Based on a skills needs survey conducted by DDCA in 2022, it was identified that outdoor training was one of the top desired services in the community. I reached out to the environmental education organisation Wild Things and during the past month, Dufftown residents have learnt new, practical bushcraft skills. This week I went along to their workshops to learn everything from plant identification to tying different types of knots.
We met at Megs Widd and gathered our kits and tools for the day. After a short walk into the woods we found a clearing suitable to set up a shelter. Paul the instructor showed me how to tie a Siberian hitch knot and a tautline hitch knot. With just a tarp and some string we managed to make a great little shelter!
With our base camp set up, we ventured further into the woods to find material for making various crafts. We collected elder branches and nettles, and identified some of the plants around us. As a kid, I always used to snack on wood sorrel when I was in the woods, and I was pleasantly surprised that Megs Widd is full of it! It also contains plenty of blaeberry bushes but last year the crop was rather sparse up there. Hopefully there will be more this year.
Once back under our shelter, we learnt how to make beads and nettle cord. You cut the elder branches up in inch-long pieces and poke out the soft wood in the middle, which leaves you with a bead that you can paint or carve patterns on. I focused on the nettles, which I stripped the leaves off and split the stalk with a stone. I then twinned the inner fibres together to make a cord. Using the cord and the beads together, you can make lots of different things!
Paul and the other participants showed me their nature diaries. This is a notebook you can take with you when you are outdoors and use as you like. One participant had drawn sketches of the plants and wildlife they had come across during the workshops. Another participant had used it to make notes of the different activities and skills they have covered so far. I really like the idea of a nature diary that you can use both as a log book of what you see in the woods as well as your thoughts and feelings. Anyone that has spent time outdoors will know that it is a great way to clear your head and re-charge the mental batteries.
I’m thankful that Wild Things has provided this bushcraft course in Dufftown and I hope the participants have found it valuable.