On Friday we discovered that the Bushcraft Show 2016 was happening in Derbyshire, only 45 minutes away! We looked at the timetable and were soon excitedly booking tickets for the following day. Some friends from York are camping at the event for the whole weekend so we were looking forward to catching up with them too.
When we arrived, it was far bigger than I imagined. There were rows of stalls with all sorts of things to see and do. The programme and map were really handy in pointing us in the right direction for talks and demos around the site.
During my Forest School training it was explicitly pointed out that it is NOT bushcraft but does use some elements of it. Walking around the event I think this was pretty clear, however I learned so much from attending. I just avoided the animal skinning and ghillie suits!
On our first lap of the field we stopped to watch a demonstration of a bow drill. I’ve been researching this fire starting technique for my portfolio and thought it’d be good to see it in action. I was surprised by how slowly he used the drill to create so much heat. For more information on bow drills, there is a great explanation here.
There were lots of stalls selling survival and outdoors gear so we had to search around to find the best deals. I was really pleased to try out a few different types of flint and steel before buying my very own. Some of them I find really tricky so I was reluctant to buy one online without trying it first.
One of my favourite stalls was Giles Newman’s Spoon Carving. The spoons were so beautiful and I was amazed that he taught himself to carve like that in only a year and a half. I can just about whittle a stick into a point. He also sold intricate, nature themed pendants but they were a little on the pricey side for me.
Once we had got orientated, chosen some demos to watch and most importantly, figured out what was happening for lunch, we got stuck in. First up, axes and best practice. I learned about different types of axes, the jobs that they do and how to check the head shape and wood grain. He then demonstrated the correct posture for using an axe, explained why it works that way and how injuries can occur. He also shared interesting tips for when your axe won’t go through the wood and when you don’t have a block to cut against.
Whilst scoffing a fish finger sarnie, it was onto the next demonstration. This time we learned about how to plant a tree and which types of wood are good for green woodwork. Then we got to see how you can carve a rudimentary spoon in about 10 minutes. He started with an axe to chop the wood in half and then into a thin plank. The axe was also used to cut the handle by cutting in a stopping point (a skill I already know, hooray!). He then advised to switch to a knife to make the spoon smoother. Finally, to create the dip in the spoon, he used a spoon carving crook. Interestingly he used a right handed one and a left handed one so that he followed the grain of the wood.
Our afternoon was spent listening to some of the specialist speakers. Ray Mears was obviously incredibly popular and tickets were needed to sit in the tent with him. We lounged on the grass outside and watched the very orange video of him instead. After that we finished our day with a talk about the hunter gatherer way with Ffyona Campbell. She is really passionate about wild food and our place in the ecosystem. It was a much more personal experience with the participants sat in a circle, listening to her stories.
Now we are on the look out for more events near us that we can go to. After chatting to people on different stalls we’ve heard of a few already that we’re interested in! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates, tips and activity ideas.