Go wild in the country: Let your children learn to love the great outdoors on one of these thrilling survival courses
- The Bear Grylls Survival Academy runs 24-hour courses at three locations
- Play at being a castaway on the Jurassic Coast at Coastal Survival School
- Learn how to identify wildlife tracks at Wildwood Bushcraft course in Sussex
Have you exhausted the list of outdoor family activities during the pandemic? Then why not get the gang on board for a survival course when restrictions lift?
With spring almost upon us, outdoor centres are offering bushcraft adventures suitable for everyone from timid tykes to go-getting grandparents.
Should you be a fan of his TV shows, then test your mettle to become a graduate of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. There are three 24-hour family survival courses – at the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor and the South Downs.
Back to nature: Crossing a river at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy
Don’t worry, you won’t be tasked with drinking your own urine or sleeping inside a camel’s carcass. But Bear’s team will show you how to cross rivers, track an animal, hone knife skills as you prepare a rabbit for dinner, and forage some materials to build a shelter where you’ll sleep before waking up bright and early to navigate your way back to base. Courses start from £219pp (beargryllssurvivalacademy.com).
At a weekend Wildwood Bushcraft course in Sussex, you’ll learn how to purify river water and identify wildlife tracks. Come nightfall, watch the mesmerising glow of a campfire instead of TV and cosy up in your sleeping bag for a night under the stars.
This course is self-catering, so remember to stash a few easy-to-cook meals in your backpack, (plus loo roll for the pit latrine). The two-day breaks cost £110 per person (wildwoodbushcraft.com).
It’s not quite Tom Hanks in the hit movie Castaway, but discover how to get out of a crisis with the Coastal Survival School. Here, each family member can play at being a castaway on a stretch of beach along the Jurassic Coast in west Dorset. Learn how to create a signal for rescue and navigate your way along the shore to safety.
Experienced guides will show you what useful morsels the English Channel has to offer, from sea kale to plump mussels. They’ll also touch on how to stay mentally strong in the case of being marooned, so you can make calm decisions. The two-day course, with a night of beach camping, costs £138pp (coastalsurvival.com).
For those who don’t fancy sleeping in a tent or makeshift shelter, roll on over to 7th Rise. This quirky bushcraft school near Truro in Cornwall was set up by outdoorsman and TV presenter Thom Hunt.
A mum and daughter learn how to create fire at 7th Rise near Truro in Cornwall
Thom describes survival courses as the ‘ultimate family bonding experience because everyone gets to enjoy the satisfaction of completing a task together’. Adventure-seekers are tested even before arrival at 7th Rise, as the secluded venue takes quite a bit of finding. Once you’ve trekked across three fields, down a steep track and through ancient oak woodland, you’ll find Penperth, a delightfully renovated blacksmith’s cottage which serves as camp. There is also a treehouse and a converted potting shed if you’re after a more off-the-wall place to sleep.
Classes include how to butcher a freshly caught deer, tuck into a delicious fire-roasted dinner with a spoon you carved earlier in the day, and go canoeing on the River Fal in front of the cottage. Fully catered weekends cost £315pp (7thrise.co.uk). The outdoors educational charity, Field Studies Council, encourages everyone to leave tech at home before venturing on to one of its three-day courses. Andy Pratt, who manages the FSC base in Somerset – a picturesque Tudor manor house on the edge of Exmoor – describes courses as ‘the ultimate remedy to lockdown boredom’.
He adds: ‘Learning some survival skills, even if it’s as simple as cooking on an open fire, brings with it a sense of adventure and excitement and, let’s face it, isn’t that what everyone is craving after months of home-schooling!’ Prices start from £144pp (field-studies-council.org).
The Family Foraging Kitchen offers free courses to low-income families. Pictured is the Rame peninsula
If you’re strapped for both for time and cash, then navigate your way to the beautiful Rame peninsula in Cornwall.
The Family Foraging Kitchen (familyforagingkitchen.co.uk) offers free courses to low-income families, otherwise, it’s just £25 per adult while children and grandparents go free.
Pick up some seaweed from the beach during a coastal walk and learn how to cook it or grab a handful of dandelion leaves to make a surprisingly delicious salad.