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Woodcraft School Writing

Woodcraft A practical celebration of the tree

John Rhyders First Book

This book takes the reader on a very practical learning journey about the safe use of tools and harvesting of wood to the subsequent uses for roots bark and timber. A step by step account with colour photographs, this book is suitable for a student of woodcraft, the naturalist, and the practitioner of bushcraft skills. If you have ever wanted to make your own bow and arrow, make fire using just friction or explore the properties of bark, make inks and dyes or discover a wealth of other relevant and traditional uses for wood then this book will not disappoint you.  John Rhyder has taught these skills for over 20 years and delivers the information in a no-nonsense and easy to follow guide with a lot of humour

Available from the following places:


Sussex Wildlife Trust

"As you'd expect from one of the legends of outdoor education, this book contains a feast of practical tips. 

If you spend time outdoors, I strongly recommend getting hold of a copy". 

Tristan Gooley



Interview with Mark Yates

Interview with John and Mark Yates where John talks about bushcraft and natural history sharing some of his thoughts on these subjects.

Tracking Basics

When asked to imagine the process of tracking, most of us would conjure a line of footprints stretching off into the distance and a buckskin clad mountain man with his nose to the ground. Occasionally, following animals by the signs they leave behind can be just like this, although you don’t see that much buckskin in the woods of West Sussex. I have been lucky enough to track with some exceptional conservation trackers both at home and abroad and believe the process can be broken down into four basic aspects.

How to light a campfire

The campfire is perhaps the most iconic and desired aspect of outdoor life. Together with the obvious, making food and water safe, fire also acts as a focal point and a morale booster. This latter effect cannot be over stressed especially in the more remote regions of the world. Native Americans believed in an evil being named the Wendigo spirit. It was thought that this spirit would steal your life force and was especially active when the sun began to set and it started to rain. If you have ever had a long tiring day in the woods and experienced these conditions you may have noticed how your energy flags and your spirits sink. Undoubtedly the Wendigo is at work sapping your life force. Happily all you need to do is light a fire to chase him away, and again you may have notice how lighting a fire lifts ones spirits in direct proportion to the height of the flames.

Secrets in Scat

It may well be considered a strange and even bizarre claim to fame but as result of my natural history study and interest. I have, after many years, become the proud (if that’s the right word) owner of a collection of droppings from most of the UK’s land mammal population. While this would seem a weird thing to be collecting I should explain, perhaps, that the tracking of animals involves finding and interpreting the things they leave behind, the most immediately obvious sign of an animals passing, at least to most, would be footprints which are indeed valuable in determining who has been about. Often times however the soil or, notably recently, the weather conditions don’t lend themselves to finding footprints. Droppings however can and do stick around for ages and give a wealth of information about the creatures that left them. There is a very good reason for my collection, honestly, but more of that later.

The Root to a Good Meal

In the wild diet starchy carbohydrates are difficult to find at least in the woods and hedgerows and in any meaningful quantities. A quick glance through any wild food book reveals lots of salad options but few veg to really get your teeth into. Springtime does however reveal energy laden roots and despite the sudden halt in growth caused by the recent cold spell there are still good things to be found.

Spring Greens

Despite the vagaries of the British weather, the sussex plant community seems to carry on regardless with a host of new life pushing through the saturated and often frozen ground.

A walk through a typical broadleaved woodland in February and March may surprise you with the variety of plant life to be found. With a group of students last week in our local woods 16 species were identified over a distance of a few hundred yards, many of which were both edible and medicinal.

Poland Winter wildlife and Tracking Trip Report

Many things stand out in the memory after a trip of this nature but two in particular are etched in my mind. The first is the sight of a European bison walking slowly out of a pre dawn mist across a snowy meadow in Bialowieza forest, the powder snow being kicked up as he walked on. Truly an animal in its natural environment doing what his kind had done for millennia.

  • Description; Photos of our Advanced Bushcraft Award and some of the activities.
  • Location; Woodcraft School

Why Learn Latin?

Or, as I am sure some of my students would say, "please, why oh why learn latin.." Latin has been used for the naming of all things natural mainly because it is a 'dead language'; it is no longer spoken and can therefore no longer evolve and change. The hope being that once something is named in this language it will stay fixed forever.

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