Frontier’s Wet Weekend…

Ben above rapids with throw bag at the ready
Ben with throw line at the ready. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

One of the greatest hazards in the outdoors is water.

You can be near powerful water when hiking through wild country and you may even have to cross rivers. When you make journeys by canoe an understanding of the power of water is paramount.

At Frontier Bushcraft we are committed to the highest standards of safety – both for our clients and our staff.

One of the areas of safety training we undertake is white water safety and rescue.

In what was a sunny yet chilly couple of days in North Wales, some of the Frontier Bushcraft team recently undertook a comprehensive and no-nonsense course with Ray Goodwin.

We began with techniques for crossing or exiting moving water, progressing through various methods for rescuing individuals from white water.

Ben swimming jet of water
Striking out across a jet of moving water. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Crossing river with flow on a diagonal line
Ben crossing river on diagonal line using the flow of water to propel him. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Swimmer receives throw line
James receives a throw line in the middle of the rapids. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Paul grabbing Ben during livebait rescue
Paul grabbing Ben in whitewater. Photo: Ray Goodwin.
Frontier Team ready for livebait rescue
The Frontier Bushcraft team ready for a livebait rescue. Photo: Ray Goodwin.

Given Frontier Bushcraft’s activities in canoeing and canoe expeditions, we also undertook moving water training specific to open boats – rescuing both paddlers and their craft.

Ben uprighting overturned canoe
Uprighting a canoe after a capsize. Photo: Paul Kirtley.
Ray Goodwin setting up z-drag pulley system
Ray Goodwin setting up z-drag pulley system. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Not only was it great to be learning and refreshing skills, this type of training also reinforces more general attitudes towards risk assessment, incident management and communication. Frontier Bushcraft expects of its outdoor leaders quick thinking and decisive action when required. Planning, risk assessment, safety, first-aid and related training therefore form a central part of our staff education programme.

Given the serious nature of the course and no shortage of cold water, frosty mornings, heavy rapids and large rocks, we all thoroughly enjoyed spending the best part of two days up to our necks in the River Dee. Despite Ben’s curiosity about stoppers causing Ray to suggest we should all experience one first-hand, the weekend’s training proved to further cement our team spirit.

Frontier Bushcraft team undertaking rescue scenario
James and Ben undertaking a rescue scenario. Photo: Ray Goodwin.


The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Latest posts by Paul Kirtley (see all)

6 Responses

  1. Phil
    | Reply

    All round good stuff! – Must say I laughed when I noticed it was generally Ben in the water, in the pictures! Can see it now – “Go on Ben, in you get, I mean, you’re wet already!”

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Haha 🙂 We spent most of the course in and out of the water and certainly all had our fair share of being rescued. I had the camera and took most of the photos so it only appears that we spent the whole weekend throwing Ben in the river. If only that had been the case….

  2. Alan Pinnington
    | Reply

    Nice blog of a very good and well run course. Enjoyed working and learning with you all at the weekend. Thanks again Alan.

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Alan

      Thanks for your comment. It was really good to finally meet you (Ray had said good things :o) ). We all enjoyed doing the course alongside you and quickly felt comfortable trusting you implicitly.

      Hope to see you again at some point.

      All the best,


  3. Dan Bowkett
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,
    I just wanted to say it was a pleasure to meet you in the cafe while you were at the Dee. Forgive me if it seemed I was a little excited by meeting you but I was. I have been reading your blog and you are a great man who inspires me to spend more time out in the wilderness.

    Many thanks


    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Dan

      It was really good to meet you and chat with you too. I write my blog with the aim of helping others get more out of their time in the great outdoors and stay safe when they travel to wild and remote places. Your enthusiasm for what I’m doing certainly made me feel that I’m hitting the right notes.

      I look forward to calling in to the Riverside Cafe to say hi the next time I’m on the Dee.

      All the best,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.