Back in January the Dude and I joined the Wee Adventures team for an adult adventure taster session near Aberfeldy. A morning of scrambling up through Weem woods, making new friends and admiring the view over a coffee, all very civilised and a brilliant way to spend a few hours; we didn’t even notice the cold winter air. Since then I have been thinking of new things I could learn that would allow me to spend more time outside and a bushcraft taster session in Perthshire seemed like a great idea. What I didn’t want was a workshop that was full of men in camouflage taking it all very seriously! But what I found was just the right mixture of knowledge, enthusiasm, fun and practice time.
Bushcraft taster session
We have been camping many times but this normally involves the car being packed to the rafters with creature comforts. I wanted to learn some basic bushcraft skills that would help me in the future. Things like how to use the trees without causing damage to them and tying knots that won’t come undone in the middle of the night.
For me the best way to learn is by actually doing something, not reading a “how to” guide, so I knew when the Wee Adventures team invited me back to Weem woods for their bushcraft taster session it would be the perfect classroom.
With the kit unloaded from the pickup and distributed between the ten adults, we were off to make a den in the woods!
There were a couple of familiar faces that I recognised from our previous scrambling session but very quickly the group got chatting and it was obvious that there were some old hands along with newbies, like myself.
With Biscuit as our mentor, we agreed as a group on an open(ish) area of woodland with a good combination of big mature beech trees alongside much younger, flexible ones; perfect for practicing knots and hanging tarps.
After a quick basic run through of some knots we would find useful we each chose a piece of cord and a tree to practice our Truckers Hitch knot. Tying and untying to become more proficient at our new skill.
With this in mind it was now time to find a place to put up a large ground sheet, wrap the cords around the tree’s branches and tie off the knots to secure it in place. With a bit of teamwork, in just a few minutes we had a shelter and a fire on the go. Time for one of Biscuit’s acclaimed coffee breaks and a chance to find out a bit more about one another.
The group consisted of locals and visitors to the area and the knowledge base ranged from very little (me) to forty something years of Scouts, DofE and being outdoors.
Fuelled by biscuits and Glen Lyon coffee we set off in pairs to set up a shelter using our newly acquired knot. There was lots of chat and giggles at this stage, comfortable in our surroundings or maybe it was the caffeine!
At the end, we collectively looked at each pairs efforts, taking inspiration and ideas away for our own attempts in the future.
As a child I yearned to be outside rather than being in a classroom all day and all these years later, I still struggle with being indoors for any long period of time (even just one day). For me, doing these taster sessions with the Wee Adventures team and my fellow classmates in the crisp fresh air have been what I dreamed education to be. Hands on, fun, interactive, useful and to be taught by someone whose enthusiasm knows no bounds is so refreshing.
I returned home with a new thirst to learn more knot tying techniques, how to start fire without using matches and foraging. That is the positive impact of trying something new, having the right teacher and not being made to feel stupid when you ask the same question more than once.
Leave no trace
Within ten minutes of picking our spot amongst the trees we had kit laid out on the floor and a tarp ready to be tied from one tree to another, setting up a wee camp for the morning. In the time spent at our temporary home for the morning we had a fire going in a small fire pit, in pairs we had created a shelter, drank coffee and scoffed tasty biscuits.
As any camp should be when you’ve packed up, there was no trace of us invading this part of Weem woods. No damage to any of the trees, no kit left or rubbish discarded. In-fact, we even took away with us pieces of litter that were there before we arrived.
On their website, Wee Adventures describe what they do simply as “Scottish Adventures, Micro Adventures and Adventures for kids.” So if that kid appears in the form of a forty something woman then so be it. They cover birthday parties (yes I’m sure if you asked nicely they could do your birthday too), private family bookings, school holiday activity days, adventure sports coaching and even corporate away days (anything to get out of the office).
I love that they inspire young and old to have a go, try something new, get your hands dirty, have fun, be unplugged and in the moment. That might sound like a lot of buzz words and clichés but an ethos that the Aberfeldy based family business believed in long before it was trendy.
This level of passion and enthusiasm comes from people who love what they do. You only have to look at the photos on their social media to see the pure delight on the faces of children that join in on the Perthshire micro adventures. And quite honestly, how many other places do you know that do tree climbing and make rope swings for adults! Genius.
I would like to thank Biscuit and Sarah for inviting us into the woods and making me feel instantly at ease for both Adult Taster Sessions, proving that you can still enjoy the outdoors in winter and that it’s never to late to learn something new. These sessions were provided on a complimentary basis in return for this post.
(The photos in this post were taken on my phone so I could spend more time enjoying myself).