Northern Wilderness, A Haven for All

We all face roadblocks when it comes down to Bushcraft, permissions, stealth camping, dog walkers, public access routes. Scares of angry famers chasing you off their land, or park wardens moving you on. Finding a place to practice and enjoy wild camping and bushcraft can be a huge task in itself. This can be  an overwhelming factor to someone new to the game. I am lucky enough to have a great organisation on my doorstep in Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Club who are based in Finchdale, County Durham.

In my novice months of spending time outdoors, I panicked, hustled for a patch of land to call home. Where I felt not only safe but surrounded by people who were there for the same reason as myself. 
Dont get me wrong for some the process can still be overwhelming, stepping into a group of well established bushmen as a novice, worrying about your skills not being up to parr. Not here.

The club was founded by Steven Taylor. A bushcraft expert and well renowned local pillar in the bushcraft community. Key at NW is conservation and learning, you can feel these aspects in absolutely everything Steven promotes: wether it be through his Youtube Channel or his Instagram page, the theme runs throughout. A constant respect for your surroundings.

Everything the club stands for you feel when you walk onto the land, the respect they show their surroundings and for each other. The group certainly has a family feel, an uncle here, a cousin there... instantly I felt like a relative who'd been away for a while.

He is  well travelled man (ten minutes simply talking to him would make that clear) who has lead a variety of trips worldwide including Norway and Alaska. His list of accomplishments include: dog sledding, winter survival and sea rescue.
Steve himself is a professional bushcraft instructor and expedition guide. He radiates an immense passion for outdoor life and is clearly a wilderness enthusiast. Teaching is something he has enjoyed for most of his adult life and you can see why. There is an almost glint in his eye when he is instructing, only confirming his true passion in what he does.

The club has grown and adapted over the 15+ years it has been around, as the bushcraft community has moved forward with the times of internet learning and youtube channels growing day by day. The club stepped away from direct courses based around bushcraft and survival and now approach teaching in a much more friendly, less structured format through their Bushcraft Moots. This friendly approach to teaching offers visitors the chance to dip their toe for a weekend, learn some skills from one of their various instructors whilst feeling welcome and relaxed.

There is real variety in the members at the club. Ladies and gentlemen from a vast variety of occupations and backgrounds. Theres: store managers, teachers, chefs, locksmiths... the club genuinely holds no biased, welcomes all and teaches all.

NW is a non profit project put in place to conserve the area. The monthly meets help to fund the project, this makes it a one of a kind place in the UK. Many local schools and youth groups book for visits and these funds also go towards funding the conservation of the area.

For someone starting out, budget can be a vital factor in participation. I found that my purse strings were already tight with my basic living costs to be able to afford a high priced course. I consider myself very lucky I happened to fall upon the group at NW.

As soon as I arrived I was greeted by everyone around the basecamp fire; located under a ex military parachute for cover this central meeting point is the first thing visitors see. A purpose built 'kitchen' is close by, handy for group meals. Seating surrounds the fire and is used for meetings, meals and just a central meeting point.

The camp also sports a sawdust toilet and a wood store close by, you are almost spoilt by the luxuries available. Especially if you turned up expecting to see an area of woodland with a few blokes in hammocks.
Everybody would go out of their way to greet the new guy, introducing themselves and getting familiar with new arrivals. The values the group promotes just seem to emanate from all its members.

I find myself at an dilemma: if groups like this in mass up and down the UK, bushcraft would be widely available, profusely safe and would grow exponentially. However with such a dilution of groups, would Northern Wilderness lose its edge? Simple answer... No! Northern Wilderness Bushcraft is one of a kind in the UK, a haven to all who wish to learn, to survive and to simply enjoy the outdoors.

More information on the group can be found on the website or their Facebook page.



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