Paul Kirtley

Paul Kirtley

Paul Kirtley is owner and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft Ltd.

He is recognised as one of the UK’s leading bushcraft instructors.

Paul was previously Course Director at Woodlore Ltd.

Paul spent 10 years studying and training under the guidance of world-renowned bushcraft and survival expert, Ray Mears, first as a student on his bushcraft courses and then as an employee.

Paul is one of only a few people worldwide who have been recognised by Ray Mears as a bushcraft instructor, being awarded the celebrated antler-handled Woodlore instructor’s knife.

Paul established Frontier Bushcraft in 2010 and under his leadership, the company has become known as one of the highest quality bushcraft course providers the UK.

Mountain Training Association Paul holds the UK Mountain Leader Award and is a member of the Mountain Training Association.

A Knowledgeable, Skillful and Approachable Teacher

“If anyone has a ‘bucket list’ or wish list; a day with Paul ‘out in the woods’ has got to be on it! You will be very hard pushed to find a better practitioner or instructor in the UK.” Mark Hotson.

“I strongly recommend doing a course with Paul. He is very patient and skilled and it was such an amazing and eye opening experience. Make the investment folks. It will be worth it!” Mandy Heard.

“Paul Kirtley was a pleasant surprise, he manages to combine an obvious wealth of knowledge and experience with a great level of enthusiasm for the subject, and a proficient and well considered teaching style with a sense of humour and nicely laid back attitude. In short, he came across as a person first and a bushcraft instructor second, I’d readily recommend Paul and Frontier Bushcraft to anyone looking for some formal tuition in bushcraft.” Stuart Dart

A Lifetime in the Outdoors

Born in Yorkshire in 1973, Paul’s interest in the nature began at an early age. His father, a keen gardener, taught Paul about many plants and he was eating the peas out the pods in the garden not long after he could walk. Paul’s family moved to Snowdonia when he was 5 years old and it is at this stage he really embraced outdoor life. Allowed to spend all day with his friends roaming the forests and hills above the Conwy Valley, Paul became confident in the woods and with finding his way by memory. Paul’s parents were keen walkers and by the age of 7 years old Paul had already walked to the summit of Snowdon by the Rhyd-Ddu Path.

When Paul was 10 years old, his family moved back to the north of England, settling in a small village. In this very rural area, Paul continued to play in the woods in his spare time. He and his close friends became interested in survival skills, spending most of their time building shelters, lighting fires and trying all manner of techniques from Paul’s copy of Lofty Wiseman’s SAS Survival Handbook. Later, they took it in turns to buy copies of Combat and Survival. Paul digested every morsel of survival information they contained.

In his mid-teens Paul took up cycling and eventually became a serious club mountain biker, taking part in various races in the North East. Paul also became a keen hill-walker with trips to the nearby Lake District. On attending Edinburgh University, Paul started exploring the mountains and glens of the Scottish Highlands. Taking advantage of his cycling and hillwalking fitness, Paul powered himself on gruelling solo backpacking trips.

It was during these trips that Paul thought back to his interest in survival skills and decided he wanted to seek out some formal training.

“I felt like I was travelling in a bubble, with my house on my back. In some respects I felt no more in touch with my environment than a moon landing. I wanted to have more connection with the environments I was passing through. I wanted to know more about how to look after myself from first principles, with less dependence on kit.”

Paul first contacted Lofty Wiseman via an old Survival Weaponry and Techniques magazine advert but received a reply that the Lofty Wiseman Survival School was no more. A while later, in 1998, Paul discovered that Ray Mears taught courses via his company Woodlore Ltd. Paul made contact and started to attend courses.

Paul started working for Ray Mears in 2003, assisting Ray and Juha Rankinen on bushcraft courses in the UK. Later he progressed to working alongside the likes of Lars Falt on overseas courses.

Paul Kirtley, Juha Rankinen and Lawrence Clark, Bushcraft Instructors

Paul Kirtley, Juha Rankinen and Lawrence Clark at the end of a tracking course. Photo: Lee Roberts.

Lars Falt, James Bath, and Paul Kirtley in Arctic Sweden on a Bushcraft Course

Lars Falt (left) with James Bath (2nd from right) and Paul Kirtley (right) in Arctic Sweden. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Ultimately, in the role of Course Director, Paul was responsible for overseeing the running of all of Woodlore’s bushcraft courses both in the UK and overseas.

Best Bushcraft Instructor 2013 Winner

Since leaving Woodlore, Paul has successfully forged his own career and has become recognised as one of the leading lights in bushcraft instruction.

Best In Bushcraft

Paul was voted Best Bushcraft Instructor in the Best in Bushcraft Awards in both 2012 and 2013.

The awards are organised by Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine and the results are decided by a public vote.

A Real World Approach To Bushcraft

Paul puts strong emphasis on real-world application of bushcraft skills and this has been cemented by travels in Europe, North America, Africa, Australia and Asia.

As well as having his own adventures, Paul divides his time between teaching bushcraft, leading expeditions, and writing a popular and well-respected bushcraft blog.

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