking in white wine or cider vinegar. Continue to top up your Sunday roast. over the next few minutes as the liquid is absorbed. The flavour will develop and continue to improve over the The biggest following hour or so, and will keep for several weeks in disappointment was the fridge. This is the way I prefer it but some medieval Ramsons seed recipes with shorter life spans include honey and beer, (Allium ursinum). crushed herbs, and even mulled wine spices. Personally I The flavour is donâ€&#x;t fancy the idea of these and Iâ€&#x;ve never tried them. lovely but the thickness of the seed Each variety has its own unique flavour and colour, two of case makes it unmy favourites are Charlock (Sinapsis arvensis) and Black bearably gritty even Mustard (Brassica nigra). Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium when finely ground. officinale) is also good, but the seed is rather small and fiddly to process. Other members of the cabbage family are worth trying for a milder condiment, for example, allotment produce gone Apart from the genuine mustard species shown, one of my to seed. Bags of sprouting seed are a good but expensive favourites is Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata). A de- introduction. Avoid anything intended for planting such as cent stand on waste ground can easily yield 500g of seed green manures as they may be coated with fungicide. for an hour of harvesting.

Jack by the Hedge

Apart from the seed one surprising use of this plant is the

Beyond2000BC with Will Lord presents a

DEER HIDE TANNING WORKSHOP Over a 2 day period you will have a hands-on experience to create usable products from deer skins.



23rd & 24th SEPTEMBER 2014 For more details and to book, visit



We will lead you into the world of fur, leather and buck skin.

...and much more!

Bushcraft Magazine

A owyer’s Journey Jason Wayne Beever

The Asiatic Composite Bow The Asiatic Composite Bows, amongst bowyers, are rumored to be the most difficult primitive bows to make. I have definitely found that rumor to be fact. Whether the bow is

Some have the wood core in three, five, or seven parts

based from China, Korea, Mongolia, or Turkey, they all require tremendous engineering, continued patience, and an eye for balance. They are made from four components: horn, wood, and sinew laminated together with an infallible mixture of animal tendon and fish swim bladder glue. When the bow is drawn, the sinew (stretched on the outside) and horn (compressed on the inside) store more energy than wood for the same length of bow. I currently am working on fifteen Asiatic Composite bows inspired from various cultures that are center, and handle. These wood pieces must be soaked in different stages of production; two that were successfully strung; one that shoots (yes!); and one that for three-to-four weeks if it is not green. If green, the wood should soak a week. I have learned to make the is in pieces on the floor…and my heart. core length, width, and thickness larger than needed as it provides room for alterations until the final shape is An average Asiatic composite bow can take up to a year made. Once I have the wood core together I groove the to make. The process is lengthy, due to finding the belly for the horn to be laminated. correct materials; shaping and assembling the wood core; processing the horn; manufacturing the glue; When I bent the wood core of the second Asiatic preparing the sinew; and the very long curing time. composite bow I ever made, the horn delaminated. I was devastated, as this was several months into Finding the correct materials is absolutely mandatory. manufacturing this bow. I know now that there were After almost achieving completion on a few Asiatic many reasons for this; however, the two I‟ll share with composite bows, only to have them fall apart at the final you are (1) I didn‟t groove the horn to zipper into the stages after many months of dedicated work, definitely wood core belly and (2) I was using store-bought hide taught me patience. It is better to wait until you find the glue, instead of making my own. Another lesson learned perfect materials than to use a supplement or sub-par while using horn… don‟t ever cut your horn with a tool alternative. Finding a flawless wood core is essential. such as an angle grinder as the smell rivals a baby‟s full I‟ve used dogwood, hickory, and ironwood (hard maple diaper and reeks bad enough to make your neighbors and yellow birch are good, too). When I find the right hate you. Horn can be very tricky, so taking your time to tree, and section it into staves, I have to select pieces that find the correct piece and shape and to cure it properly is are straight grain, contain no twists, and are knot-free. extremely important. Horn must not be soaked for a long The same process is used with horn, as it must have straight grain and the thickness must be consistent throughout. Sinew has to be long and not greasy. The glue is partially made from fish swim bladder, and the bladders have to be from a bottom-feeding fish. Each of these components must be correct or the entire bow will malfunction. The patience to wait until the perfect materials are created or found is a major role in making an Asiatic composite bow.

Grooved horn


There are various styles of Asiatic composite bows. Some have the wood core in three, five, or seven parts for sectional assembly. The wood core can consist of some or all of these pieces: tip, siyah, kasan, sal/arm,

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period of time as it will make it water-logged. Once briefly soaked, it needs to be steamed, flattened, and then grooved to match the wood core. The adhesive that connects the wood core pieces, binds the horn to the belly of the wood core and seals the sinew onto the back of the bow, is a fish swim bladder, deer tendon, and cow tendon mixture that I have developed over time. In my experience, the combination of these three provide flexibility, resistance to moisture, and strength to the glue. It is the strongest and most malleable glue that I‟ve used to date. It took a few Asiatic composite bows under my belt to realize that store-bought hide glue and granules couldn‟t hold the laminate because there are too many impurities in the product, and that deer tendon glue wasn‟t strong or flexible enough. Cow tendon, alone, was too greasy. Pure fish swim bladder took too long to gel. However, the combination of deer-cow-fish makes an infallible glue! Although making your own glue can take from a week to a month to develop, I highly recommend putting all your focus and intention into this valuable material and doing it right the first time around. Storebought glues may be “easier” or “quicker” but the amount of time and hard-work that goes into an Asiatic composite bow deserves only the best as cheap-andquick won‟t work.

labor and time, but will ensure consistency and strength for the back of the bow. The sinew must be weighed and placed evenly on each limb, as well as the glue be weighed for each limb. The slightest unbalance can throw off the bow‟s ability to draw evenly and shoot an arrow. To make any style of bow is a valuable activity. With any bow, there is always the temptation of impatience, fatigue, or defeat; however, I am learning to not feed the energy of these reactionary responses, but rather to stay present with myself, the wood in my hand, and the goal I that know I can achieve. For me, this focus comes from being “in” the project and pushing through the noisy thoughts that hinder progress. This focus inspires a wider perspective on what is required, a more unconditional patience with the process, a heightened sense of detail, and an absolute joy when working on a bow. The amount of personal self-realization that is uncovered when connecting with organic materials and making a primitive tool is life-altering and absolutely priceless. Making a self-bow is my meditation, a meditation of patience, attention to detail, and perseverance that I put into practice when working on complicated tasks like an Asiatic composite bow. But no matter what bow I am making, I use this meditation to work on my ultimate challenge, which is to know myself as a human being.



Learning how to correctly sinew-back an Asiatic composite bow improved my sinew-backing for selfbows, tremendously. I found that the secret is to comb the fibers before dipping them in glue and laying them onto the wood core. Yes, I now have an array of combs with different widths and sizes, just like a Barbie Doll and her accessories. This combing process adds extra


Photos courtesy of the author

Four bows

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Divine Inspiration: Lloyd Hooper

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Divine Inspiration To quote Britney Spears “Oops! I did it again”. This time whilst chatting to the pastor of a little local chapel. Passing the time of day whilst I was waiting to pick the little girl up from Sunday school, he mentioned that he was going on a „camp‟ with one of the church groups. “Where are you off to and what type of tents are you using ?” I enquired.

Lloyd Hooper

Boys will be boys and off they went to play football in the long grass, (whilst we set up the tarps). Only problem was they woke up the resident midge population. Now a number of our “elite” military forces use this area for training and I think they train the midges as well! Oh dear; break the rules, get some green wood on the fire, make as much smoke as possible!

After plenty of burgers they settled down in the fading light. “Well, it‟s only a called a camp. We don`t really camp.” Time for a lesson on basic knots – very basic, plus a few Then with a smile; ” I‟ve heard about the way you camp. No extra ones for the „interested‟ leaders. I showed the pastor thanks!” how to tie a Bowline one handed and when he had finally tied it, with whoops of delight, he announced he might jump “Hey, hang on a minute, now. If you have never woken up off the balcony and abseil into the pulpit. A couple of hours and looked up to trees and leaves or on a clear night of Bushcraft TV, I had a few cups of tea, they had plenty of watched the stars moving around and reached out and e-numbers...I went off to sleep! touched the earth and watched the light changing as it gets morning, then no... you have never camped!” My programme of events had to be drastically adjusted and after bacon rolls, we were ready for a bit of learning. One My words must have inspired, as the next week he says to asked about collecting water, so we had an impromptu me; “Do you fancy taking our older youth group and a few lesson on improvised water filtration. That went well. They adult leaders out on a Bushcraft style camp?” were not ready for basic knife skills – neither is my first aid! A couple of months later, a date had been arranged. So there I am sitting by the campfire, feet up; been there a few hours early to „chill‟ before they arrive. All a bit new for me, this. I‟ve helped a little with the Scouts in the past but this seemed a little different. Then the sound of tyres on the track getting closer; too late, deep breath, let`s go and meet and greet. Not quite sure what I was expecting, but the group were a bit younger and not used to the outdoors. Sadly none had been camping before. (My brain was whizzing round, thinking “Leave the knives in the car”; “Scrap that project”; “Can I get to my axe before them!”)

“No, only tiny little things and this huge one...” and, seeing his face turn white with fear and realizing a change of tack was required) “No, I‟ve checked, and sent them all away.” (Good start, fibbing to a Church group.) “Right lets go and set up. Who wants to try sleeping in a hammock? Looks like the adults then.” (Apparently safer for the kids on the floor). One youngster came up and said “I‟m not entirely satisfied with the facilities and the floor looks quite uncomfortable. I don‟t know how I will sleep.” I replied; “I am sorry, but what facilities? and I can only accept complaints in writing. If you write me a letter I promise I will read it at some point. Happily, he walked away and started playing.”

After that, I demonstrated the bow-drill, which worked a treat: (I had been practicing, but you know what it‟s like with an audience.) Then they all had an attempt at bow-drill passed a bit of time, teaching concentration. Then flint and steel, showed some patience. Ferro rods and cotton wool, kept them interested. Chemical fire lighting got them excited! “And no, I‟m not telling you what chemicals they are! Your mothers won‟t be very happy.” And that was about it, a group of youngsters who had never slept outside before, covered with loads of insect bites, scratched, dirty, tired and stinking of smoke, all asking can they come again, and to cap it all, the pastor, as he shook my hand and thanked me, says, “Inspirational, and your message whilst fire-lighting, if you don`t mind, I will use it in a sermon.” Perhaps I just converted someone to Bushcraft.



Talking of facilities, there were a few raised I‟m just glad no one needed the shovel for Deuteronomy 23 eyebrows when I announced “You pee by a v13! (Look it up. I did. Ed.) tree” (pointing away from the stream) “and the other needs a shovel. If you need to go, walk right over there out of the way, just don‟t get lost.”

The Last Word

“Are there any spiders here?” was the first question from one.

So to fire lighting: I was well out of my comfort zone, trying to bring a message to this lesson, but I must have had a bit of „divine inspiration‟ as I held up a fire-steel and sent out a few sparks. “What`s happening to the sparks?” I said, “They go off in all directions and die out .. a little bit like a life really! They need something: the sparks need fuel...” (I placed a piece of char cloth on a stone and the next few sparks landed, setting the cloth glowing... “a life needs faith. (F- fuel, F-faith.. I`m on a roll). “Now the fire needs one more thing...” (placing the glowing charcloth in a tinder bundle) “and it‟s all around us; it needs air,” and proceeded to blow... “just like God is all around us.” The tinder bundle didn`t quite burst into flame with a dramatic effect but there was a flicker of a flame through the eye-watering smoke.

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Profile for Steven Kirk

The Bushcraft Magazine Summer 2014  

A seasonally linked magazine packed with bushcraft knowledge and traditional living skills to help you interact with nature in a sustainabl...

The Bushcraft Magazine Summer 2014  

A seasonally linked magazine packed with bushcraft knowledge and traditional living skills to help you interact with nature in a sustainabl...

Profile for bushcraft