Yesterday National Trust ranger Kate Martin caught up with TV adventurer and bushcraft expert Ray Mears at BBC Countryfile Live.
They were joined in the National Trust’s 50 things area at the festival by a group of children for a spot of den building.
Ranger Kate Martin shares the EIGHT things she learned, talking dens and survival with Britain’s top adventurer.
It’s one thing to build a den – another to sleep in it
Ray said: “What’s really important is not just to build a den – but use it for real.” Practicing the skill and feeling comfortable in the outdoors dispels fear, he told me . “And once that happens, the countryside becomes home.”
The best dens are small
Your shelter needs to be small – like a sleeping bag or small tent. It should fit you like a glove. Too big and you will freeze at night.
Use your bare hands
“You should be able to build a den with your bare hands”, Ray said, using deadwood from the forest floor.
Children are nature’s custodians
Ray and I both agree that kids need a connection with nature. Today’s children are the custodians of our environment. As Ray says, “it’s unfair to ask them to guard something if they don’t know how it should be in the first place.”
Disconnection from nature is a global problem
It’s a myth that only British or American kids are growing up without nature. Ray’s filmed in remote locations, where kids are still having to be dragged outdoors to be taught traditional ‘bushcraft’ skills.
Never sleep under a beech tree
We were building our shelters under an old beech tree – but you shouldn’t. They make a terrible camp site. Beech branches often crack and fall.
The hardest place to survive in is the desert
Don’t believe the TV, Ray said. It’s very difficult to find water in he desert. Spend time in the sun without water you’re toast.
Ray has ONE essential survival skill
Ray told me the essential survival skill was a sense of humour – it’s what he’d need if he were stuck on a desert island.
Join National Trust rangers at BBC Countryfile Live – until Sunday 7 August at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire