On the 26th March 2010 The NIBA took a trip across the water to scotland for the Backwoods survival ‘Backwoodsman's course’. We had searched around for a Bushcraft School which offered courses that would not only suit our attitude towards Wilderness living, but would also tick the boxes of, not having to travel a million miles and is reasonably priced! We found it in Backwoods survival school. The School was founded by Patrick McGlinchey (who is also the Chief Instructor,) in 2002. It operates mainly from an expedition style camp just south of Glasgow about 34 miles from the port of Troon.
This consisted of us traveling on the early ferry crossing from Larne to Troon and then an onward car journey to Blantyre which is just south of Glasgow. Due to there only being 2 boats from Troon the early and the late we had a bit of time to kill. So we did what any self respecting Bushcrafter does, we went shopping for cordage and food!
We met up with Mark and Shona from the Backwoods team and the rest of the course attendees at the designated meeting point and off we went. A quick stop at Backwoods HQ where we left our vehicles and donned our outdoor clothing and rucksacks and Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho it was off to the woods we did go!
The First Night was spent as a solo under a tarp or a group under one of the Parachute teaching areas. Light faded quickly but undeterred we worked to after midnight. After a safety brief and general course introduction, Patrick and Mark took us on a tour of the outlying area pointing out things of interest like the toilet.! Then it was back to getting the fire going. We were given a short task were we had 5 mins to collect materials to make a fire with, though we were given only one match! Some got their fire lit, some didnt. Then it was off to collect fire wood for the main camp fire. It was ours for the weekend so we had to look after it, which we did like a baby!
We were up at 5.30am. Luckily the fire had still some embers so it was quickly stoked into a good blaze, and off we went with George and Mark for a Wild food walk. This was a very interesting and informative class where George not only shared his knowledge about what plants could be eaten but also about other uses for them. We even looked at some tracks and had a bit of fun dealing with getting down a steep slippery slop using the South African Abseil. Then it was back to camp for breakfast which consisted of pigeon and trout which were quickly dealt with in true bushcraft fashion as you can see by the photos. They tasted great with the addition of some freshly picked Ramsons.
After breakfast Patrick discussed cutting tool and knife care. He showed us a range of sharpening equipment and showed us the process of looking after your cutting tools. We then discussed shelter building and Patrick covered a range of different wilderness and survival shelters. Then it was off to make our own which we would then sleep in for the rest of the course.
With the shelters built to a reasonable standard to ensure a warm and dry nights sleep we set off back to the main camp. Patrick took us through a range of different fire making techniques and showed us a range of different tools for creating fire. This included fire by friction, flint and steel, iron pyrites, and even chemical fire lighting. he then gave us a demonstration of the bow drill fire by friction method after which we set about making our own bow drill sets. After a lot of carving and sawing, blowing and fanning cursing and swearing with our bow drills, it was time for dinner. Two hares, 3 rabbits, 2 ducks and 2 pheasants lay awaiting skillful preparation into kebabs.
With full stomachs we enjoyed the rest of the evening chatting around the fire this included a few disjointed stories and a lot of Irish jokes! Due to the large celtic contingent there was a little banter against our English friends which they seemed to take in good spirits. Then it was off to bed in our shelters looking forward to a good nights sleep!
The next day we broke camp and set off for some practice in river crossing. this was done as singles and as a group. It was cold, we were soaked, but it was thoroughly great experience. There was just time to pour the water out of our boots before we set off again in the direction of Backwoods H.Q. there we received a welcoming spread of tea, cake and biccies before Patrick invited us into his Bushcraft Alladins cave for a course closing chat. Certificates were handed out and we said our farewells to the other members of the course and to Patrick George, Mark and Shona for a great course and their wonderful hospitality.
On Behalf of the NIBA i would like to say a big thank you to the Backwoods team for such a thoroughly enjoyable and in-depth course. If you are considering attending a Bushcraft course why not check out ‘Backwoods survival School’ you will find their details on the links page of our website www.bushcraftni.com.