Survival Handbook: A Practical Guide to Woodcraft and Woodlore

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Posted on 2011-01-04. By anonymous.

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Survival Handbook: A Practical Guide to Woodcraft and Woodlore



Do you like clean air, fresh water and the wonders of the natural world? If so read on for this book is written for you. The skills contained within this book are not new, experts have been writing about them for nearly a hundred years, grouping them together under the well-suited title of 'woodcraft'. In more recent years they have somehow acquired a macho image and been renamed survival skills. There is no real harm in this but for the fact that in the process, many of the techniques have been inaccurately described. To those of us who grew up with, and still use the original skills of woodcraft, these errors are alarming if sometimes funny. But more importantly they represent the watering down and gradual disappearance of knowledge and experience which was formerly passed from father to son, mother to daughter. Were these skills to disappear altogether it would be a tragedy, for they are our birthright, a living link with our palaeolithic ancestors, that allows us to see nature with native eyes and understanding.

Today the skills are less easily acquired; many of the old masters are gone, and without the reality of living and having to survive in the wilderness, few have time to serve the long apprenticeship in the wild. However if you are in no hurry to master them the techniques which follow can be gradually learned and perfected. They are the skills of the native which, once learned, can enable you to be totally self sufficient in a natural environment. In studying them you will certainly learn much about yourself. But this is not the only value of the skills, for even in our age of space exploration the awareness, understanding and attunement to nature which is a natural by-product of their study will boost your confidence, enhance your appreciation of the fragile world we inhabit and enable you to enjoy your outdoor pursuits more fully. Like suddenly taking off a blindfold you will be dazzled by the view; the plants and animals around you will become more familiar, useful and meaningful. All of the skills covered in the following pages are described from practical experience. In choosing which skills to include I have described those techniques which can be most easily self taught, and wherever possible have included alternatives. Whilst this means inevitably that I have described the techniques I most often employ myself, I must stress that these are not the only ways to do things; hopefully you will gradually evolve your own techniques.

The aim is to describe the methods by which you can find natural alternatives to modern outdoors equipment, and by so doing enhance your perception of nature. Since I began my own study of these techniques my view of the natural world has radically altered: the grass is like a carpet and the sky a ceiling; many fears have evaporated allowing deeper enjoyment, and on those few occasions each year when I 'go walk about' and rely solely upon my woodcraft abilities and nature's gifts, the feeling of refreshed wholeness and connection with wild things is indescribable. Even when climbing or backpacking, woodcraft skills cannot be turned off and you will find yourself watching woodpeckers and magnificent birds of prey from crag tops or, supplementing your prepackaged 'trail mix' with fresh wild delights. Recently a youngster I was teaching said, 'you would be alright if you lost your rucksack and all your gear wouldn't you?' He had hit the nail on the head. When you understand nature and know how to procure your needs from her gifts there is little to fear and everything to enjoy.

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