Course Duration: 18 Months comprising of 8 weekends plus two 5 day modules (total of 34 days)
Course Size: 12 Maximum (a ratio of 1 instructor to 6 customers)
Course Age: 18+
The Primitive Bushcraft Skills Course starts in early summer and runs through until the autumn of the following year giving you the experience to thrive in all the seasons nature can muster. A small intake of just 12, and a low instructor to client ratio, guarantees an experience that is unmatched in the UK. This course is based exclusively from our handbuilt Round House base on the Haddon Hall Estate in Derbyshire - a stunning woodland location in the Derwent Valley in which to immerse yourself.
Brought to you by the same team that deliver the industry leading 2 year Woodland Wayer, this modular course is designed to take you on a journey back in time to equip the willing student with a range of so-called 'primitive' skills. Over the 18 month duration you will explore projects such as making buckskin clothing and footwear, making a flat bow and arrows, weaving mats and containers, learning to recognise, harvest and process a huge range of plant materials and identify wild animal tracks. All this culminates in a 5 day immersive test phase that will put all of your skills and projects to the test to truly live the 'primitive' experience in an environment a short distance away from the archaeologically significant site of Cresswell Crags. While this is a stand alone course it's an excellent progression from the Woodland Wayer for those interested specifically in the time period.
We do not pretend to preach what happened in our stone age era rather we aim to open your eyes to what can be accomplished when relying utterly on natural materials found in the woodland environment.
The modules are designed to run in a complimentary order to give you the essential skills and gradually building your understanding of natural materials and your confidence in living within the woods until you are ready to undertake your test phase during module 10.
The course is comprised mainly of weekend modules running from 13:00 Friday through until noon on Sunday, with a long weekend module starting 19:00 Thursday and running to 15:00 Monday during module 2. The test phase at the end of the course will run from 19:00 Thursday until 13:00 Tuesday.
The longer modules are designed specifically to allow you the time in the woods to effectively make buckskin and then ultimately to give you a suitable test phase at the conclusion of the course in an environment that has become totally familiar.
Throughout the duration of this course, we strongly encourage participation beyond your modules in the woods and set you 'homework' throughout the course either in preparation for the module to come or to build on skills previously covered. Largely this homework will entail the completion of craft work and projects to the desired level. It will also include handouts on skills covered, recommendations for further reading and links to useful resources so that you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself more holistically in the stone age.
Largely your weekends will be self-catered apart from those modules when we are utilising seasonal foods or preparing game as part of your training. Providing your own breakfast, lunch and evening meals during typical modules means we can we can apply as much time as possible to covering the skills you will need without using valuable course time to cook group meals. As with many of our longer duration courses, it is likely that you will end up clubbing together for course food and electing a nominated cook for a main meal, day or even entire weekend as decided by the group but this is not organised by us and left to the groups discretion.
Ultimately you will be collecting, processing and eating wild foods during your 5-day test phase and will be provided with a range of game foods to prepare.
Accommodation & Equipment
Accommodation: Initially, you will need to bring along a sleeping system for the woods until everyone has created their natural shelter during module 7. A hammock and tarp or a tent will be perfect to get you started. From the outset and throughout your course, you will have access to the round house which will form a centre point for teaching most modules throughout the course. Students will be able to stay in their own primitive nomadic style shelter or their own systems.
Equipment: This course is designed to show you exactly what you do not need! Initially you will need to be equipped with the usual items to make life comfortable in the woods (see our recommended kit list below). Our aim is to guide you through the process of replacing every piece of equipment on this list with handmade and natural alternatives or doing away with the item entirely; replacing toxic plastics and heavy metal items with weightless and indestructible knowledge.
During the course introduction module, we will set out the various modern pieces of equipment commonly listed as vital or highly desirable during an extended wilderness excursion. Alongside these we will talk you through the period equivalents, giving you the foundations for some of the projects during future modules.
Although the course is not linked to a definitive historical period or location, a large percentage of the work you will be producing is based on the equipment thought or known to have been carried by Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers and this will be complimented by contemporary bushcraft and survival training/ knowledge.
Module 1 - Welcome Weekend - 17th to 19th May 2024
Module 2 - Buckskin and Rawhide - 18th to 22nd July 2024
Module 3 - Shelters and Grass Mats - 27th to 29th September 2024
Module 4 - Stone and Bone Working - 24th to 26th November 2024
Module 5 - Bow Making - 21st to 23rd February 2025
Module 6 - Bark and Basketry - 25th to 27th April 2025
Module 7 - Clothing - 20th to 22nd June 2025
Module 8 - Fibres and Glues - 25th to 27th July 2025
Module 9 - Consolidation - 19th to 21st September 2025
Module 10 - Test Phase - 16th to 21st October 2025