Woodsman's Diary, January 2024
Written by Peter Forrester, Bushcraft Instructor
January, the start of a new year new beginnings and for many resolutions are made to improve themselves and their lives during the coming months. In the outdoors however it can seem bleak and grim as winter holds firm its cold grip (or rather, wet! Here in Northern England) this perceived grimness can cause even the most hardy outdoors people to want to remain indoors until the days get longer, but all is not as it seems.
Getting outside in these rougher months can be hugely rewarding and greatly beneficial for anyone wanting to improve their woodcraft skills for the coming year. For me, January sees me brushing up on some of the fundamental skills of bushcraft. Frequently through this month I’ll be out practicing my firelighting skills, the worse the weather, the better the practice. If I can get a flame kindled in driving rain and 50 mile per hour winds whilst everything is saturated to its core then getting a fire going on a summers night will be much less of a chore.
January is also a fantastic time to get out and start learning the some of our forageable foods, with the often confusing backdrop of spring and summer long dead and rotted away it's much easier to spot and identify, whilst there isn’t much on the wild menu this early in the year, keep an eye out for wood ear fungi (Auricularia auricula-judae) dangling from old elder trees and tiny Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsuta) hiding on the forest floor. Look a little closer and you’ll see the pale shoots of sticky weed (Galium aparine) starting to appear, and occasionally the gleaming, alien looking bulbs of blue bells dug up by and discarded by badgers ready to burst into life, hinting that spring is just around the corner.
Find out more about Peter and his outdoor adventures over on his YouTube Channel