Making fire in the rain | My experience at Howl Bushcraft

Howl Bushcraft

Recently, I proclaimed that I enjoy nature. I made this proclamation after visiting some more natural surroundings last year, such as the Atlas Mountains and the Andalusian hills. For Christmas, I asked my mom to gift me the book Walden by Henry Thoreau. I only wanted this book, because I was irked that I couldn’t answer the following question as a philosophy graduate. ‘Why is existentialism still a thing, but does nobody care about transcendentalism anymore?’ And somehow I thought Walden contained some answers. (It did, but so did Google.) My mother, however, thought that my Christmas wish contained a longing for a simpler life in nature. Or something like that. (For those who don’t know Walden, it is a semi-autobiographical book about living simply in nature.)

So my mom decided to give my boyfriend and I a day course in bushcrafting. Bushcrafting is the art of using ‘wilderness skills’ that allow you to survive – someone on Wikipedia would say thrive – in nature. Or something like that. I knew nothing about the art of bushcraft before I received this present. And honestly, I wasn’t too keen on spending a day pretending to live like a cavewoman, when I knew full well that there was electricity and plumbing only a few kilometres from the basecamp. I guess my love for nature was more conceptual than practical.

How bushcraft

So it was with a healthy dose of reluctance that I rocked up at the parking lot of Howl Bushcraft a few weeks ago. It was a wet and chilly February morning that lent itself much better to staying in bed than being outdoors. After a little wait on the parking lot, we were greeted by our trainer for the day. Immediately, you could tell my boyfriend and I didn’t take this whole thing very seriously. While our trainer was decked out in navy green outdoor clothing and the other participants all looked ready for a long hike, my boyfriend and I showed up with an M&S shopping bag that contained our stuff for the day. At that moment the healthy amount of reluctance turned into an unhealthy amount.

But as soon as we started the course, I decided to give this day an honest go. I got cracking with making a shelter out of only sticks and leaves. I learned how to carve sticks into spears (well, pegs technically). I tied some fancy boy/girl scout knots. And I made fire from scratch for the first time in my life. In the rain, I might add. After a full day of learning the ropes of outdoor living, I really feel like I could survive in the British countryside for a night. To the Mount Everest climbers of the world this might not sound impressive, but to me it was a massive accomplishment.

Howl bushcraft

More than a feeling of accomplishment, I left that day with a huge sense of gratitude. Because that day happened to turn into one of the best days I have had in a long time. Better than any meditation session, the course really managed to pull me into the present. As this whole ‘wildernessing’ was so new to me, I was either intensely listening or intensely doing at all times. There was no time for troubling thoughts. By the end of the day, my fingers were frozen, but my heart was glowing from the roaring fire of happiness that had grown inside me while tending to the real-life fire in front of me. Of course, it helped that the trainer of Howl Bushcraft and his assistant could not have been kinder and were so passionate about their craft that I couldn’t help but get sucked into the whole experience.   

I left the day not only with a new set of skills but also with a renewed zest for life. I cannot wait to go back into the natural environment. This time, with slightly less of a ‘pretty little princess’ attitude.  If you have never bushcrafted and skipped the whole boy/girl scout phase as a child, I can highly recommend booking yourself onto a beginner’s course.

It is never to late to learn some self-sufficiency!

4 Comments

  1. March 1, 2019 / 4:39 pm

    hahah wauw! Wat leuk! Ik was juist meteen super enthousiast zodra ik precies begreep wat dit inhield. Het is in ieder geval heel leuk om te lezen hoe je er toch open in bent gegaan, en dat je zo’n mooie ervaring hebt gehad!
    Ik heb even gegoogeld en ze bieden dit op allerlei plekken en allerlei verschillende varianten in Nederland ook aan 😀 Ik heb een linkje opgeslagen. Bedankt voor weer een leuke tip!

    • Lizzyfied
      Author
      March 2, 2019 / 9:43 am

      Wat leuk dat je meteen bent gaan kijken naar opties in Nederland! Ik kan het inderdaad echt aanraden. Het was echt een hele mooie ervaring 🙂

    • Lizzyfied
      Author
      March 2, 2019 / 9:44 am

      Ik ben inderdaad blij dat ik er uiteindelijk zo open ben ingestapt. Bedankt voor de lieve reactie <3

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.