Saturday, 26 July 2008

Light Mears ahead?

Just back from an overnighter that blurred the lines between Ray Mears-style bushcraft and fast and light trekking. I'm calling it here and now - Light Mears. My brother and I were taken to woodland where my Dad is a volunteer ranger with a view to spending the night under a tarp and learning a bit about how wondlands are managed. We were shown how hedges are laid, how coppicing works, how charcoal is produced in bulk and all the different types of trees and how their timber is used. After a bit of bushwacking we found a great spot to camp on top of a steep wooded combe. Firewood was lying all around us and a wee fire was soon blazing as we strung up a tarp between two trees. Mozzies were 'bugging' us until a splash of jungle brut (a.k.a 100% DEET) was administered. Camping in woods is a different kettle of fish to camping on higher ground or even on the SWCP. The different noises, smells and 'feel' of the air, still and earthy. Badgers and deer were our watchkeepers as we slipped off to sleep. I woke up to find my bivvy covered in slugs. The lil' bastards had slimed me. I lay awake for a while, savouring the morning sights and sounds under the chlorophyll light as my brother snored away. About an hour later we had packed up the sleeping gear and Dad had returned to pick us up. I had two golden syrup flavoured Readybrek sachets and a Snowpeak of coffee for breakfast. Once we were on our way we headed off towards the Dorset Coppice Group outdoor education workshop and had a gander at various woodland management displays like the surreal chainsaw carvings pictured above. We also saw the huge metal drum that charcoal is produced in. I'd seen local charcoal for sale in garden centres and I vowed to try and 'buy local' in future, knowing that I would be supporting this group of dedicated people, fighting to keep traditional methods alive. We circled around another valley, taking a scenic route back to the car, our Dad pointing out deer tracks and other subtle changes in the environment that I hadn't tuned into. We stopped for another fresh brew on the way back, my brother cooking up a storm on his home-made alcohol stove. The weather was absolutely blazing and despite light packs we all slowed considerably on the final pull up to the car park. Where was the rain we were forecast? I had new waterproof troos to try out!

1 comment:

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