Get into the woods! by Tim Latter

Sitting in the woodland, on a carpet of sphagnum moss, under a canopy of broadleaf. The sweet scent of wildflowers infuses with the musky smell of earth. I feel at one, I feel at home.

I’m going to spend the weekend here – I’ve found that perfect spot, a natural clearing deep in the wood. Maybe I’m the first person to stumble upon this site for years. The sun can touch the floor here, and like a paint brush dipped in green paint the rays have decorated everything it has stroked.

Silhouettes of butterflies spiraling, tumbling & the sound of birdsong fill the air. I immerse myself into solitude.

A deep breath fills my lungs with pure, clean air. I feel lucky, like a kid on his birthday – this is all for me, the woodland is my gift.

Right, let’s setup camp. Simple really. Everything I need is in my rucksack. I hang my hammock & tarp in between two perfectly positioned trees, as if they grew there especially for me. I look up to make sure there are no widow makers, all clear, I’ll be safe.

Next out of the bag is my trusty knife & axe. I only use tools that I trust – reliable tools, these will help build the creature comforts of camp & more importantly keep me warm & fed by means of fire. With fire in mind, thoughts stray to a nice warm brew – so in search of firewood I go.

Fantastic! I’ve found a fallen silver birch. I take my knife & scrape off a handful of the outer layer of bark – This is filled with oil that readily takes a spark from my ferro rod. Using my axe I baton the logs to get to the dry timber inside, then using my knife I whittle some feather sticks and before long I’ve got myself a warming fire. “Bushcraft tv” as I like to call it, as once it’s switched on I’m hooked.

Right where was I? That’s it – tea! With precision I swing my axe at the base of a hazel tree & cut off the perfect pole. Using my knife I execute the necessary cuts to transform it into a pot hanger.

No tea bags here but a bunch of nettles make the best woodland brew.

While I wait for the pot to boil I focus my attention on carving some pegs, a job made easy with a razor sharp knife. These will do the job of pegging down my tarp.

The nettle tea goes down a treat, I can now see, smell, feel & taste the wild which conjures up images of our woodland dwelling ancestors in my mind.

Like a magician I pull a rabbit from my bag, still furry – I picked it up from a local farmer who culled it as part of his pest control. I’m not at all squeamish, I know where my food comes from. Unlike the packets of meat you buy in the supermarket – which is so disconnected from its original state – I get to look into the eye of my quarry & it reminds me to feel grateful & respect life. With my knife in hand the beast is soon butchered. Looking more like supermarket meat than fluffy bunny, along with a handful of wild garlic and other spices, into the pot it goes. Yum.

The sunlight is quickly disappearing, slipping into the trees. The woodland that has become familiar changes it’s guise. The last of the songbirds singing their final goodnight are taken over by the nightshift hoot of owls. Bats race where butterflies once fluttered. My senses become heightened & I involuntary react to the slightest of sounds that emit from the darkness – but I feel safe in the knowledge that I have all the firewood prepared to see me through the night. As I lay my head down, my hammock slightly sways in the breeze. I happily drift into slumber a part of my surrounding, not a spectator.

Why do we do this? Why not spend the weekend at home or in a hotel? Why struggle to find & chop firewood? Why prepare game meat? Well – I could bore you with my reasons like, wanting to get closer to nature, reconnecting with the land & the fact I’ve watched Lord of the Rings too many times. But my reasons aren’t important – what’s important are your reasons & you’ll have to go out there & find them. Once you do, you’ll find yourself regularly going back to recharge.

See you in the woods.