At last i have had time to type up this report after much harassment from Jason here it is
Last weekend we were lucky enough to get out to a new site that we have been given access to by the land owners, (a major national landowner Iím not telling who or where and weíve been asked not to, but I will say that itís pretty local to me here in Buckinghamshire).So I thought that a post in the out and about forum was called for.
The wood itself is a long strip running generally north south on a incline, highest in the east and consists mainly of deciduous woodland with a large variety of trees and a good under story of usable plants. It has a chalk geology, so very shallow soils containing a lot of surface flint one down side there is no readily accessible natural water source.
Myself and Roving Rich decided this time that we would do it properly and walk in instead of turn up in a car and camping out of the boot. So I got dropped off at Roving Rich's place by my lovely wife (thanks dear) and after a cup of tea and a spot of target shooting, donít ask, we set off.
After short walk of about 3.5 miles and having seen deer, rabbit, some other edibles and found a very well laden crab apple tree, we arrived at the farm house we had been directed to. We were greeted by Aaron who guided our walk across fields, through secret gaps in hedges and to camp. The wood has only one public right of way through it at the northern end so access is restricted and there is no obvious means of entry from the south.
We arrived at camp to be greeted by a well made fire and the smiling faces of Rod, Jason and Simon (I think that was his name it evaded me all weekend and still does sorry mate) glowing in the fire light. By this time the dusk was well and truly upon us so a quick hammock and tarp pitch was required to sort out our sleeping arrangement. After pitching up and familiarising our selves with camp the light had all but gone and it was time for some dinner. Yummy steak and veggie kebabs over the fire - there arenít too many outdoor dinners better than that, the rest of the evening was spent in pleasant conversation over a few beers discussing the woods, itís potential, how the arrangement with the landowner had come about, what they required from us in return and what everyone wanted to do the next day.
Saturday morning came after a night of quite heavy rain - all had a dry night and were now ready for breakfast. As I smelled the sausages in the pan I thought it might be a good time to leave the warmth and comfort of my hammock. Breakfast was sausage, bacon and foraged oyster mushrooms, again there arenít too many outdoor breakfasts better than that and I do like my flame grilled meat but not from the establishment that claims to cook it that way!
After plentiful cups of coffee we were set up for the day and, as had been decided the night before, we set off to discover the potential of the woods and get to know the lay of the land.
During a good few hours wandering round the woods and neighbouring fields we had found a few possible new campsites, a White Beam tree that I had never seen before and plenty of late summer fruit. We now had a good idea of the potential of our new woods resources.
After a cup of tea and a sit down, pot hangers were the next project on the list. I made an adjustable canter leaver pot hook while Jason went for a more traditional horizontal bar setup.
Fire by friction was the next thing on the list I did some hand drill with found woods while Jason used his bow drill set. We then both had a go with a pre-prepared hand drill set I brought along. Hereís Jason doing hand drill, we donít have too many photos because Roving Rich decided, inadvertently, to delete them grrrrrrr.
Another cup of tea and then it was on to making fishhooks for me and Roving Rich, Jason made bannock while Rod split wood and practiced his carving.
Jason kneading and enjoying it !!!!!
I had made the yew and bone part of my trolling hook before arriving so all I needed to do was make pine resin glue.
A little bit about the hook: this is a hook that attaches to a canoe paddle with a long leader (10 to 12 m) then as the paddler paddles the hook moves forward imitating the movement of a fish this in turn attracts the intended target fish (Salmon). The bone pin is glued with pine resin pitch then bound on with wet sinew and dried by the fire, to finish off a water proof layer of pitch is applied.
The glue was made in the bottom of one of last nights beer cans.
Detail of the finished hook
The finished hook
Unfortunately for me and Rich our gate passes expired early Saturday evening so we had to break camp about 4:30 Saturday afternoon. After striking camp we sat down with Rod and Jason and had another cup of tea, broke the bannock and shared dried sausage it was most delightful and dead tasty too thanks to the herb mix that Jason brought.
At this point it is worth mentioning that rich dumped his rucksack and decided to carry his entire load on a roycroft pack frame after being shown it and experimenting with it whilst with Mors Kochansic. Here he is with it.
Everyone that tried the pack found it comfortable and after carrying it close to 7 miles in two days Rich showed no ill effects and was still singing its praises.
Our walk home took a different route to the walk in and in just under an hour we were back at Rich's drinking tea and discussing the days events.
I really enjoyed my time in the new woods and hope that it wonít be too long before weíre back there again. A big thanks to Rich, Rod, Jason, Aaron and Simon for great company and a extra big thank you to Jason and Aaron for their hard work and the great achievement of getting access to this fantastic site.
See you next time.