Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft Course – Lochside Part 1

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The start and kit list

So that was the week that was.  A full week on a, surprisingly, remote estate in Perthshire learning the basics, the fundamentals if you will, of Bushcraft from the team at Woodlore.  They have elected to start running courses in Scotland, I don’t know how long they’ve been doing it I thought they only did them down south but it made my course selection somewhat easier.

B paid for most of the course for my birthday which was very kind.  Probably glad to get rid of me for a week although I’m couldn’t say I was welcomed back with open arms!

We met up at the proscribed meeting place a few of us gingerly getting out of vehicles ‘Are you with Woodlore?’ or ‘Are you on the Woodlore course?’.  The ones arriving by train were somewhat easier to spot with bergens on their back.  Within a few mins of us all convening Dave, Woodlore Quartermaster and instructor, arrived and checked off our names.  He told us to follow him in convoy taking care to watch the vehicle behind and that it didn’t go out of sight.  With a 180 on the pretty empty high street we were off.

The drive on to the estate was uneventful and being relatively local to the area, although I’ve never been in the vicinity, I’d be keen to go back as there was some lovely walks signposted.  We parked our car in a field with the sheep acting as security, shouldered our packs and set off at a bimble to the campsite.  Christ I brought a lot of stuff!  I was relieved to see one of the other course participants rock up with a Berghaus Vulcan with side pockets.  I had my Markhor with USGI Go bag as lid and my RIBZ.  The Go bag was to act as my daysack.

It was a short walk to the campsite and we dropped our bags for a briefing.  Our communal area was under a parachute, with felled logs partly dressed as seating, a fire with a tripod and pot of water over it.  Next to the logs was the brew tin with the biscuits, makings for coffee and tea although only skimmed milk powder was provided (boke).  It congealed nicely in the bottom of your mug unless you constantly stirred it.  Two 20l plastic jerrycans were our starter for ten of potable water.  Part of our camp duties was to boil water for our own drinks etc and boil the water to keep the jerry cans filled so we had water.  It actually went pretty well over the week, a few times a pot of water destined for a brew was diverted in whole or part to fill the jerry cans.  I did mid-week start boiling water in my titanium canteens to purify my own water and make a brew.  I did not abdicate myself from water responsibility in any way but it meant I was more self-sufficient.

We were then shown the cleaning facilities for hands and plates etc.  All were nice little stainless steel bowls on logs.  Two had fairy liquid and a scotchbrite sponge, one had anti-bacterial  hand soap.  Sat next to them was a large steel bucket, this was to be placed on the fire to heat water for a shower.  Next to that was a small stainless kitchen tin which had toilet roll, hand sanitiser and a lighter.  The toilet sundries and engaged symbol, in that if it wasn’t there the toilet was engaged.  Then we sat off with one of the other instructors Steve through the woods in the failing light to be shown where the toilet trench was.  A bit of a failed start as we walked past it then we found it on the way back.  Simple and effective, do your business, cover it with layer of soil, don’t bury it and then burn the toilet paper.  There were lots of giggling but hey we would all be using it.  Then we set off back the way we came looking for the shower.  It was pretty dark by now and we couldn’t find it so off we went back to the parachute.  Dave was there to give us the scheduling.  We had an hour or so to pitch our tents, hammocks, tarps in the nearby woods.  I chose the lower area as it seemed slightly flatter and set my tent up with a few other guys nearby but not on top of me.

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I tried to sort my kit out quickly and try to get my shit in one sock (SIOS) but I have to say it did seem to elude me most of the week.  Kit here there and everywhere and too many pockets to keep track.  Back to the parachute and Tom the lead instructor introduced himself and give us the outline of the course.  Following that it was a tasty soup with large chunks of bread for dinner.  After dinner we sat around drinking tea and chatting.  The other course participants, 17 of us in total, had come a long way.  One from Texas, two from Amsterdam, one from Finland and another from Norway.  The remainder had come from mainly the north of England.

I went back to my tent about 2200 wrote up my journal and continued trying to sort my kit out.  I had already identified some kit that I brought that I would not need and I wanted to have a change of clothes in the tent.  I planned to go back to the car first thing in the morning early.  I tried to go to sleep but it was difficult and, I’m embarrassed to say, it was mainly down to my excitement to start the course.

I’ll continue the actual course description and review in another post but I’ll list the kit I brought for the course below with a few observations.

Carry
Bergen Kifaru Markhor on Duplex frame
Daysack USGI Air Warrior Go bag and also lid for above.  A little tight but I always lugged too much kit around.  Very handy though.  Put the black side pouches on it and it did the job.
Bladder 3l Camelbak never used it
Possibles Assorted camp kit and spare kit, to be rationalised.
Sleeping bag Field and Trek (when they were good) 750 down bag lovely although I was a tad cold one night
Sleeping mat Thermarest Neo Air
Bivy UK military bivy bag brand spankers.  Nothing to break on it
Pillow Cheap inflatable pillow in a Kifaru pull out to improve how it sits
sit mat Thermarest inflatable
Blizzard bag Just in case
RIBZ Usual kit in this, bino’s, compass, first aid etc  Didn’t use them but removed some stuff to daysack and carried my first aid kit all the time.
Poles Didn’t use them and left them in the car.
Food/water
Water bottle X 2 Titanium.  Having two seemed a good idea at the time and I had spare cash.  Having two was very useful.
Mug As above
Lid As above
Bottle hanger Not used
Bowl Titanium double wall with plate as lid.  Very useful
Brew kit Used it, long live condensed milk.
Biscuits B Didnt use and left in the car in case I was hungry or didn’t like the food.
Peanut butter As above
Trek bars Used a few as snacks or breakfast additions
Condensed milk Brought it, used it, shared it.  B had to hunt high and low for the small tubes, well done her.
Water purifier Sawyer, didnt use it.
Gas Stove Didn’t use it, took it back to the car
Tools
Leather pouch Woodlore pouch.  Picked it up second hand off ebay.  Still playing with contents
Canvas pouch Self made version of Woodlore canvas pouch.  Didn’t use it or anything else in it.
Compass Not required
Tinder Used although the birch bark I had chosen was really too thin.
Spoon knife Never got to use it my spoon did not progress that far
Leather man signal Not required but I still plan to keep it in leather pouch as a spare blade.
Nav/Cam
GPS Satmap
Map OSGB
Map Case Didn’t use it
Notebook Used it and needed it
Camera Took quite a few photos mainly of instructor demonstrating
Tripod Didn’t use it
W’proof case Didn’t use it
AAA Used them for head torch
AA  Didn’t use it.  I brought additional Li-on batteries to recharge things.
Clothing
Trousers Austrian army, two spare pairs.  Used, great trousers.
Shirt Arktis warm weather shirts, two spares.  Used, love them.
Merino Two spares and wore silk long sleeved top underneath.  Warm and comfortable.  I also wore merino long johns to bed, very comfy well done Aldi.
Fleece Wore the French mil version of the Ullefrotte 400g zipped top.  Warm and comfortable
Windproof Wore but changed to goretex mid-week
Buffalo Handy to have but didn’t wear.
Goretex Wore jacket
Hat Gloves Wore late in the week when it was a bit chilly.  Wore my Tilley hat the remainder of the week.
Pants/Socks X 4 Used
Wash kit Used.  Water wipes (a blessing a B find), toothbrush and paste, soap, anti bag gel was carried all the time.
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