Survival in the UK

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bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
Reading a recent thread, i was surprised at how many people routinely carry knives in the UK ('surprised' is a softer and less contentious word than 'concerned'.) as I've had a Swiss army knife in the lid pocket of my rucksack for about 20 years and i can't recall ever having used it. I go out for the day a lot with no kit and only a couple of cheats - i can freely choose the place and time (not the mountains in winter for example) and pub meals feature a lot in the itinery, but the thread got me thinking - can i manage overnight in the UK with no kit at all?
Anyway, now that spring is (almost) here, i'm going to have a crack at it. Richard Mabey says that 'playing at survival is, i feel, the unacceptable face of foraging, smacking of SAS endurance tests...' but an SAS endurance test is not what i'm looking for - I'm just questioning the need for a rucksack full of gear, not in the UK at least, and then taking it a couple of steps further. You need water, of course, but with a little planning, you can get it in situ and you can manage without hot food for quite a while. These chaps: http://v-g.me.uk/index.htm have something interesting to say about water - "We never treat collected water in any way. Period. We never boil the water either, in fact in the summer months we don't even carry a pan and stove. People worry too much.".
So - any advice that people would like to give? Any pointers? Anybody do this on a regular basis?
Cheers.
 

mrcharly

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
3,246
33
North Yorkshire, UK
The main risk in the UK, IMHO, is hypothermia, not dehydration. Very easy to get wet and cold.
So just decent clothing is enough for most of the year.

The not treating water thing is pfft. If you aren't concerned about liver fluke (hey, who cares about parasites eating your liver?), then most water in the outdoors is drinkable.
 

sxmolloy

Full Member
Mar 22, 2006
1,421
14
44
lancashire, north west england
I agree with Qwerty.

As long as you keep relatively warm and dry it's possible most people will be able to do this.

Just eat and drink when you get back home, no need to take anything with you other than the clothes on your back.
 

joe o

Member
Feb 14, 2011
29
0
Wiltshire
Hmmm, I can completely understand what would be driving you to see how little you actually need to carry but don't let that ideal overshadow the fact that YOU are responsible for your own safety if things didn't go to plan. What you're proposing relies quite heavily on weather conditions, location and your personal skill level and knowledge all being sufficiently good enough to guarantee success. There's no room for manouvre by the looks of things. People often carry a rucksack full of gear because they're thinking of their own safety and comfort (doesn't have to be a big rucksack..). Bushcraft as a subject is largely based around a desire to be self-reliant. Having to call in mountain rescue because it's rained in the night, your improvised shelter isn't working as well as hoped, your clothing is soaked and ineffective, you haven't eaten and have used up any accessible stored energy ...all of which means that your core temperature is dropping dangerously fast, isn't really honing your self-reliance skills. This is a scenario that could happen at pretty much anytime of the year in the UK and it's perfectly feasible that one long night outdoors with no kit could be enough to finish you off.


Ultimately this all comes down to whether you're 'playing at survival' as Richard Mabey puts it (in which case your only real goal is to keep breathing through your self-imposed ordeal and get back to civilisation) or practicing bushcraft (which means any number of things depending on who you talk to but could be summed up in part by saying that bushcraft is a study of natural resources and how they were/are used to improve a persons safety, comfort and enjoyment of the outdoors). To carry less but supplement from the wilds requires several factors - having sufficient, useable natural resources - knowing how to use them - having the time and energy to do so effectively. So....if you have a choice of location, you sensibly choose a resource rich site (most likely woodlands with a water source) to help you along. Shelter is an essential priority for survival. Fire isn't essential for survival if your shelter is good enough, you're wearing the right (dry) clothing and in relatively good health ...but... it does turn an uncomfortable survival exercise into a self-sustaining, longer term, enjoyable experience (thereby potentially replacing a sleeping bag) . Creating shelter and fire without a metal cutting tool is theoretically possible but a lot more likely (but still bloomin hard) with one, even a swiss army knife! People who have experience of living comfortably outdoors with very little realise the importance of a metal cutting tool. This is why knives are carried as part of a sensible and self-sustaining kit. Of course they can become a status symbol, especially given their importance to bushcraft but to view them as anything other than a tool in the context of outdoor living quite frankly makes ME concerned for the people who are concerned.

As for the water thing...it's certainly true that a natural water source is less likely to be contaminated, the higher up you go (the link you gave looked as though they were favouring mountain environments) but there's always the potential for unseen contamination further upstream. Again, it all comes down to comfort and what you're hoping to get out of the experience. If you're intending to come home again the following day then you might make it back before the worst of the squits began....or not... :). If your intention is to make yourself comfortable through the night with very little then see above. You'll then most likely be lower down, possibly in or around woodlands and the potential for drinking contaminated water much more likely.

I'm not sure if I can post a link to my blog but luckily someone else has here http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=105244 . There's an article on there about a week I spent living wild last year with very limited kit and clothing. Keep in mind that all activities described have been practiced and honed before attempting the challenge. Day one of a long week is definitely not the time to try the bow drill for the first time!

Hope all that helps and I'd be interested to hear others experiences and views too

Cheers

Joe
 

HillBill

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 1, 2008
8,114
61
W. Yorkshire
Can you manage/survive in the UK with no kit at all overnight?

You'd find it very difficult, "NOT" to survive a couple of nights at least. If you had water then much longer, IMO.

This coming from someone who was homeless at 16 through the winter. :)
 
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boatman

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 20, 2007
2,444
4
75
Cornwall
Of course one could take a thermos flask filled with something hot and a packet of sandwiches and could spend a very pleasant night, emphasise could.

Not sure if I have posted this about an Australian friend of the author Showell Styles but it's worth repeating. Many years ago she would go camping with vitrually nothing. First thing she did was to buy a broadsheet newspaper and a tin of stew. Overnight lit a fire and heated the stew, slept wrapped in the newspaper. In the morning converted the stew tin into a billy for brewing tea. Burned the newspaper and went on her way. Ok, very much pre-war domestic adventuring but then Sussex and similar counties were still rural havens. See the books "Romantic Britain" and "Countryside Companion" edited, I think, by Tom Stephenson for the flavour of the country then.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,764
675
Mercia
Reading a recent thread, i was surprised at how many people routinely carry knives in the UK ('surprised' is a softer and less contentious word than 'concerned'.) as I've had a Swiss army knife in the lid pocket of my rucksack for about 20 years and i can't recall ever having used it.

Today, so far, my folding pocket knife has been used to:



Trim to size a frame for a beehive

Slice excess off the side of a sheet of wax foundation

Trim a sucker from the base of a Victoria plum tree

Open a plastic sack in the barn

Cut a couple of cable ties securing netting to a frame

Scrape grit from under an allen bolt

Cut string

Strip insulation from a wire



Tell me - which of these activities give you such concern?
 

swotty

Space and time
Apr 25, 2009
1,815
204
Somerset
Today, so far, my folding pocket knife has been used to:



Trim to size a frame for a beehive

Slice excess off the side of a sheet of wax foundation

Trim a sucker from the base of a Victoria plum tree

Open a plastic sack in the barn

Cut a couple of cable ties securing netting to a frame

Scrape grit from under an allen bolt

Cut string

Strip insulation from a wire



Tell me - which of these activities give you such concern?

Yep, I've got to agree with Red. I have carried a knife since I was 14 i'm now 45, I've used it several times every day, I do however do a physical job so this can be from sharpening a pencil to cutting thick rope, i've never stabbed anyone, except myself on several occassions!

I hope you have no concern about this?
 
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jiffi

Nomad
Jun 24, 2010
312
0
Castle Douglas, Scotland
I go nowhere without my spiderco delica in my pocket and my f1 in my daypack I carry to work and use the spidey everyday and the f1 most days. I see no cause for concern as they are tools today the spidey was used to cut carpet squares to level a customers dresser, cut open lots of tape and various other jobs!
 

Llwyd

Forager
Jan 6, 2013
242
1
Eastern Canada
Survival is knowing what dumpsters to raid for food and what train stations to sleep in. Survival in the country is easier as there are no predators.

It's a little different over here.
 

Dunx

Full Member
Apr 8, 2013
303
0
West Wales
Reading a recent thread, i was surprised at how many people routinely carry knives in the UK ('surprised' is a softer and less contentious word than 'concerned'.) as I've had a Swiss army knife in the lid pocket of my rucksack for about 20 years and i can't recall ever having used it.

This is what I hate about things today... Ive had a knife pretty much as long as I can remember (before this stupid legal carry size stuff cut the blade sizes down). As a kid it was fun playing in the woods etc... making bows and spears, dens, and enjoying myself, and respecting the tool in my hand (only so many times you'll accidently cut yourself haha). Admittedly Ive dont use it everyday but i have used them regularly and its a good tool to have with you. I fail to see how my or others on here having a knife upon our persons should cause you any concern?

I also drive a car pretty much daily, which I believe is capable of causing more damage than a pocket knife, is this also a concern?

Im sorry for the rant but this is a big pet peeve of mine.

In regards to you spending a night out without kit, youve already mentioned that pub meals feature heavily so why not just step it up to a B and B ?

However spending a night which you freely choose where and when, isnt really a challenge. How many here have in their lifetime not been out laying in a field or beach at night and just stayed there the night without any kit?
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
Yes, i suppose i'm talking about sleeping rough really. Many thanks for the replies, especially:

Can you manage/survive in the UK with no kit at all overnight?

You'd find it very difficult, "NOT" to survive a couple of nights at least. If you had water then much longer, IMO.

This coming from someone who was homeless at 16 through the winter. :)
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
Im sorry for the rant

Well chill out then. This is not a post about knives.

youve already mentioned that pub meals feature heavily so why not just step it up to a B and B?

Good question. As a kid i used to take off for a day with a 3d bar of Highland toffee in my pocket. No water. No sandwiches. No hot flask. As a grown-up i fancy taking it a little further, that's all there is to it.
 

rik_uk3

Banned
Jun 10, 2006
13,320
21
67
south wales
Someone like Red whose a keen gardener/small holder will use a knife and if the rest of us carry one you'll tend to 'find' a need to use it, the majority don't actually 'need' a knife.

The group talking about not treating water made it plain they were talking about remote mountainous UK regions and to be honest I'd not overly worry in certain areas either but with water filter bottles so cheap why take the risk?
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
The group talking about not treating water made it plain they were talking about remote mountainous UK regions and to be honest I'd not overly worry in certain areas either but with water filter bottles so cheap why take the risk?

Another good question. But you start with a water filter bottle & you add a cup to drink it from & maybe a pan to heat up a brew & then the tea or coffee & maybe something to eat and a cooker & sleeping bag for a warm night & a tarp to keep you dry & pretty soon you're back where you started.
 
N

Nomad

Guest
Another good question. But you start with a water filter bottle & you add a cup to drink it from & maybe a pan to heat up a brew & then the tea or coffee & maybe something to eat and a cooker & sleeping bag for a warm night & a tarp to keep you dry & pretty soon you're back where you started.

Why would that happen? If you're not naked in the woods, banging rocks together, you're using equipment of some sort or another. Why should the use of some sort of equipment mean some inexorable downward spiral into "gearism"? Presuming your no kit outing entails wearing clothing, you'll no doubt have a support team following you about with a Land Rover full of gear in no time.
 

bivouac

Forager
Jan 30, 2010
234
0
Three Counties
Why should the use of some sort of equipment mean some inexorable downward spiral into "gearism"?

Because it usually does. Rick's got plenty of stoves - i've got 5. I got to thinking that 5 was maybe too many & maybe even 1 is too many. That was a downward spiral into thinking zero.
 

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