ADVENTURE | An Incredible Weekend of Teamwork, Nature & Fire With Wilderness Weekends

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Wilderness Weekends promise to add a slice of adventure to your life, and on our bushcraft weekend in Kent with mountaineering expert James Hewson, we got exactly that! Read on to find out more about our weekend adventure.

Wilderness Weekends Kent

Where did we go?

A BushCraft weekend with Mountaineering expert James Hewson
Wilderness Weekends at The Sunnyfield Campsite, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 6DJ
Number: +44 (20) 7249 2425
Email: info@wildernessweekends.com
Web: wildernessweekends.com
Price: £125 pp

Our Stay

At the crack of dawn on Saturday we rose from our sheltered home to brave the wilderness with James. After battling the wrath of the M25, we arrived in rural Kent on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far.

James from Wilderness Weekends was there to greet us along with other participants with Herman the handsome German Shepherd. We made our way to an empty field, beautifully scattered with late tulips of orange, red and blue – a pleasant surprise in the rugged farmland landscape. James very expertly lit a fire with a magnesium stick whilst we settled in and became accustomed to the area we’d call home for the weekend; A smallholding, used for camping for short periods during the year.

The facilities on site felt anything but basic and the compost toilet was an absolute delight, clean, airy and of course, eco-friendly. It was paired with an incredible shower suite made from a converted horse trailer with some fellow bush craft students even saying they preferred it to their shower at home!

Wilderness Weekends KentMaking wood shavings for the fire, a technique known as ‘feathering’

Much to everyone’s excitement, we were given our very own bush craft knife and magnesium stick for use on the course, and also to take home to allow us to continue our bush craft journey. Such a seemingly small gesture made all the difference when it came to feeling supported in our wilderness learning and was a really nice touch.

Our first lesson was feathering. Feathering is a technique used to make a feather stick (sometimes referred to as a fuzz stick), which is a length of wood, shaved to produce a cluster of thin curls that are easily ignitable. This technique, popularised by survival expert Ray Mears, was tricky at first. It required just the right amount of pressure, the correct angle, and heaps of patience to get right. Eventually we got there, with some members of camp excelling more than others!

Wilderness Weekends KentWe have fire!

We then moved on to creating matchsticks, which would be the fuel for our fires. Strength played a huge part here, along with avoiding any dangerous technique and subsequent injuries! James continued to nurture us as we honed these simple skills, offering individual advice and an abundance of patience.

When these stages were completed, we were tasked with lighting our fire with our new knife, and magnesium stick- closely coached by our bush craft master. Some took longer than others – but most of us got there with expert guidance. The feeling of achievement was incredible- we had created fire like our ancestors before us!

The afternoon was a complex mix of foraging, tree mastery and a creative mix of learning how to cook simple things, like beer-can chicken, on an open fire. We talked all night and finally settled under a tarp all together – some giggling more than others!

Wilderness Weekends KentCooking delicious freshly made bread

The morning brought bush craft challenges. The ground was damp from dew, and we were extremely tired from the chilly night. We learned how to construct a fire in poorer conditions and that patience and perseverance is key to becoming the next Ray Mears. James introduced us to the most important knots we’d need for survival and we finished our weekend off with the team task of erecting a huge tarp for shade.

The free flowing itinerary of the weekend only added to the feeling of wilderness camping, where nothing is planned, but everything is available. James explained that we’d get what we wanted from the weekend, with specific focus on what we wanted to learn. He was full of exciting tales. From spending years walking across Africa, to stories of his romantic tarped garden wedding, we learned much more than outdoor skills from our bush craft master. James also set up a WhatsApp group for our bush craft team to allow us to follow up with any further questions we had on survival techniques.

Nothing could have prepared us for the sheer amount of enjoyment we gained from helping each other to learn, telling stories around a campfire we had made, and sharing laughs over freshly made bread.

We will all take away the lessons we learned, and reunite hopefully in the future for another Wilderness Weekend with the talented James.

Wilderness Weekends KentLearning how to set up hammocks correctly

The Verdict?

Well worth the cost for an experience that will push you out of your comfort zone, teach you what humankind has long forgotten, and really change your life for the better. We couldn’t recommend this experience enough and we will be going back to do more with Wilderness Weekends!

Highlights

  • The freedom to learn what we wanted to learn from James
  • Eating incredible food we had all foraged and prepared as a team
  • Getting our own specialised equipment to take away
  • The teamwork aspect with our amazing fellow survivalists Julie, Teresa, Claudia and Andrew
  • And of course, lighting a fire for the first time using only a knife and some magnesium!

Wilderness Weekends Kent

Thank you to Wilderness Weekends who invited us to stay.