Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad 2013

Yesterday I was at Jokkmokk’s Historic Marknad (this is a small market held each year from Sunday to Wednesday, prior to the main market starting on Thursday), where I spent quite a bit of time demonstrating making fire with the bow-drill.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

fire making jokkmokks marknad

jokkmokk 2013

One Sámi man was really interested to see the bow-drill in use and I ended up giving him my bow-drill set so that he could practise making fire with it at home.

jokkmokks marknad 2013

Primitive skills weekend – Part 2

After lunch there were more workshops including cordage making

Prim skills-18 (Medium)

and by mid afternoon we were preparing food for our evening meal.  On both days the main meal was cooked in a pit.  A pit had already been dug and into this we made a fire.

Prim skills-19 (Small)

Once there was a good bed of embers a layer of wet hay was put over the embers (on Sunday Nick cut a large amount of Stinging Nettles which were used instead) and the meat, having been wrapped in hay was then placed in the pit (we had Roe and Muntjac deer and some Wild Boar)

Prim skills-20 (Medium)

Another layer of wet hay/Stinging Nettles were then added and finally another fire was made on top

Prim skills-21 (Small)

The pit was then left for four hours.

A piece of lean meat from the Roe Deer was held back, sliced into thin strips and hung by the fire to make jerky.

Prim skills-22 (Small)

After 14 hours by the fire with the smoke keeping insects away, it had dried just right as venison jerky.

Prim skills-25 (Medium)

As dusk approached the meat was removed from the pit

Prim skills-23 (Medium)

Everyone enjoyed the evening meal and afterwards there was a primitive fancy dress competition

Prim skills-24 (Small)

and the rest of the evening was spent eating more and drinking some very strange concoctions.

On Sunday morning after breakfast there were more activities and I ran a bow-drill and wet tinder workshop for a small group.

Prim skills-26 (Medium)

Hannah from Natural Pathways was keen to try the wet tinder oven.

Prim skills-27 (Small)

I spent a lot of time chatting with Hannah and her assistant instructors Lief and Sal.  I would highly recommend there survival and nature awareness courses held in Kent.

By early afternoon people were starting to leave and after the final workshop I also headed home

Teaching Sea Cadets

Last Friday evening I left work and headed down the M11 to Hoddesdon, to help teach Sea Cadets bushcraft and outdoor living skills as part of there Expedition Leaders Assessment, at the invitation of my friend George and the London North East District Sea Cadets.

I arrived just before dark, to a deserted campsite, so walked around to find the best location to set up, under a dense area of Holly. I found the two longest logs I could find and put them parallel to each other and then filled the space between with 18 inches of leaves as a mattress. The picture below was taken the following morning hence the compressed leaves.

My Reindeer skin provided additional insulation

and then I used my summer bag and bivy bag from the US Sleep System.

As the evening progressed cadets and leaders arrived, as did a large number of Police cadets and leaders using the site at the same time as ourselves. It was a good chance to catch up with old friends (I ran a course for some of the instructors 18 months ago) and make new ones. Advertised as “one of the UK ‘s leading bushcraft and outdoor skills instructors” I felt a little nervous on Saturday morning but thankfully I would be working with “one of the UK’s second best bushcraft instructors”……… ;>)

After breakfast we started the day with shelter building. We split the cadets into two groups and made two different shelters

One group made a lean-to

The other group made a kennel shelter

After lunch we spent the afternoon teaching firelighting. Methods included firesteel, flint and steel, bow-drill and pump-drill.

This is Chris who at 14 is one of the most enthusiastic students I have ever had and already posses a variety of skills.

He achieved his first fire using the bow-drill.

Unfortunately I had to depart late afternoon (missing out on navigation, tracking and cooking over/in a campfire) to travel to rural Norfolk for a very special event which I will write about next time!


A friend (Will) of mine was shown how to make fire by friction by Patrick Cave-Brown. He used a system based on the Egyptian Bow-drill. Will had made several different bow-drill sets on his pole-lathe and gave them to me to test. From those tests I designed a set specific for me which we then made and this is it.

The drill is made from Ash and has a tapered hole in the bottom into which a wooden plug is inserted. The plug in this picture is made from Hazel. The other end of the drill has been reduced in diameter and fits into a hole drilled in the bearing block (made from Yew in this case). The base of the bearing block sits on the “shoulder” of the drill and once a polished finish is achieved between the two pieces of wood an almost frictionless joint is achieved! The fastest I have produced an ember with this system so far is 10 seconds and have never failed to achieve an ember while using it. My preferred woods thus far are a Hazel drill tip and Cricket Bat Willow hearth.

I have now pressure flaked some flint “drill bits” and set them into wooden plugs using Lime bark cordage as a lashing and a mix of pine resin and bees wax.

The primitive “drill bit” is then inserted into the end of the bow-drill.

Here I am using it to drill a hole through a piece of antler and it works incredibly well.

Poplar, wet tinder and a brew

Found this fallen Poplar tree while out walking.

The bark can be used as a bearing block for the bow-drill and I have used it to make floats for fishing nets.

The bark is also good to burn as it burns slowly, smouldering rather than flaming and gives off a a lot of heat (the end of a long piece can be placed in a fire and once smouldering, used to carry fire with you).

To make a fire for a brew, I collected a hand full of damp leaves from the ground and rubbed them vigorously between my hands to break down the fibres and remove moisture. I placed these on the ground and using flint and steel, sparked onto a piece of Crampball fungus and once glowing, placed it on the leaves. I then placed another handful of buffed leaves on top leaving a small cavity around the fungus. By gently blowing, the glowing Crampball produces heat and the cavity acts like an oven to hold heat and gradually remove moisture from the leaves. Eventually the leaves will dry sufficiently for a flame to appear.

Once the fire was sufficiently large enough to burn small fuel sized sticks, I added the poplar bark.

After the billy can of water had boiled, I was able to enjoy a cup of vegetable stock.

I also found a nice specimen of Artists Fungus on the fallen Poplar tree. When you mark the white underside with a blunt stick it turns black.

Here is a rather nice example I found on another website.