"To Leave no trace but knowledge" - Steven J Taylor
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Bushcraft, survival, wild camping, bushcraft meet in County Durham Northeast England

Bushcraft, Survival and Outdoor Education in Durham Tyne and Wear

Northern Wilderness Bushcraft and Bushlore Club in Durham attracts people from Sunderland, Newcastle and all around the UK. Our woodland based club offers a Bushcraft Moot to meet with bushcrafters and wild campers from all over England, we love to practice all outdoor crafts from bushcraft which a broad spectrum like advanced woodland skills down to basic shelter building, wild camping, fire by friction, edged tool courses, knife making and leather craft, wood carving and whittling to survival and outdoor adventures such as river fishing, map reading, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and caving, wild camping skills plus much more. Please keep reading about our history and bushcraft instructors below.

About Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Clube

Northern Wilderness Bushcraft and Forest Club is an eco bushcraft and survival education club who has taken on a site that needs all of our help to heal the land and Northern Wilderness Bushcraft know they can do it with your help.  

The Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Club is set in the heart of the beautiful County Durham countryside, The club is based at the Finchale Abbey holiday touring park and eco village within 2 miles of river and woodland. The park lies within a meander of the River Wear and overlooks the ruins of a Benedictine Priory. Only 4 miles out of Durham and not too far from Newcastle and Sunderland. Finchale Abbey Bushcraft School in Durham is a small but close club ran by Steven J Taylor. The school was set up in 2007 but the trainers have over 20 years of survival and bushcraft experience. Our courses take place in the heart of a mixed woodland that we keep a close secrete and our base camp backs on to the River Wear. The site is a private 2 mile of woodland open wild flower land with hedgerows and meadows. The Northern Wilderness Bushcraft School in Durham Tyne and Wear has everything you need for a bushcrafter with wild animals such as badger, dear, foxes and owls a variety of fish from prime Salmon, Sea trout, Brown trout. The site overlooks sand stone cliffs carved out by the River Wear and lush mixed woodland it’s our little piece of Northern Wilderness to be. 

Although we love the site it does have issues and that’s why we are here, to help heal this ancient land. Northern Wilderness Bushcraft courses are not just a life changing experience your also healing this land’s many scars. We can’t do it alone and need your help. With the money we make from our courses we are reinvesting in the land and saving trees, replanting new native trees, plants and more. We are helping save natural habitats for wild animals and protecting them from the poachers.

Our Belife! 

Northern Wilderness Bushcraft are set on helping the Finchale Abbey local woodland and the life within the woodland thrive. Although we do take from the woodland we give back only taking what we need and using up dead standing wood. We don’t harm and we are clean and safe and abide by the woodland way. We don’t hunt as we do not need to hunt in our woodland, we have no need to kill to be able to show people how to trap or cook. We are not Rambo and we don’t need to go Bear Grills and eat insects and drink urine out of a snake skin. If that’s what you’re looking for then maybe you should look for another school that teaches extreme survival. We are also standing by the belief that we should be bringing back the ancient English Oak Trees and help heal or woodlands. As bushcraft teachers we love to teach about how important our trees, plants and wildlife are to us and to our survival. In world with the highest of education our fellow humans can be so ignorant to the real source of life our ancient forests and woodland. Our bushcraft school is a business that we created out of our love for the bushcraft way of life but we see our business as a way of helping our woodlands, giving to trusts and keeping or forests clean and safe for all. We call ourselves a real bushcraft school, no gimmicks no Rambo’s or Bear Grills here just real bushcrafters that love the woodland and all its magic.

Northern Wilderness Bushcraft School History

Northern Wilderness Bushcraft School was first setup and went by the name Kerno Sea and Bush Craft School with Steve Taylor taking small groups out in to the Cornish and Devon woodland to work on basic bushcraft skills along with costal survival. Steve worked as a surf instructor in Newquay Cornwall and as part of this it taught him about saving lives, reading nature and the elements, eating right for survival in different weather conditions. This would come in handy as he would eventually end up using his survival skills as he ended up homeless and surviving on his skill sets to fish and hunt along with urban survival. But it was in 2003 when his second school Ravens Wood Bushcraft School was created named after the Ravensworth Woodland in Gateshead after Steve met Mark Allen through a love for motorcycles, Mark an ex military and fellow survival teacher first met and Ravens Wood Bushcraft School based in Gateshead North East England was first created and launched with there first bushmoot on Sunday 23rd March 2003, the idea was to create a bush-survival club for local bushcrafters to come and share skills, swop kit and catch up, this idea came from Steve been part of the Pagan Lion Moot in Southend on Sea. " A Moot is defined variously as a meeting, an ancient English court, a debate or discussion. The term comes from Anglo Saxon, Icelandic and Old English roots. The word suits the purpose of the gathering, so Pagan groups tend to use it!" Steve is a proud pagan and this gives him a deeper conection to the land but Steve wanted a moot that removed the idea of rituals and wanted a woodland meeting that was based around understanding nature, what wild herbs you could use and learning about the heritage of the trees and its many kinds of woods and uses. This lead to the creation of the UK's first bushmoot which later became a full time survival school and predates most of the bushcraft schools in the UK.

But disaster would strike and see the new school loss there woodland to high paying hunters and the fact the ground was been swallowed by old mine shafts. So in 2012 the Ravens Wood Bushcraft School closed to the public but in 2014 it had re-opened its doors as Northern Wilderness Bushcraft, the name came when Steve was looking for a new name for the new site but the duo had more than one site to work. They have their new home at Finchale Abbey in County Durham and 2 other large woodland sites that they can use at any time. While brainstorming and thinking of what inspired Steve to create his school he named it after one of the best Bushcraft TV documentary that a very famous TV bushcraft expert had created, he was inspired by this famous bushcrafter and he decided to name his school Northern Wilderness Bushcraft.

In 2018 Steve decided to revert the school back to a club only site and w e no longer teach bushcraft in any form. However the club will share skills and experiences. 

Today Steve lives in Cornwall. The club still host a monthly meet for people that want to enjoy wild camping. 

Our Instructors at Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Club in County Durham.

Steve Taylor, Founder, manager, Instructor & guide

Gillan Thomson, Head of Operations & instructor

Ian J Coulthard, founder of Hikers Haul of Survival, instructor and wild edibles guide

Steven Dixon, founder of Native Blades, knife making instructor and bushcraft instructor

David Marshall, founder of Catpaw leathercraft, leather course instructor and assistant


Steve Taylor - Founder of Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Club

About Steve Taylor

Steve trained as a surf instructor and beach life guard and has saved many lives along with disarming a knife attacker in a violent attack where no one but the attacker was harmed. 

While Steve is a bushcrafter he is also home in the ocean, Steve has spent most of his life in the sea. Steve is no stranger to spear fishing, ocean diving and living off of marine life.

Steve grew up around the Northern woodland and his family used and taught him allot such as his Gran taking him foraging for wild foods to his Grandpa showing him how to brew beers wines and ciders from local wild berries, apples along with woodwork and showing him how to hunt and butcher. 

He grew up in a nature based family spending most of his child hood with plants herbs and shrubs.

By the age of 16 Steve had left home in the North and headed south to Cheddar on Somerset to where he started working on a campsite, his first job. His first home was a tent below wild pine and oak for 9 months of the year. His job was to look after the site and its live stock, working with the land within the Mendip Hills. Here he learned archery, bushcraft and survival, canoeing, diving, horse riding and fishing in turn for his labour. Since Steve did not have a wage he lived off the land, hunting and foraging the lush headgrows and cooking all of his meals by fire. He did have free access to the camp kitchen and shop but Steve found that the woodland around Cheddar lured him in and found the hunt for wild food and outdoor cooking was his way of life.

Steve's knowledge of survival psychology would be put to the test when he was just 21 years of age in Somerset. In the photo you can see the light aircraft; the clue to disaster is the battery charger. It was a normal day until they lost all power at 1000ft, Steve had full control of the light craft when the alternator failed and the engine stalled. With no power for radio communication or engine he had no choice but to take it down, with a plan to take the plain in to the sea, hoping to save himself and two others in the plain, as he headed out to Weston in to the sea Steve managed to get the alternator to crank and the engine to fire with only 200ft left before impact. Steve landed the small craft safely as all air traffic was stopped as they expected a horrific crash. Throughout the ordeal Steve’s natural survival instinct took over keeping not only him calm but the other passengers. With Steve's knowledge of survival he put them in a 50/50 chance of survival. Steve’s natural instinct and his survival knowledge of psychology the passengers on a calm level and helped them through a heart stopping ordeal.

Steve also trained in climbing and free climbing in Cheddar Gorge.

He has spent many hours bouldering and free climbing in his younger days and still climbs to this day.

Steve has actually lived off the grid for 4 years surviving on the land and using his bushcraft skills to do so. His hands on life and death experience make him an invaluable survival, bushcrafter and life teacher.

Steve uses bushcraft in his day to day life foraging for wild food, making ale, beer and cider. He grows his own apples and food. His household is 70% self sustainable taking him almost of the grid and most of the items in his home are hand made by Steve.

Steve is very much a free spirit and one with nature, he carries a true respect for the earth and its many elements.

Gillan Thompson - Head of Operations & Bushcraft Instructor

Gillan Robert Thomson started his woodland adventures in at his home town of Forres Morayshire, scotland when he joined the cubs at the age of 10 years old, doing woodland camps and cubs activites. Gillan has been fishing since he was a wee kid, both fly and spinning on rivers, catching Lossie (trout) and Spey (salmon), the Spey is where the best whiskies get their water from!! 

Gillan also leads our fishing courses in Durham.

At the young age of 13 Gillan went to Gordonstoun School in Moray, where outward bound activities was on the curriculum so this set Gillan up for life of outdoor adventure. Gillan has led and taken part in mmany 2-3 day expeditions in the Cairngorms twice a year since he was a teenager, which he would establish a base camp and hike up 2 - 3 Munros in one day which is hard going! Gillan leads our winter survival courses in Scotland still to this day!

Gillan has also studied seamanship, learning how to use a 7 man cutter sailer along with marine knots, man overboard drills and understanding how the ocean works and so much more. 

As part of his seamanship Gillan has cruised on a 55' 1960s fully manual yacht, manual sail/sheets winders, canvas sails for bunks which were hard going. 

Gillan is a seasond rock climber and abseiler at a wall and on nearby cliffs. Gilan also  joined the Ski Service, where he trained as ski patrol doing mountain  firstaid and unable body safe descents, making snow holes to stay the night in safely along with marshaling the Scottish cross country skiing in winter and woodland cross country and orienteering in the summer. 

He holds a bronze and silver duke of Edinburgh award (bronze is mandatory as it was founded at the school Gillan attended as a young man). He also did his bronze medallion and beach rescue. He has been snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking all over the world. 

Gillan has also led many moto crosser weekends where they ride motor cross bikes through wild woodlands and moor find extreme camping spots deep in the woods.

Gillan has been a solo bushcrafter most of his life, renewing his old knowledge and gaining new all the time! Mostly self taught and learning from others on the way. Gillan also has some mad paracorde skill, paracord tying, making sure he's got enough cordage for most situations... 

Steve Dixon - Bushcraft Instructor & Knife Maker

About Steven Dixon

Steven has spent A great deal of time in the great outdoors. From a very early age he was taken out on woodland trips along with his cousins by his Grandfather Herbie. From those early jaunts out with his Grandad he continued with his keen fascination with the woodlands and its wildlife in general.

Being born and growing up on the banks of the river Derwent in Consett, Steven became a very keen bird watcher through the 1970s . And learned along the way a good deal about the other wildlife which inhabited the woodlands and surrounding areas of Derwentside. In the late 70s he joined the Army Cadet Force where he developed an interest in survival techniques.

Unlike other survivalists and bushcrafters Steven found his true calling, not form books of wartime hardships or tales of pioneering forefathers but from the early 80s TV program ‘Brendan Chase.’ Which told the story of three young boys who had ran away from home, and lived in a big old hollowed out oak tree in the woods. After this and then finding the book The SAS survival handbook’ Steven teamed up with an ex-military survival instructor and formed The Consett Survival Group.

In more recent time, Steven Dixon created Native Blades where Steven hand makes bushcraft knives to order and as part of our Bushcraft knife Course. Steve hand makes bushcraft knives on site at Northern Wilderness and at his home on Consett. Steve Taylor and Steven Dixon are together looking at how they can create the first Northern Wilderness Bushcraft Knife using David Marshalls CatPaw leather crafts to hand make the sheaths in North East England, to create a all round handmade bush knife.

Steven also hand picks wild wood to make fine walking sticks which are available for sale in our website shop. These too are handmade and the wood locally sourced from our woodland management program.

Steven is also one of our photographers with over 30 years of photography skills, shooting still life to wild animals. Steven hosts our photo courses along with our Native Birds Course.

In most recent times Steven has worked with many other bushcraft schools around the UK, bringing his skill set to the front of his teaching.

Specailist Instructor, David Marhshall, Leathercraft Instructor

David Marshall of CatPaw Leather Craft is one of our leather crafters, he works with us to help create leather knife sheaths, archery tools and bags along with much more.

Dave has over 20 years experince in leather craft. Dave also teachers our river fishing survival course and helps on our bushcraft and survival courses. 

Dave has been part of the bushcraft world since 1998 and even helped create Northern Wilderness Bushcraft School. 

David is also a tour guide and actor so he is at home when it comes to teaching and talking to large groups. 

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