10 Things to do in Lock Down

When you suddenly find yourself at home, with an expanse of time ahead of you, it can be a little daunting to think of ways to fill the time and keep your mind off the world outside.  Netflix and the like are alright, so I’m told, but let’s face it the TV is no replacement for the Bushcraft itch that just has to be scratched.  Here are ten ideas to help you fill your time, expand your knowledge and plan for more normal times when getting out there becomes an option.

  • Kit maintenance – it’s easy to let kit fall into less than ideal conditions if it got stashed away with the thought it would be used again very soon.  Now’s the time to make sure all of your kit is in tip-top condition.  When did you last treat the handles of your axes?  Are all your knives and tools shave sharp and oiled for storage?  Do any buttons need re-sewing or zips need attention on clothing?  Has all the leather been treated to a good polish to keep it supple?  Is now a good time to finally get round to washing your sleeping bag or re-waterproofing coats, tents or tarps?
  • Read a book – if you’re anything like me you’ll have a large number of books on all sorts of topics.  What we often don’t like to admit is that we also have a large number of books that, as yet, we haven’t finished or even started.  It’s just so easy to buy that new book that’s just come out or one that’s been recommended to you.  Make yourself a brew, sit in the garden or in your favourite chair and get started on that reading pile.
  • Tarp configurations – whenever I go to the woods we run our courses in the instructors have their favourite spots and because time is often limited it’s easier to just setup your system in ways that are quick or familiar.  If you’ve got a garden or some outside space why not spend some time experimenting with different tarp configurations.  How could you set it up to act like an enclosed tent?  Or perhaps lean-to with groundsheet?  Styles for warm nights or strong winds.  With more tie out points than you can shake your hank of paracord at why not have at it to see what you can create to make your next camp a little more exciting.
  • Eat out – restaurants aren’t an option at the moment but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat out.  Dust off the barbecue, re-kindle the fire pit or just get the camp stove out from the back of the garage and cook tonights meal in the garden or on the driveway.  Maybe combine this with your tarp experiments to make it feel like you’ve got away from it all.
  • Sleep out – bushcraft is all about being in nature so four walls can be a bit restricting after a while.  Why not set up camp for a night or two in your garden or if you’ve not got an outside space re-live your youth and make camp indoors using the clothes horse, loads of  blankets, clothes pegs and the dining chairs… surely that wasn’t just my childhood?
  • Make – I love making kit, stuff that gets really used when I’m out.  The best bit is that it can be as simple or adventurous as you like depending on your skill level or interests.  Carve a spoon, make or modify some clothing, use your camping stove to make some charcloth outside (I must stress the outside bit ).  Whatever it is just enjoy the experience of knowing what you make is completely unique to you and will be put to good use on future adventures.

  • Practice – skills can easily get rusty so have a think about things you’ve not tried in a while.  Are your friction fire skills getting left behind?  Why not go for an ember every day.  When did you last light birch bark with a ferro rod?  Can you tie an Evenk hitch with your eyes closed?  Practice, practice, practice – it’s never wasted time.
  • Forage – you’re allowed to get out and about for exercise once a day so turn your walk into a foraging experience.  Go armed with a good identification book and really take notice of everything you pass.  Make sure you get your ID 100% accurate and that you have permission to collect and do it responsibly without causing damage or stripping an area bare.  Challenge yourself to gather components for a salad, make a herbal tea or simply just document what you find to gain a better picture of what’s around you.
  • Learn – practicing is certainly worthwhile but so is pushing the boundaries.  They say it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something.  We’ll be able to get out and about normally before then but why not take a few hours to start on the journey towards learning a new skill.  Whether it’s sewing, carving, knots, plant ID, natural navigation or whatever else you choose it will be time well spent and expand your knowledge to enhance your future trips.
  • Plan a trip – adventures and expeditions are things to really look forward to but they all have to start somewhere – the back of a beer mat whilst in the pub isn’t an option just now but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan.  Near or far, one night or several isn’t important just take some time to think of a place you’ve always wanted to tick off and set to with the planning.  Draw up a kit list, research the area, get on forums and make connections with those that have been.  It might seem like a pipe dream at the moment but I’ve always found that if you really plan something the chances substantially increase of it happening one day.
Summiting Mount Risnjak- Croatia

There will be many blogs coming along to fuel some ideas in more detail but for now stay safe, stay sane and, if you can, stay at home and we’ll see you in the woods soon enough.

Barry Hammick- Instructor and Woodland Wayer Alumni


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