Wilderness Gathering 2014

I am told that if you keep doing the same thing each year, such as going to the same holiday destination, that time will seem to speed up as you get older. I agree with that to a point but as far as I’m concerned it’s what you get up to at your favourite destination that’s important.

I missed the very first Wilderness Gathering but have been to all the rest since and to combat that sense of time passing quickly I make sure I do something new each time. This year my focus was on the art of filming (there are five short videos in this blog post).

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The Wilderness Gathering and the Coastal Survival Crew

For the third year I helped out Fraser from Coastal Survival, mostly in the role of cameraman for him (filming has been my ‘learn’ for this year) but occasionally doing some one-to-one instruction on making fishing spears and nets. Also in the team was fellow Scot, Steve, and new to the team Leo and Max.

The Gathering is also a time for me to catch up with old friends, such as the selection pictured here: Phil from Badger Bushcraft, JP and Pablo from Woodlife Trails, Pete, Martin (in the Billy the Bushcrafter mask) and Mark from G-Outdoors (there are quite a few more friends pictured later). Also it is a great time to meet new friends such as Phil’s partner Charlie.

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Meeting old friends and new friends

Over all the days there were plenty of workshops going on but due to helping Fraser out I did not spend any great time at one workshop. In a way it was great to flit from class to class and grab a snapshot from as many as I could. Below you can see Will Lord expertly knapping, Steve and Paul from the Bushcraft Magazine giving some great demonstrations on the stage and I even managed to catch one axe in flight.

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Workshops and demonstrations aplenty

One of the things I like about the Wilderness Gathering is all the art you can see in all its different forms, from the grass mat made in a day to the beautifully crafted kayak made by Patrick from Backwoods Bushcraft.

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Wonderful art and craft

Once each day’s crowds had gone home it was time to tidy up, cook tea and relax. The stage was well attended this year with different acts and it was good to hear the music from most of the site.

I slept up in the main car park in my hammock suspended from my own home-made freestanding hammock stand. I packed it this year as I turned up a bit late and knew there would be no space left in the woods.

As usual I brought one of my Scandinavian candles along and managed to get one picture showing a couple of great fire faces.

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Evening Time

On my wanderings I found that if you were patient enough you could get some great shots of some of the best bushcrafters and woodland workers practising their different arts. In these pictures you can see Peter Whiteman carving a yew bow, Ben Orford effortlessly creating a spatula, Jason Sears perfectly demonstrating the art of making cordage by rolling it on his thigh (I have never mastered this) and Jon Mac showing the art of chip carving.

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Masters at Work

Fast becoming a regular feature at the Wilderness Gathering is the Bowdrill World Championship challenge and this year it was run by Phil Brown of Badger Bushcraft. The challenge is to light a fire using a bowdrill set as quickly as possible. I have entered this on a number of occasions. My quickest time ever from start to flame is 1 minute 13 seconds, but sadly not this year. The best I could do after four attemps was 2 minutes and 6 seconds. JP won this year with a time of 1 minute 20 seconds.

Running alongside all this competitive spirit was Jason teaching people all weekend how to use the bowdrill.

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Bowdrill fun

So the main job for me on the weekend was to take pictures of all the activities Coastal Survival got up to. I was very happy to do this as Fraser is a good friend of mine and I am continually learning from him.

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Fishing Spear with Coastal Survival

The video goes into more detail on how you make one of these very simple but effective spears for fishing.

Fraser has spent time over the winter and summer developing his own knife for use in the coastal environment. It is still in its development stage but I was very impressed with its versatility and particularly liked the rubber handled model.

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Coastal Survival Coast Hunter Knife

I put together a short video showing it in use over the weekend.

As usual the net-making classes proved very popular and Fraser and the rest of the crew ran a number of classes on making a pocket gill net and a full-sized gill net. The kids particularly liked making the pocket version.

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Net making with Coastal Survival

The video is not a step by step guide to making nets but it will give you a feel for their construction.

A very popular class that Fraser ran was his cold smoker class. The device was set up in front of the stand all weekend and we smoked some wood pigeon in it.

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Cold Smoker with Coastal Survival

Have a look at the video and see how easy it would be to make one for yourself.

A few other snippets from the weekend: Theresa Kamper in the top right picture (below) is an expert in a lot of primitive crafts but particularly in different types of leather that primitive cultures would have used and is currently finalising her PhD in the subject.

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Moments in Time

All in all I had a great weekend working hard and catching up with old friends like Sonni and Angela from Beneath the Stars Leatherworking and Dave Budd our resident expert blacksmith, and trying out new skills like dowsing with Hans.

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More Moments in Time

At some stage Fraser said he had been given a canoe to take away as a gift. I initially thought he was pulling my leg but it turned out to be true. I had to turn around his front passenger seat so that we could get the thing into his van but after a bit of huffing and puffing we managed it.

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The Coastal Survival Tardis

I had a fantastic weekend at the Wilderness Gathering and I was particularly happy that the filming worked out so well.

Here is my last video, with shots from as much of the weekend as I could cram in.

See you there next year hopefully.

George

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