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  • Plant Identification for Wild food and Medicine

    Just 2 places left

    29 May 2018

    Plant identification for wild foods and Medicine

    2 places left on this exploration into the world of plants and trees

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Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership Testimonials - Class of 2009/10

Paul Brockman

paulbrockman"When I heard that I was accepted onto the course, I was elated, but then I got scared and lost confidence that I could complete the course let alone acquire the knowledge and learn the skills.

John and Nick have been fantastic teachers and encourage and supported and made me laugh throughout the course, I don't think they doubted my ability as I did, but they pushed me to succeed and I can't thank them enough for their support, not just to me, but to the whole group.

When I read other peoples testimonials that it has changed their lives, I didn't quite understand what they meant, but now I do....this has been an incredible life changing experience. The chance to be plucked out of the 22nd century back to our to our hunter gatherer days, back to nature, back to the woods where we should be and one the best bits was beating the master, John at the Archery competition.

Leaving for the last time was really difficult and will really miss John and Nick, Adi and the guys, the woods.......but now we've flown the nest and out to face the challenge build on the learning and pass onto others the environmental key messages and teach people the skills from the woods is where we need to be.........I will be promoting this course to anyone that has an interest in all things Bushcraft."

Andy Senior

Andy-Senior"It is rare in life to say that you have met someone that can be described as 'inspirational', rarer still to be able to study with them for ten months and leave with a completely changed and rounded outlook on not just the natural environment, but your whole approach to day to day life, your thoughts for the future and those of your children, but that is what you have when you have been fortunate enough to complete the Instructors course at Woodcraft School.

The team at Woodcraft School, headed by John Rhyder, Caron Buckingham and Nick Ward provide a completely rounded education in camp craft, awareness of nature, conservation and education for us to better enjoy, respect and preserve nature and its utilisation in a carefully considered and crafted series of learning modules that quite simply change the way you think and behave. Very early on you get a real sense that underlying this is a strong desire to truly educate and pass on skills that go far beyond rubbing sticks together, but are ultimately focussed on understanding and preserving the natural environment for the future, whilst also equipping you with the necessary tools to teach these skills to others and build upon them further yourself.

If you want to just learn Bushcraft Skills then try a weekend course, if you are looking for something far broader and are prepared to put in lot of research and learning between sessions then this is the course for you."

Any regrets? – "yeah, you want to keep learning !"

Any advice ? - "water proof socks, they're the future !!"

David Rye

davidrye"What can I say but Wow!. You go into the course wondering what you have let yourself in for and can I really spend a year doing it, but after the first week you know you have done the right thing.

The amount of information passed on by John and Nick in a relaxed environment is awe inspiring and they are always ready to answer any questions.

It was hard work getting into writing essays again and learning the latin but not wanting to sound like a geek, that even got enjoyable. The course covers everything to prepare you for a career in this field plus more.

I am going to miss the monthly trip , as I have met alot of new friends and not seeing them will be sad. It was good being in an environment with people who have the same passions.

What am I up to now.. I have started Worldtree bushcraft where I am putting my new knowledge to use. I am teaching inner city youths / adults bushcraft skills in an urban environment , making use of inner city spaces."

David Hennessey

Davidhennessey"I can't quite believe how fast this last year has gone. I seem to have been franticly trying to prepare craft items, assignments, read up on techniques and skills, all the while trying to fit 'work' in for ages now.

I can honestly say that you get out of this course what you put in. The course work is extensive and wide ranging, from woodland management, food hygiene to the instruction in making numerous craft items, all of which are taught excellently by John and Nick. However, it then falls to you to build on and improve these skills and techniques which is what make this course so interesting and intensive.

The year has been a great experience, great tutors, excellent group of lads and a fantastic woodland playground.

Next step: Continue to work as an Ecologist, undertaking habitat surveys and work with protect UK animal species. I am continuing to build on my bushcraft knowledge and skills, as well as working towards my Mountain Leader award."

Chris Todd

"I am writing this just after completing my first days work as a freelance bushcraft instructor. This alone for me proves just how good this course has been. Attending this course has provided me with the skills to deliver bushcraft lessons to groups in a confident and professional manner. Before starting the course I had been on other bushcraft courses and had a great interest in the subject along with a passion for natural history. I had wanted to further my studies of the subject with an aim of teaching it and although I did have some solid background knowledge and training my heart leapt when I saw an ad in bushcraft magazine for the instructor's course. I was late in applying and only just managed to secure a place on the interview a week before it was to take place. When I attended the interview and met John and all of the other applicants I was certain that this was the course for me. To my delight I was accepted for the course and making the move to becoming a trainee instructor is definitely the best decision I have ever made.During the year I had a chance to build on my existing skills but also valuable training on how to teach people (something that I had little experience in). The course also provided me with valuable insight on how the industry works and things that clients and employers expect from you. John and Nick have been outstanding instructors throughout the year and are both good fun and very approachable. Although they are both humble in their abilities they are both very talented and experienced woodsman and brilliant naturalists in their own right. They both share their wealth of knowledge freely and it has been a privilege to learn from them.The woodcraft site is outstanding with brilliant facilities in beautiful surroundings. The area is teaming with wildlife and although you are taken on trips around the site to learn about the flora and fauna you are also encouraged to go out and discover things for your self. I had many memorable trips around the woods on my own and with fellow students and I must say will miss the place. The course is organised behind the scenes by Caron who does a brilliant job in running things (thanks Caron for getting me on the interview After my late application) Caron and John also hand pick outside instructors to cover other subjects that you learn and get certificated for during the ten months. This adds great value for money to the course and the instructors they chose were all of a high standard. On this course I met like-minded people who trained along with me and each one of them taught me something different. Learning from watching others teach and seeing their ideas has been a valuable experience not to mention great fun. A fantastic ten-month spent with fantastic people. I was saddened when the course ended and even sad finishing off my portfolio (well kind of) but with the skills I have learnt and the things I have achieved I realise this is only the beginning. A genuine massive thank you to everyone at Woodcraft School and the people who trained with me!"

Mark Hedgecock

markhedgecock"The Bushcraft Leaders course was so much more than I expected when I applied so long ago. Back then I was inept with tools, did not understand that lessons are crafted rather than spontaneous, and struggled to tell a foxglove from a dock (surely that's dangerous!).

I couldn't even speak latin and fire by friction was fire by fiction

But John and Nick created an air of mild mannered care and support in a way I hope I can emulate in my future work, and I was amazed that all the students, whatever their background, brought even more learning to the course with the interesting lessons they presented.

Within the year I was carving spoons from branches, bowdrilling infernos and speaking latin like a roman. Even teaching had become a pleasure rather than something to be scared of.

So now it's back to the big wide world... and the best thing of all... I know I will enjoy using the qualification just as much as I enjoyed getting it. It's the one year course that lasts a lifetime."

David Willis

davidwillis"What a fantastic year in the woods with Woodcraft School. It's only by looking back at my notes, photographs and course portfolio that I can begin to appreciate just how much I have learnt and experienced. What made this all the more rewarding was the learning to teach and depth of understanding we developed, providing the knowledge and confidence to teach others.

I arrived at Woodcraft School with a good grounding in Bushcraft, having attended excellent courses in the distant passed. As a Scout leader, I put these skills to good use teaching Cubs and Scouts, but I was looking to take this much further, to push my abilities and extend my depth of knowledge and experience. I wanted a challenge, and the Bushcraft Leadership course was just what I needed.

It's a very long time since I have been in education, so the thought of producing a course portfolio, lesson plans and being assessed on everything was to say the least a little daunting. But the sense of achievement now puts that all in perspective; in fact it questions how you could teach without that depth of planning and knowledge.

That course portfolio, is now a working document, something I will be adding to on a regular basis. Bushcraft covers a huge number of areas, and so whilst I will strive to retain all that know how and travel light, a reference for all the detail and reflections on those experiences is essential.

And the Latin, with support from fellow students, I achieved what seemed at times to be impossible. All that twig and plant identification, Latin names and points of interest have triggered an even greater quest to learn more, in Latin too, especially all those wild foods.

In the closing months, delivering lessons to school kids, scouts and park rangers really brought all these skills together and of course it was great to witness all those smiling faces!

Many thanks go to John Ryder and Nick Ward, their depth of knowledge is unquestionable, but it is their teaching of those skills and enthusiasm for this immense subject which was for me what, made this course so fantastic."

What and where next?

David is keen to see a resurgence of Bushcraft within Scouting and continues to work with Scouts locally and has also been training Leaders at Gilwell Park, Scouting's HQ. He plans to work with other youth groups and local woodland and wildlife groups and trusts.David can be contacted via his blog at

Jay Witts

"What rational person would spend their savings to spend 50 days of their lives over a 10 month period in a tent in woodland in deepest Sussex with no modern amenities. Add to this chilling winter temperatures, a generous dollop of snow, gale forced winds, traditional UK torrential rain and the odd mosquito or 2...

Me, Jay Witts...ok so why? If we 1st travel back 10 months I was already instructing groups and individuals in core bushcraft skills, however my personal experiences of actually living outdoors for any reasonable length of time was limited, so to be quite honest I felt a bit of a fraud ...yes I could teach someone how to make water safe to drink, but had not really used these techniques to provide water for a fixed camp for a number of days...yes I could teach a child to safely carve a spoon, but to take a tree and to shape it into a functioning long bow is incredible...yes I can gut a fish and BBQ it, but to be given the opportunity to prepare a deer really takes you back to your ancestral roots.

In the past I have been on solo open canoe expeditions to remote locations in areas like Scotland, but I have always carried back up stoves, dehydrated ready meals and filled my boat with a multitude of modern gadgets and creature comforts. Since the course has been completed I have travelled to the Swedish wilderness and practiced bushcraft with confidence with a rucksack filled with a few bits of essential kit, very basic cooking provisions and an increased awareness of what natural resources that would be available in typical Swedish habitats. After 10 months of lighting fires on the course in non fire lighting weather and cooking over open fires and improvised ovens I was able to conjure up some Scandinavian gastronomic masterpieces over the open fire . I was amazed that I was able to identify European plants I had never seen before, track European moose and navigate a 110km canoe route with very basic maps. 'No' the Woodcraft School will not teach you to track moose, but it will show you how to track...'no' the school won't show you all useful European plants, but it will show you many, and it will also show you how to use wildflower keys and look at habitats to identify any other plants you come across. The Woodcraft School gives you the tool kit to be a confident bushcraft practitioner and this is why John Rhyder and his team of professional, knowledgeable and experienced instructors will keep on winning bushcraft awards in this field. During the course you will live, eat and sleep bushcraft and have first hand experience of the challenges that lawfully practicing responsible & sustainable bushcraft in the 21st century brings. The Woodcraft School will encourage you to ask why & how and to explore your natural world. I believe that the Woodcraft School have now given me credibility and the right to teach bushcraft from real experience. When you leave you will be equipped with the skills to practice bushcraft in the real world and it is even more rewarding you will have the confidence and skills to spread the bushcraft word to the next generation. A few people have suggested that the course is expensive...I would suggest that if you want 5 star service then you have to pay for it and if you want a youth hostel then visit a forum. The Woodcraft School is the real deal – you won't be disappointed. Thanks John, Nick and Caron – I will be back!

Finally I would like to add that what has made the experience even more worthwhile for me was sharing it with 15 other prospective coaches who's enthusiasm for bushcraft and nature was infectious. I would like to thank them for their good cheer, team work and sharing some of their wisdom with me and all I can hope is our friendships last and they fulfil their bushcraft dreams."

Nick Skinner

Nick-Skinner"A trully worthwile course. It is versitile and managed to give a wide range of people all they needed to progress. Although there is a huge ammount of knowledge passsed on over intensive days i enjoyed them all and the regular break from life was blissful. Basicaly thanks to the realy well thought out course exellent instruction, apart from Phil and for me the valuable teaching to various types of groups, I now have a small bushcraft practice up and running. If you want to teach bushcraft this course does what it says very well. (Phil was excellent as well....)"

Phil Durham

"Attending the instructors course at the Woodcraft School was the best thing i have ever done. not only has it opened doors to an exiting new occupation, but it has given me a sence of direction, and so much confidence. i now feel much more in touch with nature and it is an amazing feeling! i recommend the course to everybody because the woodcraft school team are second to none and if i could, i would attend the course every year for the rest of my life. thankyou woodcraft school!"

Nigel Painter

Nigel-Painter"Well its now 2011 and I am the proud recipient of a Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership NCFE level 3 qualification, Wow how did that happen?

Hard work and top level instruction from John and Phil, with assistance from Nick, all with astounding knowledge and experience not to mention patience, not forgetting the engine that keeps all this rolling on, Caron working tirelessly in the background, that's the easy answer, but I'll explain a little more.

As I had already met John some years ago and knew his reputation I was trying not let the pressure get to me! I have been involved in the outdoors for years, walking, mountain leading, bushcraft courses and military survival stuff and I really wanted to attain a place on the course, hoping to cement all this information into a solid base for the future.

Months later, I am one of the lucky ones and am walking up the path with my kit & food, full of trepidation. Throughout the next 10 months as the students worked together, learning with & from each other's feedback we were like huge sponges soaking up the instruction on a bewildering array of subjects, some were completely new - Latin tree names for instance and others a refresher from previous years.

However, this was different, we were going to be instructors so every subject was taken to a deeper level and with flawless instruction come rain sleet or snow, Oh yes and the occasional ray of sunshine which proved difficult to chase for a solar fire-lighting lesson we continued on!

Presenting this range of acquired knowledge to outside groups especially families and friends at the end of the course was hugely satisfying, seeing a student create fire for the first time you will never ever forget that smile.

Would I do the course again – YES without a doubt, aside from making some solid friendships and realising the significant and often underestimated volume of work involved when away from the trees to produce for our portfolio's. I am responsible for military survival training within the Royal Air Force and realise my instructor techniques have improved beyond doubt and my skills base has benefited immensely.

What am I doing with all of this:- I use the skills assisting other graduates with their companies and have the honour to assist on John's team occasionally in addition to teaching survival to RAF personnel in readiness for world wide ops."

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