Family bushcraft activities

Wild North Discovery

Bushcrafts, wild food foraging, birdwatching, wildlife, nature and ancient craft skills in North East England and the North West Highlands of Scotland


Activity leader

Coracle made with willowYour activity leader is Bruce Ferguson. He has been sharing his passionate interest in the natural world with young and old alike for thirty years. Working as a professional naturalist since 1985 he is a knowledgeable and skilled environmental interpreter as well as a qualified biologist, botanist and keen birdwatcher. He has been involved in woodcrafts and bushcrafts since 1987.

"Originally with two years at agricultural college and after employment as a shepherd and stockman I moved to work in countryside management in 1985.

For fifteen years my work involved the conservation and management of a number of local authority owned sites including a large ancient woodland nature reserve, coniferous plantations, grassland, scrub and wetland. During this time I became proficient in habitat survey work; Phase 1, Phase 2 and NVC. I also produced conservation management plans for all the areas under my control. Survey work included identification of invertebrates, birds, amphibians and small mammal populations as well as botanical work. In addition to the conservation side of the work I spent a great deal of time leading educational visits for schools, colleges and university groups and guided walks for the general public. I also developed my skills in environmental interpretation which later was to become a major part of the business I set up in 1999 and continue to run. During my time as a ranger I took an Open University degree in Natural Sciences with Biology and achieved a 2.1 with honours.

My interest in woodlands, working with greenwood and bushcrafts developed during the fifteen years that I managed ancient woodland for the local authority. In 1987 we were the first Countryside Service in the Northeast to run woodcraft weekends for the general public. These comprised building a traditional earth covered charcoal clamp (a few years later we started using a metal kiln), a charcoal burner's hut and running hands-on demonstrations of old crafts including greenwood turning on a pole lathe, willow basket weaving, besom making and hazel hurdles; visitors could join in for as long as they liked as we were there all day and all night for three days. My interest in bushcraft developed as a natural extension of my interest in greenwood skills. Making our own shelter as the ancient charcoal burners did, using the materials found around them in the wood, brought an interest in how the woodlands and natural world provided many of the things of everyday life to our ancestors such as food, shelter, medicine and building materials.

I later produced charcoal commercially and for a number of years sold through the national Bioregional Charcoal Group mainly to B&Q and through our own collective group of burners in the Northeast under the banner Great North Charcoal, to local garden centres and garages.

Greenwood working, in particular greenwood turning on a pole lathe has remained a hobby since and I am a founder member of the Tees Valley Greenwood Group, a small but dedicated band.

In 1995 I was invited by Houghall College in Durham to deliver lectures to their National Diploma in Land Use and Recreation students in a range of subjects from woodland management, conservation and survey to visitor management and countryside recreation. I have been a visiting lecturer continuously since then, until 1999 for Houghall College, and since 1999 as a visiting lecturer for the University of Sunderland to BSc and MSc students. In 1999 I left paid employment to concentrate fully on freelance work.

In addition to my degree, other relevant qualifications include the Technicians Certificate in Arboriculture, a wide range of chainsaw use certificates, a current first aid certificate and a bushcraft competency certificate for teaching groups examined and awarded by the Institute for Outdoor Learning. I also have a recent, current DBS check."


Gift Vouchers

The ideal present; buy a half or full day activity gift voucher open for use on any of our activities emailed direct to you.