The wilderness gathering 2012

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Full Member
Apr 15, 2010
Hi...ok here goes....Wilderness Gathering 2012 10th Anniversary write-up....enjoy!

Thursday 16th

This was going to be a poignant meet for me for several reasons....1...last year my employer wouldn't even give me 4 hours off to enable me to do the whole weekend which led to much bad feeling...this year it wasnt a problem (not my employer anymore) a relative newcomer to leatherwork/bushcraft and BCUK i was going to learn a lot and finally get to meet some of the 'regulars' this last year i've been priveleged to become friends with steve581 through Headley 1st Scouts and it was our first outing together...4...and....10th anniversary....wikid....lovely to be part of it!

me and steve arrived pretty sharpish about 13:30 (angela and lil' man oliver to follow on about 20:00) and there was already a bustling atmosphere and many people set up in the woods...nice vibe straight off...recognised some of the people on the gate from last year and left a message that a mad lady/angela would be arriving later without a ticket as we had them (sure enough when she arrived they all called her 'mad lady' lol!). there'd been some heavy rain (which persisted for next 24 hours, turning everything to mud) which caused a few probs with parking for weekenders up at the top field and
i just want to make special mention of the scouts who dealt with it all....mainly a few young lads who spent 7/8/9 straight hours pushing cars up the slopes in rain and mud and maintaining a most impresive attitude, laughing all the way through it....admirable...and there was a quad on hand when needed too and everything went smoothly as it could.

then it was time to cart all our stuff plus 4 days of dry logs off into the woods...walikng through the main arena, seeing the traders setting up...i was on the lookout for an old friend and leatherworker, Tibor Eperjessy (, who i originally met at the Wood Fair in Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire ( and sure enough there he was setting up just as the rain started coming down again.



we wandered off down the main track and chose a site and got camp set up....steve was keen to try out his new DD hammock and tarp (and i think by the end he was happy...its seems that dd get good reviews everywhere you look...i'll be getting a tarp myself) and i was bivi-ing on the ground as usual with my trusty brit army setup. then we got a brew on and gathered sticks to go with our logs (as it turned out i think Bison/the w.g. staff had already been round 'tree surgeoning' and there was plenty of branches and decent (green) firewood readily available as well as already fallen dead-wood...seasoned logs are also available to buy and theres also a designated 'cutting area' where you can get your own larger bits) and did a bit of acclimatising...had a beautiful moment sitting under the tarp with a cuppa watching the smoke rise into the trees from the surrounding fires...held there by the rain.



we had perfect neighbours all round...behind us were 3 help for heroes reps (who found angelas fear of killer-slugs highly amusing lolol!) and on my left, some welsh guys who, being a complete newbie, i didnt realise till the sunday were actually top knife-maker Rob Evans (robevs73 on bcuk) and posse....his mate scott looked pretty pro with his fully kitted out bike and hammock/tarp permutations, me (a ground bivi-er) and steve (new hammock owner) learned a fair bit just watching them setting up.



then about 20:30 the mad lady and lil man arrived (bearing fish and chips) so it was more carting their kit to camp...lil mans hard core for a 2-year old but he still needs tent and decent food and by the time we'd all done we were all knackered and thinking about new careers as everest sherpas lol. we got a good fire on the go and went through the programme of events and then got our heads down.

quite a bit of rain overnight which continued on and off thru friday...i woke up and was instantly handed an epic fry-up and a cuppa...steve (being the uber-scout and ex-army) and angela (a professional nanny) are both early risers and had got the food on bless 'em...i however am an ex-raver and now 20-hours-a-day-leatherworker and am not good first thing....understatement of year lol!...even a ravenous bear with a sore head, bad piles and aggressive tendencies would steer clear. everybody (apart from me) was up and active and here we were...the wilderness gathering begins proper.

Friday 17th

i'd made a list of bcuk'ers i was hoping to hook up with who'd posted on my w.g. thread but first port of call was to be Sir Dave Budd, from whom i'd already ordered one of his Green Man blanks thru bcuk. i'd seen dave briefly the previous year so knew what to look out....sure enough there he was as always, covered already from head to toe in 'hard work', kneeling at his iron-age-dug-in-the-ground-forge chattin away to customers pumpin away on the bellows...upon approaching his stall i was exuberantly met by (and i'm warning y'all, this is where the pi**-takes begin...and i'm sure this dude will get me back!!! lololol!!) a Village-People-mustachio'ed man who turned out to be Chris the Cat...from this point on and for the next 48+ hours we didn't stop laughing....or learning.

SIR DAVE BUDD (bragging again...''honestly luv, its THIS big!'')




angela had gone off to do the wild food masterclass with John Rhyders Woodcraft School ('re based near where
we live in Midhurst, Hampshire and when lil man finally lets his dad save up the money needed i'll be doing my first bushcraft course with them...i've heard NOTHING but praise for their courses, pedigree, expertise and manner of instruction (and theyre approachable and friendly)...


JOHNRYHDERLOW.jpg me and steve and lil man spent a coupla hours+ gettin to know Chris the Madman and Sir Budd. (DISCLAIMER: I would like to say for the record that dave is a polite gentleman and a scholar of butter-wouldnt-melt-qualities and should not, by association, have his name slurred in any way by the frenetic, deranged, pervy, juicy and tweaked-nipple, musky antics of Chris the Cat hahahahhhhhahaha!!!). as requested dave produced my green man blade and after admiring his other (incredible) work i added one of his famous sporks to keep it company....i wish i'd been able to afford the damascus
spork!!! maybe next year....



...steve also purchased a spork and then after seeing daves 's'-shaped pot hangers asked if it was possible to have a few slightly larger ones made....not expecting dave to then drop everything and proceed to then forge them for him right there and about customer service! i'll be hilting the blade with oak....dave told me about dipping the oak into vinegar to blacken/darken it....(ends up looking 'bog-oak-ish')...hopefully i wont mess it up. i'm sitting here now, re-calling that afternoon....of chris with the COCKerel bangle and the ''ooops, sorry missus, i didnt mean to show you that one''....and
the, ahem, 'child-friendly' damascus drawing pins and the constant back and forward banter that literally had my ribs aching with laughter....oh and i got introduced to daves 'forge water'....a scary looking black bottle which, on this occasion, contained vodka with some huge chilli's soaking in chris said...''it'll put chest on your hairs'' lol!

upon angelas return it was time for food so we snuck off to the 'hidden' track that leads up to the opposite bank of the lake. we got some noodles on the hexamine for lil man and he ate opposed to me and steve who were guinea pigs for angelas new found knowlege....she got out her notebook and proceeded to instruct us on wild food....we sampled sedge biscuits which had honey and an egg in....not bad....some 'reed' (sorry i forget) fried in oil....chewy....and were made to sniff and sample a variety of plants ranging from minty-goodness thru to germolene scented. she sat there like Mrs
Mears laughing at us lololol! and we had a good discussion about the abundance of nature generally. Al Da Skillz Babe! XXX

then back to the main areas where i hooked up with tibor to say hello and catch up....then up to The Bushcraft Magazine stand (to be found in The Trading Post on bcuk or to find Mafro and Bardster in full effect. and right here again i'm gonna do some serious
BIGGING UP! lovely guys! i got chattin to bardster and within minutes he'd already offered to teach me spoon carving....he showed me his beautiful leather tankards and vessels and instructed me on his stitching methods (and yes bard i did go up to identity store ( to get the
handle-less awl...forgot to tell you).

back to camp for food....we got a nice blaze going and tried out steves wooden crate of ronnie sunshines goodies (
oven, hot plate some nice pieces of chicken on there...made a wonderful concoction of spiced beans, garlic salt, herbs, onions, spudz, tomatoes to go with darkness fell the live music started up in the distance...(how lovely is it sitting there in the trees with friends and loved ones at dusk, eating good food with a bulmers, with fellow 'crafters all around, smoke rising from campfires with acoustic guitar as a back-drop???....heaven....)...then off back to main food arena for the show...we got there a little late and lil man was all tired but wide-eyed at the goings on....guitarist and drummer lettin it out loud...we stocked up on Cidermans fruit cider and proceeded to get tipsy. all the traders were sitting around outside their stalls across the area at fires in the dark, chattin, people dancing, large crowd seated up enjoying the tunes, kids laughing and runnin about, chatting, learning.....and a whole lot of cider-fuelled banter goin on. wonderful. we had intended to go see The Dave Budd Man Creche but we were now pretty shattered and headed back to camp...lil man was out like a light so the 3 of us chilled by the fire for a bit then hit the hay.

Saturday 18th

eyes opened and ta-da....i'm handed another fry-up and a brew....not bad eh? and yeah the weather changed...boy did the sun come out HOT HOT HOT for the next 2 days...ICE CREAM TIME!!!



then angela off to do a fish course with Coastal Survival ( me and steve rolled in a bit later and found a hung-over chris the cat at daves stall and we were informed of his antics the previous night....check this....picture courtesy of duncan (FGYT on bcuk) of Dorset Woodland Blades (

he proceeded to flop around a bit trying to get sympathy and going on about how he needed a 'salt-lick' and fruit to help him rehydrate lol! we got the poor old boy a cuppa but trust me....even hung-over this guys unstoppable and by the time angela finished her class and finally met chris and dave properly he was running around cracking jokes like a whirlwind as normal...he then stripped off, paraded his nipples and gunz around for a photo-shoot then gratefully accepted an apple off angela and stashed it in the cup holder of his chair and proceeded to start licking mini-cheddars to get the salt off them
haha! and then up came 2 kool guys from bcuk....tinkypete and marmite...pleased to meet you guys!...

CHRIS THE CAT (legend...this was the only time he was actually serious...when the camera came out...what a poser lol!)






and we all sat around dehydrating and talking knives and stuff and watching dave work his magic. chris and dave were at it like husband and this ''dave...when you gonna eat something?''.....''in a bit''....''dave...when you gonna drink something?''....''in a bit''....''dave....dont forget to go to the toilet''....''in a bit''....lololol! it was at this point i decided to do a write-up back over to the bushcraft mag stand where i snapped mafro and bard and got chatting again....and the ever accomodating bardster then invited us back later that evening during the live entertainment to join them on their stall to teach us spoon carving (which all 3 of us have been meaning to make time for for ages....look out kepis! i'm on it now m8! lol!). oh, and steve picked up a large wrought iron tripod for 25 quid and a ben orford spoon knife ( angela bought wool, beads and jute and i got some tools from the identity store.





on way back to camp i got talking to one of the stall holders (sorry m8, i forget the name again!) at the sinks who was washing/prepping a load of snails for the nights supper....apparently you feed them on lettuce for a few days to fatten them up and flush them out....then starve for a coupla days to get them cleaned right out....wash them in cold water daily....then theyre ready to go...he was doing them with garlic and butter....all very kool with me however i couldnt help feeling that if i cared for them like that for a whole week i'd end up regarding them as pets lolol!

as it turned out the lil man threw a (rare) complete wobbler...and i mean a WOBBLER!....he crashed out....10 minutes later woke up screaming like the hounds of hell (or chris the cat) were trying to use him as a salt-lick lol! by the time we got him settled, stoked fire, washed up and had food...potatoes, green beans, bread and curry (we even got steve his own tin of beef casserole because hes a complete wuss when it comes to curry lol....and i'd like to add that i tried to do it all cos i was feeling guilty over the fry-ups each morning) it was darkening already and angela decided to stay at camp after olivers
outburst so me and steve went off for the entertainment....stocked up on cider then HIT THE DAVE BUDD MAN CRECHE! about ten people were cosied about around a fire, including kev from endicotts army surplus (, FGYT, and chris the party boy. there was a guy who deserves special mention (i'm sorry m8, i dont know your name....chris help me here!...we dubbed him Jesus as he fed everyone lol!...i've just discovered that jesus' name is in fact stuey...from bcuk) cooking savoury and sweet pancakes which were pased around and then he got out the marshmallows too!...plenty of booze on hand and filthyness (guess who....). FGYT impressed us all with an app that showed all the stars around the planet in real time....(the stars were out beautifully that night)....and it was quite eerie being able to 'see' the constellations over australia....the he moved his phone be able to almost see thru this beautiful planet we are on....and see what lay beyond. sorta freaked me out....twas great. the banter was second to none but in particular this stitched me right up....yes of course it was chris....''people look at me and think i know a lot about bushcraft because i'm old....but i dont know s*it....i'm from south london for f**** sake!'' hahahahha! and then kev got this bout of sneezing.....IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE TO YOU WHAT ITS LIKE! a sort of girly sneeze with a high
pitched squeak in the middle...honestly we were pee'ing it! ASSUME THE POSITION KEV!....we've not forgotten about the snow shoes and wool trousers!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol! about midnight we headed back to camp....a legendary evening!



Sunday 19th (boohoo...last day)

light brekkie today....strawberry jam sarnies and cereal....then started loading the cars....was boiling hot again so did lighter trips but more of the worst out of the way....saw the snail guy and he said they were all ok but a tad chewy lolol!...was glad i'd had sarnies and cereal! about midday angela and lil man finally went off to embrace bardsters tuition at carving and chris had to depart (doing his little dance one last time even with his full backpack on) and me and steve had an appointment at classroom 4 for a traps and triggers talk by Patrick (patrickm on bcuk) of Backwoods Survival
School ( i dont want to come across as some kind of stalker here but i remember being BLOWN AWAY by this guys work last year. i'd managed to have a chat with him on saturday/yesterday about the correct approach to bushcraft and knowlege and understanding of things and the world in which we now live and just in that 5 minutes he made an impression on for school. his talk was informative and given in a way you would expect....and humorous too...though behind everything he says and the way in which he says it you know theres a wealth of knowlege and a seriousness that deserves respect. i dont meet many people who ''make an impact'' on me but let me just say if i won the lottery tomorrow i'd temporarily move to scotland and would stay there till i'd completed every one of the courses his school offers. end of. Quote (approx):....''this trap was made and evolved by a 'primitive people'....i dont agree....i think that we are the primitive ones....but dont take my word for it''.




we then went up to the bushcraft mag stand where angela had made progress with her spoon and was being shown how to use the carving knives correctly....but was 'feeling the pain'....steve then joined in too....and bardster let them use his lovely range of carvers (mainly forged by nic westermann they both sat there determinedly carving in the hot sun whilst i chilled out with lil man and ice cream...



...and got talking to two very kool guys in the shaded area (hope to hear from you both at some point and good luck!)....i also popped into the knife barn and had a chat with rob evans and the owners of English Handmade Knives (who i buy from their pics and then caught FGYT on the way out...







then it was time to start 'going'....steve was pleased with his spoon and is to finish it off later so i saw him back to his car for farewell. i walked back to our nearly empty camp and with heavy heart took down the lil mans tent and my tarp etc, said bye to the neighbours....and looking back as i left saw the ashes of our fire that had warmed us so well.

we hooked up one last time with dave and chatted with some of the people we'd met...lil man ran around playing with his thomas tank engine football with the big kids and finally loaded the car up neatly....and with suspension creaking....we left.


i would like to thank roger and his staff/bison for it all....ALL OF IT....and for keeping the toilets clean, the rubbish controlled etc etc etc!!! and to the owners of the land and area for letting us lot into your lives each year....and thanks to the scouts....and the stall holders....the bushcrafters...and to BCUK (i mustve plugged bcuk a 1000 times over the weekend!!!)...and to anyone else i've forgotten!!! BUT A SPECIAL THANKS goes out to Sir Dave Budd and Chris Da Cat and Bardster....a thankyou not just for the 'time' you gave us so freely but for being the people you are....generous, dedicated and accomodating. i know i speak for angela (lil man) and steve when i say that it was an absolute pleasure! can take the pi** all you want but its sorta emotional as i'm writing this....we go camping a lot...but this was one trip i'll always remember dearly.

heres to more gatherings and next year we must get the man creche flag up and flying proudly lol!...i'm now gona have a bath...first since last thursday!



ps if anyone would like any of the pics in high res or in black and white or whatever pm me.

JUST BEFORE BREAKING CAMP....angela, lil' man and steve....condensation on lens....i like!



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Full Member
Sep 2, 2011
Mate. Fantastic write up. Truely was a fantastic few day's which I won't be forgetting. I'm certainly getting more & more hooked with every taste largely due to the welcoming people that we meet as well as the Bushcrafting itself. I'll grap photos off you next time I'm round bud. :You_Rock_


Apr 28, 2005
Staplehurst, Kent
excellent write up, you made I blush :D Angela and Steve did really well at their spoons and I cant wait to see Angela's finished as it was such a lovely shape! Was a pleasure meeting you all :D


Full Member
Apr 15, 2010
Hampshire and angela have just been figuring all this out lol....youre seoras....had you on my list to hook up with...weve just looked at your facebook and seen nick and molly on there...were totally puzzled....then we see youre

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! my head! lol

i daresay we'll get a chance to say hi sooner rather than later!

ta m8


Great write up and great pictures.

Thanks for all the time and effort putting it together.

I thoroughly enjoyed being there.




Jan 17, 2012
really injoyed that, well written, great pics, looks like you all had a great time, to me its whats its all about, much envy having mist it all.


Full Member
Apr 15, 2010
hi...thanks...these are just snaps though but yeah sort of....self taught i started in 1995...have won a photographer of the year award and exhibited blah blah...i used to be quite into it and have a fair bit published but have done less and less since getting into bushcrafty stuff....i'm still editing the 1000+ shots i took in one week in italy over 2 years ago lol....i used to like photojournalism but only outdoors stuff now....i do miss my darkroom though!

thanks for your comments,



your photography is outstanding,especially the last one,have you studied it?


Full Member
Feb 20, 2012
Excellent write up, and a chance to put names to faces. Love the B&W pics. Had a great time. Thanks everyone for the tips and shared knowledge. Really look forward to the next one.
Wife was a bit shocked by the photo- must have been the slight smile that threw her:lmao:
Thanks again for a warm welcome - a.


Full Member
Sep 13, 2011
High Peak
Smashing write-up Angst...
Not very good at introducing myself, sorry and I was a bit phased Sunday afternoon when you spoke to me about sat evenings cooking session. Overtired and not enjoying packing up!

Em and me were running the kiddies den building in the afternoons.. Pretty sure we saw you at some point in the woodland edge :)

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