Paul Kirtley

Paul Kirtley is regarded as one of the UK’s leading bushcraft instructors. He has been involved in teaching bushcraft since 2003.

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.

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.

In addition to his bushcraft teaching credentials, Paul is a Canoe Leader and a Level 3 Canoe Coach under the British Canoeing awards scheme. He also holds the UK Mountain Leader Award.

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.

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.

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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