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Northern Forests Year Long Course

Northern Forests Year Long Course


Course Location: East Lothian

Course Time: 19:00 Friday to 12:00 Sunday

Course Duration: 1 Year

Course size: 10 Max

Course Age Range: 18

Call US: 01234 351006 (09:30-16:30 7 Days) / 07843 064114 (Out of hours)

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Northern Forests Year Long Course

The Northern Forest Skills

This is a personal development course, aimed to further improve your bushcraft skills, awakening your senses to a broad period of time when our ancestors lived in, and with, the northern forests.

Spanning a year, there are 10 set weekends, each looking at a particular skill with the emphasis being on the northern environment of the UK. These weekends will allow you to delve deeper into each particular subject area.

The course concludes with a 5 day test phase putting into practice the skills you have developed.

Module 1 - Introductory Weekend and Long Term Shelter

13th-15th September 2018

Following the necessary cutting tool safety refresh, including the safe use of your primary tool, the axe, you will be guided around the woodland to identify the resources available to you throughout the course. We then begin in earnest looking at long term shelter and its value as a communal resource.

You can expect to commence the construction of a large group shelter incorporating drystone low walls with a timber and thatched roof. During this time you will also hone skills such as bindings and hurdles.

On the peripheries you will also have the opportunity to create smaller thatched bent sapling structures.

You will also be introduced to various game preparation including bird and mammal. As well as getting into the mindset of gathering and storing material as you gather friction fire lighting material.

Module 2 - Long Term Shelter

11th-13th October

This weekend sees a continuation of the long term shelter build with the finishing touches made to the thatching. As we continue into the evening you will make benches, tipi taps, a latrine and a kitchen area. You will also construct a range of improvised and permanent cooking cranes.

The fire now becomes all important as we head into winter and so an introduction to useful fire lays in a long term shelter environment will be covered.

Module 3 - Axe and Fire

8th-10th November

We now get into the more lean season as your axe work and fire lighting skills need to be honed and developed further. Using axes you will practice the safe felling, limbing, sectioning and processing of fire wood for the longer term. We will work with you on a putting into practice the skills of the different fire lays learnt in the previous module. As we get to know the northern woods we are able to identify the different tree species in winter, both broad leaf and conifer, and if the night skies allow we will journey through the stars with folklore of the northern forests.

Module 4 - Clothing and Crafts 

24th-26th January

As we return to the woodlands in January the warmth of our woollen garments will prove to be invaluable. You will make a woollen pair of gloves, with leather outers for that hard woodland winter work- all hand stitched whilst sitting within the warmth of our round house. You will also begin construction of a woollen smock of the northern forests, and with the patterns cut you will return home to continue it construction before the next module.

Module 5 - Bow Making

6th-8th March

During this weekend you will learn how to make either a flat bow or a long bow out of an ash stave provided for you. Working through with all of the tools you would expect you will hew out the rough shape of your bow before moving on to your rustic shave horse in order to shave and file until the tiller tells you your stave is ready

Module 6 - Navigation

3rd-5th April 

Here we leave the comfort of our fixed camp and head out onto the neighbouring estates within the Lammermuir Hills. You will learn the skills required of map and compass to navigate in such terrain led by our mountain leader instructor. We will also cover natural navigation and you will have the chance to sleep out in a rock bivvy.

Module 7 Water of Life

1-3rd May

Here we head over to the Upper Tweed tributary where we have access to the coast in order to cover the topics of water safety and hygiene, and spend the remainder of the time learning how to fish and forage along the coast and river.

Module 8 - Buckskin

3rd to 5th July

Back in main camp you will learn how to skin and butcher one of the larger deer species. Following on from this you will be provided with a hair on hide and be shown how to go through the initial stages to turn this incredibly versatile material into buckskin. The weekend will be spend scraping both the grain and the membrane sides of the hide. We will also begin the initial softening of the hide.

Module 9 - Buckskin

7th-9th August

We move onto the final stages here as we continue to work on the softening of your hide, be prepared for lots of elbow work as you are taught a variety of softening techniques, before then moving on to building a smoker to preserve your finished buckskin.

On the last day you will make a small buckskin pouch for your fire lighting kit. 

Module 10 - Natures Harvest

4th-6th September

This weekend sees the beginning of the test period as you start to harvest some final resources. You will gather berries and leaves and make jams and teas. You will gather withies and willow for baskets and containers, including the fabled birch. And produce besom brooms

Test Phase


The following 5 days are then instructor mentored as you live in the woods with the clothing you have made, and the materials you have harvested. You will begin with an instructor guided session on making microliths from flint. A large mammal will be provided for you to forage from for food and equipment, including the production of bone tools.

This course can be purchased as an 18 month voucher, to book online choose "18 month voucher" from the options above and we will email the details over to you. Alternatively if you are purchasing this course as a gift we can post you a full colour gift presentation pack for just £4.25, just choose posted instead of emailed delivery option. Or contact us by phone to make the arrangements.

Call Us: 01234 351006 (09:30-16:30 7 Days) / 07843 064114 (Out of hours)

We’re happy to take course bookings and payments over the phone. Simply give us a call and we’ll place the booking for you before emailing through confirmation. Alternatively, drop us an email at info@woodland-ways.co.uk and we’ll call you back.

If your course booking is for a gift, no problem, just let us know at the time of booking and we’ll email you a personalised gift certificate or 18-month voucher to print at home. Or, for a small supplement, we’ll print out a gift pack and pop it in the post for you.