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The Bushmoot.

Having just come back from a well spent fortnight with friends at another BcUK Bushmoot I thought I would post a few words about this great event here.

The Bushmoot is organised every year by Tony Bristow and the the Bushcraft UK crew around July-August at Merthyr Mawr, a rich and diverse site on the coast of South Wales.

Numbers are kept down to about 300 people to keep the site from becoming overcrowded and there are a series of workshops, both formal and informal held across the core day of the Moot.

Pizza Oven Making -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Leather Workshop -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Skinning and Meat Preparation -  2017 - Gary Waidson - RavenloreHide Tanning -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Cooking Demonstration -  2017 - Gary Waidson - RavenloreBasket Weaving -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

I always end up taking a stupid amount of kit to these kind of events because I’m often asked about stuff that I’ve posted up here and if I leave anything at home you can almost guarantee that that will be the thing someone wants to see.

Fortunately I can drop my gear straight out of my van and onto my usual pitch  so I end up with a very comfortable base camp for the couple of weeks that I am there.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

My bivouac often raises a few questions in itself so this year I took a few pictures so that I could talk a bit about an extended camp.

I use a 4.5m square polycotton tarp to give myself a bit of admin space whatever the weather.

It’s rigged with a combination of poles, cord and elastic to give a stable but flexible setup.

The guys are all high visibility and reflective and I surround the camp with a luminous cord.

With so many people wandering around at night, especially after a few beers, it’s wise to make sure no one is going to plant their face in the floor by tripping over your guy lines.

We don’t get bears in the UK of course but on  camp sites that are used regularly the mice and voles soon learn how to chew through packets to get at your food so “Bear Bagging” is a sensible precaution.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

Here you can see my admin space with cooking area to the left, craft and food preparation area in the middle and my sleeping and relaxing area to the right behind the tree.

The pole raises this edge of the tarp to give a comfortable entry point that is facing away from the prevailing weather.

Hanging on the tree are a couple of large augers that we used to make benches in the “Naughty Corner” (One of the popular centres of Moot life at night.)

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

Moving in a bit closer is the wet area with a 5 gallon water container set up with a siphon pump to save lifting it around.

Not shown here but just visible at the bottom left above is a large tub for washing pots or clothing and also for collecting rainwater when needed.

The small wooden table acts as a drying rack for pots and pans or in this case a pair of Viking turn shoes that are drying out after completion.

At the right is a small rubbish bag for non food items. 

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

Any food wrappers or anything else that might attract flies or wasps go into a bag suspended in a tree some distance from the bivi that is kept closed for most of the time.

On the other side of the table, just out side the tarp area is my cooking rig in one of it’s configurations.

Under the table are the wooden boxes that carry my pots, pans and kitchen equipment for such camps.

Note the comprehensive first aid kit. Always important then sharp tools and fires are in use.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

Under the wet towel is a military grade cool-box or “Norgie” container.

Packed with frozen food and covered like this I can keep food cool and fresh for about 5 days.

With careful planning this means only one resupply trip off site is needed.

To the left just behind the fresh water bottles and churn is my heavy wood processing kit.

The wedges, hammers and tools there were also used to make the benches mentioned above.

On the left is a shovel for charcoal or hot embers.

The table itself is used for food prep and craft work.

I had it made for living history use so it is very solid and stable but takes apart for transport.

On top are various boxes and bags containing small items frequently needed or easily lost.

You can also see a lantern, my wooden bowl, trencher and kuksa.

Notice under the table a hammer and some spare pegs.

Near the coast the weather can change quickly and the middle of the night, when the rain is lashing down and the wind tugging at your tarp is not the time to start making storm pegs or wondering where the mallet is.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

A comfortable chair is a luxury well worth taking to any meet up.

A blanket or poncho thrown over the back  keeps the cold off at night when you are facing the fire and it also make a useful clothes horse as well in the day.

You will notice the tripods and  rail supporting my tool bags and bergans.

This is Wales, well known for not being the driest part of the UK and although the site is mostly sand it can still flood slightly in heavy rain.

Keeping your kit off the ground  is a very good idea.

My sleeping arrangements are simple enough.

A hammock with insect netting and an under and over quilt.

I use an old string hammock hanging just above my hammock as a storage area for clothing or things I might need while at night.

Above that I have a candle lantern and an electronic glowstick  for shorter term lighting.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

At big meet ups I tend to hang a paraffin storm lantern with a red military watch glass in it high up outside my bivi.

This becomes a useful navigation point, not just for me returning to my camp but for others as well.

Base Camp -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

Finally, we have my fuel store.

Although there is usually a lot of available fuel at Merthyr Mawr, many of the sites I visit have been picked  pretty clean by other campers.

I tend to bring my own fuel with me, taken from sustainable sources and stored in waterproof barrels and under cover.

It may seem lazy but I do prefer to control my impact upon the sites I visit.

It’s never possible to be entirely “zero impact” where fuel is concerned of course because even manufactured fuel creates an impact somewhere.  But dead wood is an important part of most ecosystems that is all too easy to deplete.

I use wood and charcoal from properly managed UK woodlands whenever I can.

While at the Moot I also ran a small photo workshop followed by a presentation of my Landscape Photography. The next day I took a small group on an outing to the waterfalls near Ystradfellte a few miles from the site.

Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore

It’s been about twenty years since I was here and I must admit the valley seems deeper and the slopes much steeper since my last visit. I guess time catches up with us all in the end.

Sgwd Yr Elra -  2017 - Gary Waidson - Ravenlore
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