DAS25 Bushcraft Weekend
One of my favourite surplus and outdoor suppliers, Denbigh Army Surplus recently celebrated 25 years in business, by arranging a wilderness adventure to say thanks to their customers and friends for their support over the years. So in conjunction with their local outdoor course specialists at Original Outdoors, they planned 25 hours in the wilderness with 25 people to celebrate 25 years of DAS.
After seeing this posted on twitter and facebook back in May/June and obviously intrigued, I convinced a friend and his son to get involved (as they both love the outdoors), and so we booked our places for DAS25.
Towards the of August we travelled up to Denbighshire and stayed at a local campsite to use as a basecamp for the weekend, which was close to the next day’s start point.
After negotiating around a flooded road on the morning of the event, the trusty OS map brought us down to the stunning Llyn Brennig, and we were soon welcomed by Rich from DAS.
Although I had previously chatted with Rich via email & social media etc for the past couple of years, it was great to finally meet him in person. Both him and his Dad Mick the business owner, were true to their great reputation (and youtube videos I have seen over the years), in being very down to earth and complete gents.
Prior to setting off, the guys from DAS and Original Outdoors did a quick introduction for what to expect during the weekend and for us to officially introduce ourselves to each other. The guys from Original Outdoors are well versed in educating people in the art of bushcraft and wilderness survival , but they did stress; that this was not a ‘bushcraft course’ but instead an opportunity for all these avid outdoor DAS25 people to share knowledge, techniques and friendship.
Looking around I realised this was more than an empowering speech – everyone there had their own system and mindset to be more than comfortable in the wilderness….so this was hopefully not just going to be an enjoyable weekend, but also an opportunity for us all to chat and learn from each other.
We all set off in light rain across the beautiful Llyn Brennig dam, which quickly turned into dry weather so necessitated a quick change of outer layers. From that point onwards we were lucky to have an overcast sky and occasional sunshine, and it thankfully kept dry and reasonably cool as we worked our way into the depths of Clocaenog Forest..
(Photos – Rich Brady)
Along the way we got to identify, taste and discuss various edible wild food sources, work together with tracking and navigation, whilst inevitably discussing and comparing kit and equipment.
Eventually after a good day’s walk through quite varied terrain, we reached Original Outdoor’s woodland paradise, which was absolutely beautiful; banked on one side with the dense Clacaenog Forest, and the other on the side there is a magical view across Denbighshire.
We were welcomed with an HQ tent on the very edge of the woodland with Cake and Tea/Coffee and more cake, – it really hit the spot after a hard day’s hike.
Then we moved off in makeshift groups into the woods to locate the perfect area to build our shelters whilst dinner was being prepared. So we all set off to find our place in the wilderness, where we could put up our tarps, have a fire and sleep comfortably (& safely) for the night.
Once we had finished setting up for the night, we headed up to the camp kitchen area where there was THE most amazing smelling stews simmering away in the fire place. Original Outdoors had obviously catered for all different preferences in regards to ingredients, so I took full advantage and had a bit of each!
They certainly really care about the food they cook, as all of it was delicious and locally sourced. (Particularly the Rabbit stew, which I was informed Rich from OO had stayed up much of the previous night to obtain). It certainly refuelled us and also provided a great social time for us all to sit down and relax.
(Photos – Rich Brady)
There followed a good group chat regarding fire lighting techniques and ideas, whilst also discussing the ‘leave no trace mentality’. This was definitely a great subject as it emphasised the potential underground burning issues involved with open fires within this type of woodland. (especially for my two companions who were unused to this environment- but highly keen to start a fire!)
We then made our way in groups to our shelter areas where we gathered some wood, cleared our fire pit and got a fire going (with a bit of perseverance needed with the striker). We then even laid some logs around for seating, watched our prehistoric TV, had a couple of beers and then went to a well deserved sleep..
Just after 5:30 am – as I was lay fast asleep in my cosy sleeping bag, surrounded by my gore-tex bivvi and with my tarp overhead.. I heard this loud clanging sound coming from the top of the hill…. apparently it was breakfast time…
After a bit of ‘out of character expletives’, we quickly dismantled our shelters, packed away our kit and importantly used the ‘leave no trace’ mentality especially in regards to our fire pit.
Then following a good breakfast, we all began the trek back through the forest, this time beginning with more of a gradient than the previous day’s walk, which certainly was a good way to start the day and get the blood pumping. Again we stopped at various points along the way to discuss navigation, wild foods, terrain and other subjects related to the outdoors.
We even managed a ‘group photo’ on a 500 year old bridge thanks to the two Rich’s valiant ‘running ahead method’ and their trusty tripod..
-Great shot though
At the end of the weekend we all made it back to Llyn Brennig, exhausted but happy after our great 25 hours in the wilderness..
We then headed in convoy to a BBQ put on by Denbigh Army Surplus, and again were very well looked after with great food and great company from all the DAS friends that were there.
So I just wanted to take this opportunity not only to share this experience, but also to thank all the lovely DAS family/friends and the great guys at Original Outdoors for such a fantastic and enjoyable weekend.
Denbigh Army Surplus – great suppliers of hard wearing outdoor kit and lovely people
Original Outdoors – Wilderness and outdoor courses, training and guidance – they know their stuff