Matt’s Experience on a Bushcraft Walk in the Woods

A trail through verdant woods.
It's always great to explore. Learning to view the woods from the perspective of bushcraft provides a whole new insight. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

I recently led a Bushcraft Walk in the Woods. For me it was a fun and engaging day with a really nice group of people. We covered lots during the course of the walk and I thoroughly enjoyed leading it. Matt Batham was one of the group and he has kindly forwarded me the following feedback. I thought I would share it as Matt has done a very good job of capturing the ethos and feel of these days out in the woods.

Over to Matt:

“Hi Paul (and Team),

As promised some time ago, I have drafted some feedback about the ‘Bushcraft Walk in the Woods’ with Paul.

I arrived at the prescribed meeting point early and was greeted by Paul. As other members of the group arrived, we were invited to sit with each other before Paul gave an introduction about himself and the plan for the day. The group then introduced themselves to each other and Paul asked us to describe our aims for the day. This was the first instance of Paul taking time to tailor the delivery of the experience each individual’s aspirations of the day – one of Paul’s great strengths.

Before we knew it, we were off on our gentle stroll through the woods. Paul was off to a great start by booking some sunny weather for the day! As we wandered Paul divulged his expert knowledge about trees, plants and the fauna living in the woods. He pointed out signs of deer, at which point he introduced elements of tracking; something he would demonstrate later in the day. I was staggered by the amount of flora that had a use or that we should avoid in such a relatively small area. A reasonable sized notebook, pencil and camera are highly recommended! Paul also explained the seasonal and annual variations to plants and trees before grasping the nettle and demonstrating the making of nettle cordage. The group were not so keen to have a go at this one!

Lunch time was another opportunity for Paul to chat with the group. This was a theme that lasted all day as Paul maintained a friendly but professional feel to his delivery. At this point, Paul introduced some natural navigation by using the sun, a stick and a couple of markers.

Paul then set a couple of tracks and asked us to follow them. Unwittingly, we all began using the principles of tracking without being taught. These principles were then explained, after we had experienced them first hand. This is another very good aspect of Paul’s teaching. Each concept is first delivered by a practical demonstration. This gave us a structure on which we could hang our new knowledge and skills.

We moved off after our tracking introduction to learn more about trees and plants. Paul showed us how we could differentiate between tree species from a distance; a useful skill when hunting for resources. We then came across a friendly horse that was as intent on Paul’s teaching as we were.

From this point Paul introduced fire lighting as a concept before taking us to an area to have a go. Paul made the delivery of this demonstration look effortless as one by one, examples and pieces of equipment were pulled from his rucksack. We were given the opportunity to try a hand drill, the bow drill technique and the use of a fire stick. We were encouraged to keep trying and not let a disappointment stop us from accomplishing a task or endeavour. This is a good lesson to learn for the outdoors and indeed day-to-day life.

Firelighting on a Bushcraft Walk in the Woods
Getting to grips with lighting various natural materials with a Fireflash. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

We then set off for the last time, heading back to the start point. More plants were introduced, including one which smelt and tasted of a used and somewhat musty dishcloth! Paul utilised this time to chat to everyone and find out what they intended to do with their new found knowledge. I must say that, from my point of view, Paul did deliver on his promise to deliver on each person’s requests gathered at the start of the day. He even went further and recommended a number of books and further activities for my progression towards a national governing body award. The day ended with a de-brief at the start point. Paul handed out his contact cards and welcomed any further questions from us. He kindly offered to send us all details and lists of what we had covered during the day, by email. We covered a wide range of topics and skills, a lot more than I imagined we would have.

Blowing a bundle of bark fibres into flame.
A member of the group blowing a bundle of bark fibres into flame. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

I highly recommend spending time with Paul on one of his courses. This course in particular would be of interest to anyone who wants to improve the knowledge base of what can be found and done in the woods. Anyone with a general interest or specific goal would find this day greatly beneficial as Paul has shown he can cover your area of interest. I came away from the experience abundant with enthusiasm, full of knowledge and with a great respect for Paul and his teaching methods. You actually don’t notice you are learning. This is the sign of a great teacher, and a person who is in tune with those people around them. The day was great value for money, enjoyable, relaxed and friendly.

Thanks Paul, I’m looking forward to the next course with you and your team.

All the best,

Frontier Bushcraft runs Bushcraft days throughout the spring, summer and autumn. For more details see our bushcraft courses page.

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Paul Kirtley is Founder and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog. He is the author of Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft, as well as having contributed to several other books. Paul has been involved in teaching bushcraft since 2003. He is also a Canoe Leader, British Canoeing Level 3 Canoe Coach and UK Summer Mountain Leader.

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6 Responses

  1. Duncan Stillwell
    | Reply

    What an outstanding review, a lot of thought put into that and informative too, makes one more enthusiastic about going on the courses, Nice one Matt.
    If there was a “Like” button here we could click…LoL

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Duncan

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I really appreciated the time and effort Matt put into writing his review.

      I’ll look into adding ‘like’ and other sharing/bookmarking buttons onto these blog posts. Thanks for the suggestion Duncan.

      All the best


    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Duncan

      Facebook ‘like’, re-tweet, Google +1 and StumbleUpon buttons added!

      Any other sharing or social bookmarking buttons you’d like to see?



  2. Steve Harral
    | Reply

    That’s a great write up and one that’s well deserved Paul.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Thanks for your kind words Steve. Even if I’m with a group for only one day, I do as much as I can to tailor it to them and make it special and memorable.

      All the best


  3. Matt Hartwick
    | Reply

    thanks for sharing Matt’s perception of the course. Matt, much thanks for the review. I am an ocean away and am only able to learn from this resource remotely, however the review further cements the subject matter expertise of the instructor.
    Many Regards,

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