wild food foraging, birdwatching, wildlife, nature and ancient craft
skills in North East England, the North Pennines, Northumberland, Durham and Kielder
Activity leaderYour activity leader is Bruce
Ferguson. He has been sharing his passionate interest in the natural
world with young and old alike for over thirty years.
Working as a professional naturalist since 1985 he is a knowledgeable
and skilled environmental interpreter as well as a qualified biologist,
botanist and keen birdwatcher. He has been involved in woodcrafts and
bushcrafts since 1987.
"Originally with two years at
agricultural college and after employment as a shepherd and stockman I
moved to work in countryside management in 1985.
years my work involved the conservation and management of a number of
local authority owned sites including a large ancient woodland nature
reserve, coniferous plantations, grassland, scrub and wetland. During
this time I became proficient in habitat survey work; Phase 1, Phase 2
and NVC. I also produced conservation management plans for all the
areas under my control. Survey work included identification of
invertebrates, birds, amphibians and small mammal populations as well
as botanical work. In addition to the conservation side of the work I
spent a great deal of time leading educational visits for schools,
colleges and university groups and guided walks for the general public.
I also developed my skills in environmental interpretation which later
was to become a major part of the nature based business I set up in 1999. During my time as a ranger I took an Open University
degree in Natural Sciences with Biology and achieved a 2.1 with honours.
interest in woodlands, working with greenwood and bushcrafts developed
during the fifteen years that I managed ancient woodland for the local
authority. In 1987 we were the first countryside service in the north
east to run woodcraft weekends for the general public. These
comprised building a traditional earth covered charcoal clamp (a few
years later we started using a metal kiln), a charcoal burner's hut and
running hands-on demonstrations of old crafts including greenwood
turning on a pole lathe, willow basket weaving, besom making and hazel
hurdles; visitors could join in for as long as they liked as we were
there all day and all night for three days. My interest in bushcraft
developed as a natural extension of my interest in greenwood skills.
Making our own shelter as the ancient charcoal burners did, using the
materials found around them in the wood, brought an interest in how the
woodlands and natural world provided many of the things of everyday
life to our ancestors such as food, shelter, medicine and building
I later produced charcoal commercially and for a
number of years sold through the national Bioregional Charcoal Group
mainly to B&Q and through our own collective group of burners in
the north east under the banner Great North Charcoal, to local garden
centres and garages.
Greenwood working, in particular greenwood
turning on a pole lathe has remained a hobby since and I was a founder
member of the Tees Valley Greenwood Group.
1995 I was invited by Houghall College in Durham to deliver lectures to
their National Diploma in Land Use and Recreation students in a range
of subjects from woodland management, conservation and survey to
visitor management and countryside recreation. I was a visiting
lecturer continuously until 1999 for Houghall College and until 2008 for the University of Sunderland to
BSc and MSc students. In 1999 I left paid employment to concentrate
fully on freelance work.
In addition to my degree, other
relevant qualifications include the Technicians Certificate in
Arboriculture, a wide range of chainsaw use and felling certificates, a current
first aid certificate and a bushcraft competency certificate for
teaching groups, examined and awarded by the Institute for Outdoor
Learning. I also have a recent, current DBS check."
ideal present; buy a half or full day activity gift voucher
for use on any of our activities emailed direct to you.