Interview With Ben Fogle

An admission that you are interviewing Ben Fogle should come with a caution, especially if you work in the GO Activities headquarters.

Ben Fogle flusters the office.

Women started suggesting questions about marriage.

“He already has a wife.”

“Is he a mormon?”

“No.”

“But could he be?”

“I refuse to answer that.”

Men, meanwhile wanted to know where he got the literal balls to go naked in the sea, to fly all over the world doing all these fantastic adventures and to still have Kate Humble’s personal number in his mobile…

Back from California on a very stop gap trip home, I managed to grab Ben for a quick chat  after Daybreak and before his next flight before he headed off to the Checz Republic to fly a fighter jet, to ask him all about his life, how he got into the outdoors as a child, and what GO Activities adventures he could see himself doing.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Whereabouts are you now and what have you been up to? 

Not a problem. I’ve just got back from California where I have been recently for a film on a ‘Year of Adventure’ taking some massive challenges on which has been really great fun. Climbing the tallest trees, a 24 hour mountain bike race, diving between tectonic plates in Iceland, solo skydiving, paragliding.. It’s been brilliant.  I’ve also been diving with crocodiles in Botswana which has been great.

Sounds amazing! So you have been all over the world with your job since Castaway back in 2000. Kaiteur Falls, Kilimanjaro in Uganda, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Sahara the Arctic Circle the Andes, Chile to name but a few places.  What are you favourite place in the UK?

I am a huge fan of the National Parks so I love the lakes, the peaks, the Dales, Brecon Beacons, although we are a real coastal family so we love North Devon, and South Cornwall too.

You are a President of the campaign for National parks. We recently did a blog on Mosaic and how the National Parks seem inaccessible if you haven’t been brought up with them. Did you grow up going to the National Parks and why did you get involved with this campaign in particular?

They asked me to take the president role and it is something I am extremely proud of and I feel really passionate about. Mosaic is so important because it is an important campaign for anyone who loves the national parks. We have to encourage people to visit and enjoy them so that they are preserved and maintained, so it is brilliant that Mosaic is encouraging access.

Did you visit the National Parks often as a child and where you always ‘outdoorsy’?

In my book the Accidental Adventurer I go right back to my early childhood and in truth, I wasn’t really keen on the outdoors to start with, at least camping. I remember taking a trip with my Dad Bruce with my best friend Toby when I was 13 and we went to Algonquin Park in East Canada, which is a national park about the size of Wales, and we canoed through it, which was when it came to life for me and I loved it!

We are all aware of the problems with childhood obesity and the importance of being active, what are your thoughts on it?

I think that a sense of adventure is so important in children and the best way to do this is within the schools with field trips. I remember going to field trips to Dorset and seeing the costal landscapes as a child, camping and it really brought the outdoors to life for me.

I think that our government focuses far to much on academic achievements and if I was a politician I would be trying to really get children active, which is the route I carved a career out of.  Health and Safety is also something that gets in the way, but when times are harder economically, it really is a great time to get children involved in these activities.

People might also have seen you rowing 3000 miles, doing the Marathon De Sables the London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half marathon or having icicles dangle off your nose during your Arctic trip with James Cracknell.  What challenges have been your hardest, either physically or mentally?

I’m not a natural climber, so when I was up Casetlon Rock in Utah with a 500m sheer pinnacle drop, that was a little challenging. As well as that, the Moab 24 hour race was also about endurance and was hard going, physically.

Is there anything you veto or won’t do?

I love most things, ocean diving, sailing, swimming, kayaking, cycling, hiking, skiing- but things like a base jump or even a bungee I wouldn’t do. They aren’t really my thing I’m afraid!

GO Activities offers things like kayaking, the aforementioned bungee, trike trips, falconry days, ghyll scrambling, caving days- and these are great for stag dos. We wondered what your stag do was like before you married Marina a few years back?

I never had one! I know, that does sound quite sad doesn’t it? We joke that I have a raincheck on it. It was 5 years ago but I was filming right up to before the wedding- part of the sad life of a traveller! Maybe one day..

Well feel free to book through GO Activities.  We promise to avoid the bungee ropes! What about your children? Are they growing up with a sense of adventure?

Well my boy is, he seems confident and happy outdoors, but then he’s young enough that he’s happy in a city or the country! My daughter is a little too young to be active and get a sense of it yet but we are naturally an active family, we get out the park everyday and we are always out walking. I don’t want to be a pushy parent though so I will let them draw their own conclusions on it…

So what’s next on the agenda for you now?

Well after this I’m off to the Czech Republic to fly a fighter jet, which should be good, and then in the future I will be giving talks on my new book. Soon you can see my new show Diving with Crocodiles which was filmed in the Northern Territory of Botswana and was very scary, these are big 10m long beasts!

And what about your ambassador work with the WWE and Tusk?

Yes I have some projects in the pipeline with them, and also some more stuff with the BBC, but it’s all a bit secret for now I’m afraid!

And finally – what’s your number one must have piece of gear to take with you as an adventurer?

Definitely my Leatherman, the multi tool, which always comes in handy.

You can buy Ben’s book, The Accidental Adventurer via Benfogle.com today.

Elaine


Things to see in Yorkshire

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Yorkshire is the home to GO Activities and is a beautiful place to try a variety of activities. You can try a variety of sports, from climbing and kayaking on the beautiful lakes, or you can take a walk in the Peaks if you want to see some of the lovely sights from the peak of a hill.

The steel city, once renowned for its steel making factories is now famed for its beautiful parks, cafes and shops- of course, Sheffield. Another urban city is Leeds, or Bradford, where you can shop and peruse museums like Bradford’s Media museum or the Hepworth Art Gallery. Sheffield is close to green areas like Rother Valley, the Peak district which includes small, quaint villages like Bakewell, Hope and Castleton.

If you are in the Peaks why not go caving in caves like White Scar or Ingleborough. A trained guide can take you on a special tour if you have never been before, working on progressively difficult routes from the simplest descents. Another option is to walk over the Peaks, take a bike ride- or even see the skies from a microlight, helicopter or a hot air balloon.

For climbers, Yorkshire has some of the best stones to climb. You can head north to Almscliff in North Yorkshire, or try the ‘dark’ rocks of the Peaks.
You can’t write about Yorkshire without mentioning The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. The moors has 1,400 accessible walking routes and is also a stone’s throw from the seaside coastal town of Whitby, famous for its links to Dracula.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has a variety of cliffs, ideal for climbing, as well as coves and caves that you can discover the underneath of. This is definitely an ideal place for walkers though, with the three peaks of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough being the ideal place to put your walking boots through their paces, all followed by a trip to the Northern towns like Skipton and Harrogate.

These are just a few ideas for your next trip to Yorkshire. What are your favourite places in the area?

The Basics Of Fishing

If you haven’t been fishing before, this blog should make the subject clearer.

Try Fishing This Season

Why not try fishing this season?

What types of fishing are there?

1. General coarse fishing – which is based in lakes, pools, rivers and streams
2. Carp fishing -which is generally done in still waters, lakes and pools.
3. Fly fishing -where anglers use bait mimicking flies in order to catch trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, migratory sea trout and salmon.
4. Sea fishing- which takes place on charter boats
5. Boat fishing -which takes place inshore, in deep waters or wrecks

How to start fishing

Instead of going alone and needing a license, you can always take a guided class. This is a good idea for experienced anglers as well as beginners, and can last from a few hours to a full day. A class can be for just one student or for a group, and prices may vary depending on the extent of your experience.
Click here to see our fishing lessons across the UK.

What to buy before you start fishing:

1. Rod or a pole.

Most beginner kits are based around a rod and pole.
Rod types vary from Ultra light and light, to medium, medium heavy and heavy. Heavy rods are ideal for big fish, whilst light rods are ideal for lighter fish.

2. A reel

Many beginner rods do come with reels. Reels are made in four basic categories: bait casting, spinning, spin casting, and fly and spinning are the easiest for beginners to use.

3. Line

To choose the right line you need to know what sort of fish you are attempting to catch. A small carp can be caught on a lighter line and heavier fish needs a heavier line. However, lines can hold much more than their own weight. If you buy a beginners reel, it is likely to have been prefilled with a monofilament so you won’t need to buy a line.

4.Hooks

Hooks come in all different sizes, and like the lines, these should be heavier, in line with the potential fish’s weight

6. Bait is placed on your line- usually onto a swivel or leader which allows bait to be easily changed. You should ensure that your hook is embedded deep into the bait so it is not visible.

Types of Bait

There are a variety of types of bait, from live, to prepared, and artificial bait.
Live bait includes worms, flys and crickets, and this can be easily purchased from tackle stores. Perch are keen on live bait, in general. If you are fishing smaller fish, remember to use a small bit of live bait, or to use only a section. This bait is best put onto a ‘bobber’ so it floats, as opposed to the easier casting of an artificial lure.

Prepared bait comes in pots or packages and includes special corns, balls, bombs and flavoured pieces ideal for storing at home. Prepared items like groundbait can be ‘catapulted’ into the water to create a feeding frenzy. Carp tend to be particularly interested in prepared bait.

Artificial Bait is even easier to be stored and is usually made from plastic or feather in the shapes or live animals. This includes jigs- which bounce along the water, plugs- that imitate small fish, poppers that imitate twitching bugs, spoons, which look like minnows, and spinners, which use a propeller to vibrate along the water.

So there you have it, a basic list on what you need to start fishing- have you been fishing yet? What has been your biggest catch in the UK?

10 Easter Ideas For Bored Kids

If Easter has come around sooner than expected, don’t worry. The weather is mostly nice, but more importantly, there are plenty of outdoor activities that kids can get involved in safely.

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1. Easter egg hunts – Via Geocache

Mark down a location’s co-ordinates using Google and hide an egg there. Allow your kids, under supervision to use your smart phone or GPS device to locate the easter eggs, teaching them about navigation- and resulting in them being a bit worn out (until they consume the chocolate.)

2. Archery

If you want your kids to learn a great skill and for them to have some fun as well, then an archery course is an ideal day out. Get kids trying their hand at Robin Hood skills with a bow and arrow, with expert guidance from a tutor who can help them perfect their aim.

3. Swimming

Swimming pools are brilliant for kids who need to get rid of their energy and to cool down in the hot sun. Why don’t you check your local council’s website to find your nearest pool, and even book in for lessons if your children haven’t learnt yet.

4. Zorbing

If your kids are old enough and deserve a treat, then they will be thrilled with zorbing or water walking. This fantastic sport can help them with balance on the water, but really, it’s just a bit of fun!

5. Multi Activity Days/ Activity Centres

For young and old kids in the same family, choosing activities can be hard. We love Activity centres at GO Activities because they can offer something for mum, Dad, and kids alike. With high ropes swings, zip lines and more, these multi activity courses can also offer quad biking, clay pigeon shooting or kayaking, dependent on location.

6. Indoor Climbing

If the sun stops shining, rain needn’t stop play with a day on an indoor climbing wall. Book in and an instructor can show your kids the ropes, literally, so they can tire themselves out and have a really good go at climbing or bouldering.

7. Ball Games

If you have a local park, there’s nothing better than a few ball games, a picnic and a walk around the local area. Go online to see local walks around you – you can even grab the kid’s bikes and take them that way. Don’t forget a pocket full of change for the ice cream van!

8. The cinema
If it’s a hot day, there’s always the advantage that the cinema is usually air conditioned, and emty! Check online for rates for kids in the holidays and see if you can get a bargain on the latest blockbuster.

9. Camping

Head to one of the national parks if you have spare time and settle down for an evening of camping. Kids love the novelty and you can enjoy some quality time together roasting marshmallows by the fire and reading stories!

10. Fishing

If the kids are still after something to do- why not consider fishing? This is a step up from crabbing that most young kids do, and if theyare old enough to listen, sit still and enjoy learning, this can be a really interesting day. As an added bonus, if they are very good, you get a free dinner!

Those Summer Nights – 5 Ways to Spend Them

Summer nights. (Oh well oh well oh well oh well oh..Ooh!) Sorry. Grease references are all over, we promise. As the clocks are ‘springing forward’ as opposed to ‘fall-ing backwards’ (top tip for remembering) you miss out on the morning lie in but you do get a lighter, longer evening. Here’s how to make the most of those longer nights. 

You might rush from work and consider a nice refreshing beverage, but hold off and do something first. You might even find your pockets are heavier with some cheaper, more memorable experiences out of the pub.

1. Star gazing. Get settled near your highest point (sorry, Norfolk) and grab a bottle and a picnic. Wait for the sun to set and then spot the constellations. Take a book with you so you have some to guide you as you look and enjoy the evening in a peaceful serenity under the stars! (Men, this is also an ideal way to propose. Just sayin’.)

2. A guided walk. Many of the companies we work with do evening walks so you can explore the hills in the darkness in safety. A trained instructor who knows the route can show you where to walk and some great sights. A brilliant way to spend an evening.

3. Go climbing. If you don’t know how, get a beginners lesson. They will show you how to attach yourself safely and how to climb up and descend, building your confidence. If you are already a climber, and advanced course could teach you how to lead climb, or recue climbing skills.

4. Take a flight. Be it a hot air balloon, or the cheaper and just as fun microlighting, a trip into the skies is something worth booking for those longer, lighter evenings!

5. Go biking. A dusky mountain bike ride is peaceful, but will still rev you up with those downhill, screamingly fast descents! Get a guided MTB lesson to show you extra skills your parents never taught you- or go it alone or with the family for a feeling of ‘time well spent’.

Abandon the TV and think outside the box as the clocks go forward, you won’t regret it! Have you had any memorable nights away from the TV in the great outdoors? Image

 

 

Activity Ideas for Spring 2012

The weather’s getting warmer and you can see the positive change in people (of course, there are always those people who predict snow storms, blizzards or extreme disasters, but we will be ignoring those types, for now.)

So Easter is coming up, spring is here and soon the kids (or your other half) will be wanting to do something with their time off.

So here’s your quick guide to getting the most out of Spring this 2012!

Quad Biking

Picture the scene. The birds tweep gently in the trees. The sun peers over the forest, peaking in the sky and casting beautiful shadows on the ground, whilst warming your face. You notice NOTHING of this as you ride, 2 abreast at top speeds with your closest family members behind you, in a fit of competitiveness on a Quad Bike.

Quad biking isn’t a good time to spend a weekend or spring day. It’s a great way! Get the right day for the squeamish and the mud has dried up, or get the better day and you will have deceptive crusts on the mud, allowing surprise as you plough ‘over’ the mud only to be drenched. Brilliant fun.

See all GO Activities’ Quad Biking Experiences

Guided Walks

If you always walk the same haunts and want something new, we can’t recommend anything better than a guided walk even close to home. Walk next to a guide who spends their day walking (I know jealous?) whilst picking up their information, helpful hints and route planning ideas so you can do it all yourself. (A bit like copying the hairdresser at home, albeit with more success.)

See all GO Activities’ Guided Walks

Surfing

If you’re lucky enough to live near a coast then and despite being au fait with seagulls pinching your ice cream, you may not have ever been surfing! We implore you to. Surely this is like being in the capital and never having been into a franchised coffee outlet?

Our surfing days are designed for beginners but have the benefit of being useful for those with a little more experienced, so you can take a huge group of friends and all have a relevant, fun day out. Even kids can get involved at surf school with the help of a boogie board!

See all GO Activities’ Surfing Days

Paintballing

If you want a day out but find walking dull or don’t want to do anything too traditional (bump into Mum and Dad? No thanks!) then get yourself out paintballing. A great spend of an evening, afternoon or a weekend, paintballing is seriously addictive and fantastic for anyone who fanices a bit of competitive spirit!

See all GO Activities’ Paintballing Days

Land yachting

A strange but beautiful sport. Land yachting involves using the spirit of the wind on the sails associated with the yacht to make a sort of lie down bike, powered by said wind. You can control the wind’s power on the sails, making the ride fast and furious or smooth sailing. A brilliant day out.

See all GO Activities’ land yachting days 

What do you usually do over the Easter time off?

London Stag Do Under £100 Per Person

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10am –Start the day with a spot of laser combat very close to Pall Mall in central London. This indoor arena will ensure you have a fantastic day, using the very best state of the art laser technology, lighting and surround sound effects all in a futuristic war zone battle between the Federation Troopers and Alliance Commandos.

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At just £25 per person for an hour, this is a brilliant value activity for the price of 2 or 3 upmarket London priced beers.

12pm- Head to the North of London on the train or via car (3 minutes from the M25, Enfield Junction) for some zorbing in London ( after a quick lunch break.)

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Get the stag inside this 6 foot inflatable ball and watch as he screams in terror / happiness at being rolled down a hill, harnessed or not! At £35 per person this is a brilliant idea for a day out.
After that get yourself off to central London, stopping in Hillspring Lodge.

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Accommodation:

This is a hostel in London, yes, but don’t let the horror films put you off. This has a fully licensed bar and restaurant, free wireless internet and breakfast, lush green surroundings and it is also conveniently located just 17 minutes from the centre of London by tube with easy access to the Underground and London Bus Routes, 3 stops away from Wembley Park! A brilliant place to stay that’s ideal for a group of stags. (See the cow print theme). The rooms start from £15 a person and you can fit a stag party of 22 in there too! Brilliant stuff if you want cheap and cheerful all whilst in London!

The total to now is £75, so you still have £25 to spend to make up your budget of just under £100.
We recommend a nightclub, a pub or a bar – or in fact, taking just a squeak over £100 to cover ‘essentials’ – by which we mean shots of tequila.

Happy Stagging!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mothers. Some have ‘em. And if you love your mum like we love ours (ahh) then you will want to treat her. We know the problems though. Life gets in the way. Your car tax is due, you need to do the shopping and you have an ‘issue’ with the plumbing. Poor old mum gets relegated behind the leaky loo and the government’s legal stealing of your hard earned.

Sunday rolls around and you leave to meet her in 30 minutes. You have two choices.

a) Petrol station flowers, limp and flaccid and a sorry ‘thanks’ for looking after you for the past few decades.
b) A GO Activities gift voucher. This is an ideal (and the better) choice. Simply click, buy and print the voucher. Jam it in a card, or make one (mums love DIY gifts) and then you are good to go.

So what do GO Activities offer the Mums of the UK?

Treat mum to a bit of R and R this Mothers day with GO Activities!

Well, everything! Read on, kind son’s and daughters!

Knitting Classes

We have a course that can show mums how to knit a bag. Applying sequins and handles in the beauty of the Peak District you will be giving her a skill that can run to the future. So when your mum is the next Lulu Guiness (aka Top Bag Designer, to the uninformed) you can say ‘I had a part in that!’

Cost: £109 per Mum

See our ‘Bag Knitting’ Class here

Guided Walks

How about a guided walk as well? We have plenty of guided walks in the UK, but one we think most mums will love are the walks around Hadrian’s Wall.
The wall is very long indeed, but a great path to take starts from Newcastle, where you can even treat your mum to a nice night out or hotel the day before.

Cost: From just £15

See All Hadrian’s Wall Trips Here
A hotel trip away

What mum wouldn’t like a relaxing break with (or away from) her other half? GO Activities sells a range of accommodation so you can book her in to a local tavern, a faraway castle, an inn, a B and B…The list goes on!

Search for accommodation from the tab on the homepage

Cost: From around £25

A spa day

An oldie but a classic. We offer a variety of spa days, so you can choose between the full shebang (massages, facials and more) or just a simple mani/pedi. A brilliant relaxing day for any mum, a spa day is always a well received gift!

See our spa days here

Cost: From £54.99

There you have it. A few great ideas for your Mum, and all delivered into your email in minutes. Brilliant.

 

 

Survival Skills and Bushcraft Basics Guide

Bushcraft seems to be everywhere. From Bear to Ray Mears, watching celebs on TV can cause an interest in bushcraft courses. Bushcraft seems very Olde Worlde- untill your camping or you get lost on a walk. Then the skills can be lifesavers. Would you know what to eat and what not to – how to camp and where to walk without a compass, map, or even a light?  Why not make 2012 the year to stay safe and learn some skills?

I spoke to Jason Ingamels from  Woodland Ways about the basics of bushcraft, from how to navigate without a compass, what to eat, where to camp, how to keep mosquitoes away, how to start a fire in wet conditions and what to pack.

Why is bush craft so popular in your opinion?

There has been a huge amount of interest in Bushcraft & Survival Skills within the UK since the appearance on our TV screens of celebrities such as Ray Mears and Bear Gryll’s; highlighting a variety of different enjoyable skill sets. I believe these TV programs have made a wide part of the population take a look at their own lives and to start thinking about how they fit in to their natural environment. Modern humans lives are incredibly complicated, and I think the natural beauty of re-connecting with the skills of our ancestors plays a harmonious balancing act for our souls, this is where our courses at Woodland Ways Bushcraft & Survival come in.

How did you get into it?

I was inspired as a 9 year old child by a book that was given to me as a gift, it was Lofty Wisemans SAS Survival Handbook… as soon as I had this in my hands that was it, I was out building dens, learning fire lighting, tracking animals and I haven’t looked back since. I went through various training programs to teach professionally and now I run Woodland Ways, one of the busiest Bushcraft & Survival Schools in the UK.

Can the UK be dangerous?

Without a shadow of a doubt! Exposure to the elements can be a killer, which is why your immediate priority in a survival situation is shelter, and then if appropriate warmth. But looking beyond the basics there are plants out there that will kill you if digested.

What do you carry and what are your key items?

It sounds like a cliché but seriously your biggest asset is your brain, there is a certain psychology in understanding how to survive in the wild, and your knowledge should be the biggest help… it is unfortunate though that a little knowledge can be very dangerous, so it’s a good idea to get out there on a training course, have some fun and learn some skills. If you want to know the most important piece of equipment, I’d say a good knife. With this you have the ability to construct shelter, to fashion materials for fire and hence cook your food and make water safe to drink.

What about foraging for food, are there protected species that shouldn’t be touched?

It is vital in the UK to understand the legal framework of collecting flora. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, it is illegal to uproot any wild plant without permission from the landowner or occupier. Uproot is defined as to ‘dig up or otherwise remove the plant from the land on which it is growing’, whether or not it actually has roots. Legally the term ‘plant’ includes algae, lichens and fungi as well the true plants – mosses, liverworts and vascular plants.
Even plants growing wild are the legal property of somebody, and under the Theft Act, 1968, it is an offence to uproot plants for commercial purposes without authorisation.
Generally it is accepted to gather the four F’s, Flowers, Fruits, Foliage and Fungi where there are no local buy laws in place to prevent you.

Plants in protected areas

A variety of statutory designations are used for sites of high nature conservation interest, including National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Britain Owners and occupiers may be prosecuted if they destroy plants growing in these sites or remove plant material, unless they have first consulted the statutory conservation agencies (English Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or the Environment and Heritage Service, Northern Ireland).
It is illegal to pick, uproot or remove plants if by-laws are in operation which forbid these activities, for example on Nature Reserves, Ministry of Defence property or National Trust land.
For example. It is now illegal to collect fungi in Epping Forest.
Protected Plants
Plants listed in Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act are protected from intentional picking, uprooting or destruction without a license. Fortunately in doesn’t include many that are of interest to the forager.

ID of plants

The are over 160 native plants that are considered edible in some way shape or form, but there are also a large number of poisonous plants which can kill or make you seriously ill. The risk is even greater with fungi.
Sorrel can easily be mistaken for young Lords and Ladies! Cow Parsley with Hemlock, Hawthorn berries with Woody Nightshade! YOU MUST GET YOUR ID 110%. All guide books have limitations. No one image can depict a plant in all its infinite variety that results from;-stages of growth, genetic diversity, light and soil conditions etc. Illustrations tend to appear washed out and are subject to artistic license, whilst photographs tend to depict the whole plant in flower and therefore may not give sufficient close up detail of the leaf or other significant features. In plant identification often touch and smell are bought into play which may not be conveyed in a book. Attending a foraging course with a reputable company is the best way of starting.

Tolerance to plants

Anyone can react to even a plant that is listed as edible. I’ve even known someone allergic to Hawthorn! With some plants such as Hogweed a significant amount of people can have an adverse reaction and even some “edible” fungi commonly cause problems with a significant amount of people;- Chicken of the woods, Shaggy Parasol. Always start with a tiny amount to test your tolerance. Once you know you are ok to start gathering there are then some common sense decisions to make also, you should avoid;-the edges of arable fields unless you know the land owner and know they haven’t been sprayed.The edges of busy roads;- pollutants in vehicle exhausts, council spraying etc. Areas liable to flooding, especially where the water may have flowed through centres of population, industrial areas, pasture land or heavily farmed areas.

How can you navigate without a compass?

Navigating in the wilds without a compass is challenging but again, with some good knowledge the practical outdoorsman can calculate a bearing. This is very useful to have a constant understanding of your position within your landscape.
There are numerous ways that you can interpret the landscape, understand the sun, the moon or indeed the stars. Probably the easiest and most accurate is to use an analogue watch.
It is also most accurate if done between 6am and 6pm. Simply point the hour hand of your watch directly towards the sun and bisect the angle between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This will give you a North-South line and in the UK between 6am and 6pm the sun will be to the south of you. You need to ensure that you are on correct local time (GMT in the UK), if the clocks are changed for daylight saving like British Summertime you need to bisect the angle between the hour hand and 1 o’clock.
What are the best places to build camp in the wilderness?

I always advise our clients the key thing to consider is where are your resources, and build as close to these as possible. However there are certain areas you would avoid, such as hollows where cold air would sink, on flood plains, right next to water due to the insect risk, on large game trails etc but the most important thing if building a shelter in a woodland is to look up and ensure there is nothing likely to fall down on you.

Can you tell us what to eat and a little about foraging –  what about bugs- can they be eaten? 

Surprisingly food is actually usually very easy to come by… as long as we can get out of our modern day mindset on what constitutes food! For example in lowland UK the common earth worm is a wonderful source of protein. It is best to purge them and then quickly fry them, they taste not unlike a bit of bacon rind.

How do you start a fire – and what if it has been raining?

Always light fire by the easiest possible means… and start at the end. If you have to resort to rubbing two sticks together to get fire then there is no point in creating an ember if you have nothing to burn. So start off and gather your fuel, and then your kindling, and then your tinder. I teach c.14-16 different methods of getting fires going but as a general rule of thumb when we are lighting fires for real we rely on high grade sparks. This is because they are resistant to wind/rain, and will get lots of natural tinder’s going. If you’re working in very wet conditions you may need to dry your tinder by placing it inside your clothing to let your body heat dry it out, and also to split your fuel into the heart wood where it will be nice and dry.
What wildlife can you spot in the UK? What tips do you have?

My favourite mammal to watch is deer, and my favourite of those is watching Roe, they have so many characteristics that can throw the casual observer. If you want to get close I suggest learn the art of tracking, discovering the signs that are left by the species. Once you know they are in the area use track traps and barriers to find them. Once in site be aware of your shape, sound, smell, silhouette, shine… get yourself upwind and if the deer bolt and you loos sight head uphill, I bet you’ll be surprised you may just find them again!

What are the difficult skills that need to be taught? 

Truly the most difficult of skills has to be the ability to light fire… In any conditions. It may be that on a nice warm sunny day with plenty of material you’re fine… but how about in the freezing cold, when it has been pouring with rain for 12 hours… could you do it then?

How do you keep mosquitoes off you in the wilderness? 

In the UK try this one, take some Elder leaves (Sambucus Nigra), give them a real good scrunch up in your hands to release the juice, and then smear this on exposed areas… you’ll stink… but the mosquitoes won’t get you! (I should point out it is best to try this on a small area of skin to begin with to make sure that you are not allergic!)

Your 3 desert island items?

Wow, 3… that’s generous! I’d simply say my knife… however as I now have two luxury items I’d take something to shelter under and a fire steel…!

If you are interested in a bushcraft course – please click to see all of our Bushcraft Courses in The UK. 

Have you got any top tips for budding bushmen and women?

Top 5 walks in the North East of England

If you’re a keen walker or just out for a ramble, then look no further than these beautiful places to go in the North East sent to us by the keen walkers at Status Digital in Newcastle.

Hadrian’s Wall

You can walk the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall along the 84 mile National Trail – however, there are many shorter routes that allow you to enjoy a sample of Hadrian’s Wall in a day. One of the best sections can be walked from Steel Rigg in a circular route up to Hotbank Farm then back along the wall and two of its milecastles.

Hadrians Wall

Hadrians Wall

You may well recognise many of the views as this is one of the most photographed stretch of the wall – including Crag Lough and the Sycamore Gap (famous from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves!) – so be sure to take your camera.

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College Valley

Northumberland Coast

Blow the cobwebs away with a walk up the Northumberland Coast for stunning coastline and beautiful castles. Walking from Craster down to Howick Hall and back up the coast is a fairly flat route, and combines farmland on the way down with rugged coastline on the way back up. There’s even a secluded little beach about half way round which is perfect for a lunch stop. If you fancy a drink afterwards head up to The Ship at Low Newton by the Sea slightly further up the coast. Their beer is brewed in a microbrewery just next to the pub.

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Swaledale

This varied walk sums up all the fabulous things Swaledale has to offer – valley greenery, steep hillsides, and moor tops together with the lead mining history which has shaped the landscape so dramatically. Set off from the village of Gunnerside up Gunnerside Ghyll, starting along the river then gradually making your way higher up the valley.

Swaledale

Swaledale

Scramble up Bunton Hush, a remnant of an old lead mining practice, then stride over the moor tops. The route comes down past Old Gang Smelt Mill, over Surrender Bridge before looping back round to Gunnerside. Classic Swaledale.

Collage Valley

Collage Valley

Durham Dales

This area is great for a real feeling of being away from it all. It’s very quiet and peaceful and seems virtually untrodden in places, so much so that you might find yourself relying on a map and compass on occasion. A favourite is walking from Rookhope near Stanhope, finding your way across the expansive moorland, exploring the old mining sites and ending up at The Rookhope Inn for an ale and a pie.

Craster Walk

Craster Walk

The Cheviot

The jewel of Northumberland, this 2,674 ft (815 m) high, flat-topped mound can be reached via several stunning routes through the Cheviot Hills. Most notably College Valley, for it’s very picturesque, typically Northumbrian landscape. There are a number of routes to the summit, varying in gradient but the top of the hill is virtually flat for quite a long way before you reach the summit. Depending on the weather, this tends to mean the top is mostly occupied by fairly a treacherous peat bog, but there are some good stone paths through most of it.

The Cheviot

The Cheviot

Wisdom Wednesday on Camping

Last week’s Wisdom Wednesday focused on asking our expert Via Facebook and Twitter all about Camping.

Here are all the questions and answers!
BjRacingTeam on Twitter- What is the best way of removing mud from a poly cotton tent? (outwell indian lake teepee)

GO Activities – Wait for a sunny day, pitch the tent and clean it with warm water and a big sponge, use Fabsil or Nikwax Tech Wash for stains etc, wash it downwards so cleaning product doesn’t stay in the fabric, then rinse with clean water, then leave it to dry in the sun, then re-proof it!

BjRacingTeam on Twitter -What are the best tent pegs for muddy conditions?

GO Activities- This Ripple Angle Peg or these Power Pegs are better for mud, there are no ‘perfect’ pegs for mud though so just get the best you can afford and come prepared!
NellBridges on Twitter  “Is there a list of campsites with disabled facilities? And details?”

GO Activities – I recommend using the facilities section on Camping Ninja or here on UK campsite. 
 Talodi on Twitter  When camping in Europe what are my essentials? 

GO Activities-  Over and above what you would usually take camping I would recommend a 12v pin adaptor, and for your gas stove take more gas than usual or invest in a multi fuel stove like the MSR as screw in gas bottles can be difficult to find.  – Here is a book for the best campsites in Europe too which could be handy! If you are planning to wild camp there is a guardian article that is very handy. Also- in Northern Europe don’t forget to watch out for Tics which carry Lime’s disease. Red rings around a bite indicate a stop at the doctor should be immediate!”

PurpleMadboy via Twitter -What should I pack for the WHW (West Highland Way)?

GO Activities – Lightweight is key! First off we would suggest a 50+15 rucksack for the week (this route should take a week or so.)
Stock up on extra food en route but pack plenty of emergency rations (dehydrated food just in case) – utensils, and all the right clothes for the climate and time you are going.

Take good boots obviously, Something like a Scarpa SL , and a sleep mat for the evenings.

Don’t over pack, so go for clothes, double up on socks and buy good quality ones that are thick enough for comfort. Boots, cooking gear, sleeping gear ( depends on time of year but make sure you pack the right season sleeping bag) and emergency items as well.
We sell this activity so for a full kit list go here!

This is our most popular itinerary as it fits in perfectly to a weeks holiday in the WHW.

To get your questions answered weekly, like us or follow us on Facebook as well as Twitter.