Putting the kettle on in the woodsThe woods are quieter in the Winter, at least it seems that way. Tiny creatures that scurried around at harvesting time are bedded down, warm and snug.

They pop their heads out occasionally to sniff the air and grab a bite to eat from their hidden stores.

When the snow blanketed the woodland, trails of tiny footprints could be seen making tracking very easy. But now the snow has melted and left the leaf litter damp and squishy, you have to look closely to see evidence of animal movement.

The first thing I noticed was tiny green shoots poking through the fallen leaves. They are everywhere and a welcome promise of Spring soon arriving.

Bluebells – the woods will soon be covered by a vast carpet of the nodding flowers. But before that the snowdrops will unfurl into the cool air. They are around four inches tall already but no flower heads yet. Even as far South as Kent, Winter still holds sway.

Jelly Ear FungusThere are plenty of fungi around though. Good eating on this old log is the Jelly Ear Fungus. They don’t have much of a flavour of their own but soak up the flavours of whatever they are cooked with. And they’ve been used for all kinds of medicinal purposes over the years – from throat ailments to eye infections, haemorrhoids to angina.

But my favourite part of a day in the woods will always be getting a fire going and putting a brew on. There’s nothing that will give you a sense of place more than a fire crackling in its pit, warming a kettle full of water.

Bushcraft Camp KitchenInstead of my usual coffee, I tried some pine needle tea. Breaking up the long needles into tiny pieces and pouring on hot water I expected a strong scent from the brew. There wasn’t much of a smell, or much of a taste in the drinking, but I know my body was glad of the boost in Vitamin C.

We had a lovely time soaking up the atmosphere in the woods as the smoke drifted lazily through the bare trees. A real sense of excitement about the bushcraft courses coming up this year and even more so about the ideas we shared for more inspiring courses.

If you want to reconnect with nature or learn some new skills there’s no better place to start than Natural Pathways – what are you waiting for?

The woods are calling……

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