Spotlight On The International Frontiers Of Bushcraft

Man blowing bracken tinder into flame
Randy flew from Hong Kong to attend our 6-day Elementary Wilderness Bushcraft course. Photo: Paul Kirtley

The UK is seen as a hub of Bushcraft knowledge, a centre of excellence, with a number of strong, well-established bushcraft schools and experienced professional instructors. There are also many part time instructors and many, many enthusiasts and exponents of the skills we collectively call “bushcraft”.

This is an observation which has been related to me on a number of occasions by people in mainland Europe in particular as well as North America.

There is a long history of bushcraft intertwined with British exploration and colonialism, one consequence of which was Baden-Powell’s Scouting movement.  For more on this listen to my podcast discussion with Dr Lisa Fenton

Of course, much of modern bushcraft is built on traditional skills and local knowledge.

In many countries there is a vibrant reinvigoration of interest in learning traditional skills and interacting with nature in a practical, hands-on way.

Even in countries where there has remained a strong culture of outdoor life, bushcraft is taking hold as a movement in its own right.  For example, last year I was invited to speak at the inaugural Swedish Bushcraft Festival 

This January, I was a guest instructor at Stichting Bushcraft’s winter gathering in The Netherlands, one of Europe’s more densely populated countries, yet one which has a very strong bushcraft movement.

Indeed, in 2017 Stichting Bushcraft is celebrating its 10th anniversary as an organisation. 

Paul Kirtley at Dutch winter bushcraft meet
The author addressing the crowd at a fittingly cold Stichting Bushcraft winter gathering in January 2017. Photo: Gerbrand Fakkers courtesy of Stichting Bushcraft

Cross border relationships are made much stronger by meeting in person and I really appreciate being invited to events outside of the UK, both to represent British bushcraft but also to form and strengthen friendships.

We are living in an increasingly interconnected world, where it is easier than ever to find groups of like-minded people and sources of information online, both close to home and internationally.

Over the last few years, we have received many international students, attending our courses, mainly from elsewhere in Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria and Hungary but also further afield. 

I’ve recently run a block of courses through April and they have been no exception with a number of international students attending.

We also had Thijmen Apswoude from Living By Nature in the Netherlands pay us a visit while he was in the UK recently, again strengthening Frontier Bushcraft’s international relationships. He was visiting along with Steven Le Say of Axe and Paddle Bushcraft and Danny Reid of The Bushcraft Journal. Danny has previously attended some of Frontier Bushcraft’s courses and Steven, Thijmen and I write for his magazine, which has an international readership as well as contributor base. 

Danish Scouts on Frontier course
Daniel, on the right, has attended an Intermediate course with Frontier Bushcraft before. This time he brought four leaders from his Scout group in Denmark with him for our 2-day Bushcraft Essentials course. Photo: Paul Kirtley
Bert with a big axe
“Big” Bert from the Netherlands returns for yet another Frontier Bushcraft course, here enjoying the big axes as part of the Woodcrafter course. Photo: Paul Nicholls
Dutch guy in orange with an axe
Bert donned his national colours to celebrate Koningsdag (King’s Day) on April 27th. Photo: Paul Kirtley
Man making front cut for tree felling with axe
Peter travelled from Belgium for our Woodcrafter course. Photo: Paul Kirtley
Man carving a spoon
Arjun, originally from India, now living and working in the UK, had a strong background in Scouting and a love of wild camping, fostered in his home country. It was lovely to hear his perspective on what he was learning on the Elementary Wilderness Bushcraft course. Photo: Paul Kirtley
Thijmen, Steven Le Say, Paul Kirtley and Danny Reid
From left to right Thijmen from Living by Nature, Steven from Axe and Paddle Bushcraft, the author and Danny from The Bushcraft Journal during a visit to one of Frontier Bushcraft’s courses. Photo: Martin Tomlinson.

Despite the isolationism in some quarters of society, we look forward to receiving more international students this summer as well as for many years to come, in addition to visiting our bushcraft friends around the World.  

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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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2 Responses

  1. ric
    | Reply

    Great meeting you in Sweden, looking forward to this years gathering. Take care Paul

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Looking forward to catching up again Ric. We’ll be there all weekend this time 🙂

      Warm regards,


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