Saturday, 30 July 2016

How to Read a Map

To most people over a certain age and anyone like me who spent their childhoods following their parents up mist-cowled mountains, it will be a shocking statistic to read: apparently one in three of us now can’t read a map. According to recent research from Garmin (those GPS technology specialists who you might think would delight at such findings), we have all become worryingly dependent on the kind of ‘guided’ travel technology found in Sat Nav or apps. So much so that 39 percent of Britons are helpless when it comes to finding their way using a traditional map.

Call me a Luddite if you will, but I believe this is terrible state of affairs. In my mind, being able to orient yourself and navigate without resorting to a handset or GPS remains an important skill even in the modern age. I’m not anti-technology in the slightest; anything that can make life easier, more convenient or safer has to be a progressive step. But not being able to read a map? That is an enormous gap in any Human’s knowledge and one that, if it gets out, puts you at a serious disadvantage during directional arguments with your other half. No one wants to be the guy who swears blind it is one way, only to find out he’s totally in the wrong.

Crucially, there’s the usefulness factor here. Lets take road navigation: how many times have you read instructions to a place that strictly tells you not to follow your Sat Nav? Or heard of cars submerged in rivers because the driver was told by a digital voice on their dashboard that what lay ahead was a country lane? Or seen a photo of a lorry wedged under a low bridge? You get the point. As brilliant as it may be, technology fails from time to time. Batteries die. Satellites refuse to connect. Like it or not, maps still provide the most reliable form of getting to A to B – provided, that is, you know how to read them.

But however important they are for road travelling or finding your way around the urban environment, they are way more vital in the great outdoors. Malfunctioning gadgets or dodgy navigation skills can lead to people becoming lost and disorientated, wandering onto steep, dangerous ground and spending longer than planned in the elements, leading to exhaustion and exposure to unforgiving climates. As I’ve found out numerous times in the Lake District, Wales and Scotland, weather can turn quickly; suddenly that nice footpath you were following has vanished under fog, cloud or (as I found once, on Helvellyn) unexpected snow. You could find yourself at the top of a fell or featureless moor with no paths at all. Or there may appear more paths on the hillside than you were expecting. In such circumstances being able to read, understand and interpret factors like contour lines, types of wood, walls, rivers, and fences becomes critical.

But even putting the practicalities to one side for a moment, maps are a pleasure to open and explore. They have been a part of our lives and our understanding of place since the first explorers set forth to chart the lands beyond their borders. They speak of adventure and make birds of us all, capable of taking our grounded, land-locked minds and giving them perspective, allowing us to fly above unknown regions and identify their layout, landscape and resources. They let us plan future trips and jog our memories of past ones. They give the human animal a sense of scale, orientation, angles, and measurement; just reading them boosts our spatial awareness and analytical skills.

Topographic Maps 

Carrying and knowing how to read a map in the outdoors is an essential wilderness survival skill.

One of the most practical types of maps to have, especially when travelling in the outdoors, is a topographic map. Topographic maps present a straightforward, easy to understand visual aid for navigating a landscape. They are organised in a manner to help you navigate and plan routes through even the most challenging landscapes.

In order to help you understand how to read a map, let's start by breaking it down and looking at the basics.

The Four Cardinal Points

Topographical maps are always arranged so that the four cardinal points are obvious and easily understood. As with most maps, North is up on map. South is the bottom, while East is the right side and West is the left side of the printed map. There is also often a compass, arrow or magnetic declination character printed on the topographic map that points to North. Maps are oriented to True North, not magnetic North. Most topographic maps have the difference between magnetic and True North printed on the map for that region.

Contour Lines

This is a feature unique to topographical maps. Contour lines are curved lines that are used to connect points with the same elevation. In other words, contour lines give you a 3 dimensional lay of the land. They are used to define the shape and steepness in elevation of various landforms. To make contour lines most useful to you, you need to determine the contour interval which is generally given at the bottom of the map. The contour interval is the rate at which your elevation changes as you go from one contour line up or down to another, and this is general given in feet or meters.

How to Read a Map's Scale

This is a vital part of the map that tells you have how the map relates to the landscape. Generally, map scale is given in 2 different ways on a topographical map: ratio scale and graphic scale.

The ratio scale is generally given in a number that looks something like this: 1:30,000. This means that for every 1 inch on the map, it is 30,000 inches on the ground.

The graphic scale is given as a line that demonstrates how long a given distance is using a straight line, which can be given as a mile or hundreds of miles. Often, there are multiple lines for this, one given in miles and another in kilometres. This acts as a visual ruler than can be quickly used to estimate distances using straight lines.

Map Legend

The legend is the portion of the map, also known as a "map key," that tells you how to read a map's details. Roads, buildings, waterways, glaciers, open versus forested terrain, and other features will be described in detail in the map legend. Generally, waterways are marked out in blue on topographic maps, while roads are marked out in black or brown.

Further Resources

Using a compass can make a map even more helpful, for information on how to read a compass check out: How to Read a Compass.

Friday, 29 July 2016

How to Read a Compass

Understanding how to read a compass properly is a vital outdoor skill. Using a compass is a fundamental way to help you determine your location and direction of travel. It is also important to understand what a compass does and what it does not do.

How to Read a Compass:

Compass Parts

Though there are many types of compasses on the market, here are some primary components that are part of most compasses:

True North versus Magnetic North

There are two types of North, and understanding this is vital in knowing how to read a compass. True North is located at the North Pole, which is the point in the Arctic Sea around which the earth rotates. The Magnetic North, however, is located in a different location, in northern Canada. This location actually changes with time. The earth is covered in magnetic lines that come out of the Magnetic South, cover the planet, and converge again at the Magnetic North. To understand Magnetic North, you need to understand that those lines are generally not straight, and in some parts of the country they point pretty far from True North. That variance between the True North and Magnetic North is called magnetic variation or declination.

When you are learning how to read a compass, you must take this variance into account. This variance is given as a number in units of degrees, based on the 360 degrees in a circle. Depending on where in the northern hemisphere you live, this number might be east or west of True North. Many modern compasses have numbers printed on them for ease of reading. Modern topographic maps include the declination number on them. You can also visit NOAA's Geophysical Data Center online to learn what the declination is for your area.

Find out what declination is for your area and keep this number with you. You might even want to write a note on a piece of paper and leave it inside your compass container or write it directly on your compass. Remember to check it at least every few years, as it can change with time.

Using a Compass in the Field

Look carefully at your compass, and make sure there are no metal or magnetic objects near it when you do (they can skew your compass readings). Place the compass so that North is at the top of the circle. Now use the numbers of declination and rotate the compass slowly until you are the correct number of degrees away from the magnetic North to point to True North. Remember that North on a map is calibrated to True North. So when using your compass along with a map, remember to adjust for the declination or difference.

Taking a Compass Bearing

One way to help you learn how to read a compass is to play a simple game of taking compass bearings of objects in your surrounding area. A compass bearing is the number of degrees between an object and the north on your compass. Try this by standing with your compass in your palm at about waist height. Now, point the fixed direction-of-travel arrow at an object or landmark. Then, twist the compass housing so the compass needle lies right over the orienting arrow. Make sure that the compass needle is pointing North at the top of the housing. Finally, read the number on the rim of the compass. That is the bearing of the landmark – the number of degrees it is from Magnetic North.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to Shit in the Woods

We all do it at home and when we're out on the trail we find ourselves needing to do it, when we would rather not. But going to the toilet in the woods is something, at some point you are going to need to do.

It's not really a subject you hear talked about on bushcraft forums, but I feel it's something we should be aware of. And hopefully if you haven't yet needed to learn about what is involved or required, this post will be of use to you.

(I now have an image of somebody, in a woodland, cross legged, hastily reading this post on their iphone...)

Anyway, lets get down to business (Sorry !... I'm sure there will be more comments like that to follow)

Toilet Kit - What To Carry

It's not a piece of kit you are going to need very often, but when you do, you'll be glad you prepared yourself in advance.

Put yourself together a simple toilet kit, with all the items required for general toilet maintenance :

  • Pack of tissues (or toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag)
  • Lighter
  • Small folding trowel or spade
  • Hand cleanser
  • Small torch (I know, sound silly... But could be very beneficial)
  • Bag to carry everything in (The kit contents, not the... well, you know !)
  • Pack of Tissues

I don't think I need to explain what these are for, just make sure what ever you decided to use in your kit it kept in a waterproof bag for obvious reasons.


This is used to burn the tissues once the required maintenance has been carried out. Just keeps everything more hygienic.

Small Folding Trowel

This is used to dig yourself a suitable hole in the chosen ground to receive the necessary.

Hand Cleanser

Used to clean your hands afterwards, again to ensure everything is kept hygenic. You can buy small bottles of this stuff with handy dispenser pumps. Wipes can also be used.

Small Torch

Chances are you will need to go the toilet in the night and you will need to find your way to the chosen site without having to hack your way threw brambles or get lost. Most people have their own torch, but if you have one in your kit, you know its always there.

Bag To Carry Everything In

Just keeps everything together in a handy kit, which can be stored in a rucksack pocket

If you are spending a night or two in the woods, I would advise choosing a suitable spot for your toilet setup prior to anything else you do. This way, you know everything is there ready should you be caught short. You don't want to be digging a hole with your pants round your ankles.

Chose a secluded spot, well away from camp and away from any running water, ponds or lakes.

Ensure the ground you chose is easy to dig into. You don't want to be spending hours excavating rocks and stone.

If there are several people in your camp or you like a bit of comfort, you may want to build yourself a small framework out of branches and paracord. Giving you something to lean or sit on (This post isn't very dignified I know, but needs must). You could also use a... (Dare I say it) log to sit on.

If you are just out for the day and the time arises, just find yourself a suitable spot (As above), dig yourself a hole no deeper than 6" and away you go.

The reason you shouldn't dig any deeper than 6" is that all the bacteria, that will assist in the breakdown of your waste, is present in those first 6" of the ground.

Once the operation is complete, carry out the required maintenance, drop the tissue into the hole and burn it using your lighter. Then cover everything up with the soil you have just excavated.

Hypothermia and How to Avoid It

Hydration, nutrition, proper clothing, layering and good rest management are all key to preventing hypothermia. Learn how to prevent, recognise, and treat this threat.

Cool to cold temperatures, light precipitation, exposure to wind, extended time outside. It sounds just like an autumn or winter hike in the Lake District! Unfortunately, these descriptors also characterise ideal conditions for hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a fairly common condition for mountain travellers. Mild hypothermia is a discomfort, but it’s dangerous in that it can progress rapidly. Left untreated, it can be lead to shock and it can be fatal. It’s important to know how to prevent hypothermia, how to identify if someone is hypothermic, and how to treat that person.

As a huge fan of winter camping, I focus most of my efforts against hypothermia in the prevention stage. Like dehydration, it’s much easier either to not allow it to happen, or to catch it early.

To understand prevention, it’s best to know what causes hypothermia:

  • Inadequate protection from exposure
  • Lack of proper hydration and nutrition
  • Improper planning for the activity or the conditions

When one is out exercising in cool weather, if the exercise rate is high enough and breaks are short, the body will keep itself warm (provided there is enough fuel and water on board). But down time due to unexpected delays, extended time out due to conditions or human factors, and lack of extra food and clothing are common situations that heighten risk of exposure. Hypothermia is often a secondary problem that arises after a separate issue, such as a twisted ankle or busted gear.

Look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Regardless of the forecast, if you will be in mountainous terrain, having extra layers, food and water is always a good idea. I carry a very lightweight bivvy bag as well. It only takes up little space, but could be a lifesaver.

If someone in your group ends up with serious hypothermia, it’s a true “stop and fix” situation. Unfortunately, in doing so you are putting more of the group at risk due to extended exposure to the same conditions. Picture a group huddled around a team member in the cold rain, on a windy mountain ridge with fading light. Always remember that for the hiker, prevention is your first line of defence against hypothermia.

Preventative steps

  • Hydration and nutrition. Have extra snacks and water, and keep them handy.
  • Proper clothing. Remember that “cotton kills.” When you might run into rain or snow, it's best to wear synthetic materials or wool, which, unlike cotton, can keep you warm even when wet.
  • Proper layering. Know how and when to make adjustments.
  • Good rest management. Pick rest stops that are sheltered, encourage eating and hydration at each stop, but keep break times short.

Despite good planning, sometimes the best intentions don’t pan out. Or, you may come across a hiker from another party who you may suspect is in trouble. What are the signs to look for?

Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia

  • The “Umbles”: stumbles, mumbles, grumbles, fumbles
  • Shivering
  • Changes in personality, especially quiet
  • Body temperature that is lower than normal, but usually above 90 to 92 degrees F

Signs and symptoms of severe hypothermia

  • Body temperature below 32.22 degrees C
  • No longer shivering, severe lack of coordination
  • Incoherence
  • Paradoxical undressing

Treatment of mild hypothermia

  • Get out of areas of exposure
  • Add insulating clothing layers
  • Replace wet base layers with dry ones
  • Exercise in short bursts to generate heat
  • Treat dehydration and ensure that adequate energy is on board

Treatment of severe hypothermia

  • A severely hypothermic patient is in a critical situation. Due to the potential for ventricular fibrillation, they must be treated very carefully. The best treatment involves protection from the elements and rewarming on the spot.

Bushcraft Survival & Nature Quotes

"Survival is more a mental exercise than physical…basically, it’s 85% mental and only 15% physical."
John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman, Presentation at The Bushcraft Show.

"No one's last words have been 'I wish I'd spent more time in the office"

"A sharp knife in the hands of a wise man is less dangerous than a blunt knife in the hands of a fool."
- Montivagus

"You will last 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food."
- Unknown (quoted by many, perhaps Lofty Wiseman?)

"There can be no peace in the world if we make no peace with the earth."
- Satish Kumar (BBC's Earth Pilgrim : A year on Dartmoor)

"Sometimes we have to get lost in order to find ourselves."
- Unknown.

Advice on knife use; "The pink things are fingers"

"Always hike in bear country with someone you can out run"

"Wolves did it!" (a good excuse for when you've burned another persons carefully carved pot hanger on the fire by mistake.)

"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing." 
- Aldous Huxley

"A white man makes a large fire and sits far away, an Indian makes a small fire and sits close."

"Being lost is a state of mind, not a state of place."

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. " 
- E. B. White

"The more you know the less you carry" 
- Mors Kochanski

"I once asked my grandfather if he'd ever been lost in the woods. He gave me a perplexed look and said, The woods are my home. How can I be lost when I'm at home?"

"Here is nothing (A Brazilian on seeing the Amazon forest for the first time). Here is everything (An indian who lives there)."

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"

"To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world." 
- Charles Dudley Warner

"Rabbits are there to feed everything else, and they know it" 
- Ben McNutt of Woodsmoke.

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
- John Ruskin

"It has been shown many times that people who are properly briefed, trained, drilled and with a knowledge of what to expect in a survival situation will show a higher degree of effectiveness should a situation arise". 
- Dr John Leach, Survival Psychology.

"The best knife is the one you have with you when you need it."

"I learned how much of what we think to be necessary is superfluous; I learned how few things are essential, and how essential those things really are" 
- Bernard Ferguson, Chindits, Burma 1943.

"Everything is edible, even the things that are not... Those kill you... Learn the difference..."

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it" 
- Henry David Thoreau - (1817 – 1862) - Walden or Life in the Woods

"If you spend all your time carving, then your foraging skills are probably neglected. Likewise, if you spend all your time collecting wild food, then your wilderness navigation skills have probably been neglected."
-Paul Kirtley

"Take only memories, leave only footprints." 
- Ray Mears

"A blunt blade is more dangerous than a sharp one" 
- Ray Mears

"Do not mess with the forces of Nature , for thou art small and biodegradable!"

"If you leave the Christian Bible outside, eventually the wind and the rain will destroy it. My bible IS the wind and the rain." 
- attributed to an unnamed Native American woman.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" 
- Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken

"When the first Europeans landed in the Americas, they described it as one vast untouched wilderness. This was about the highest compliment they could pay to the Native people who had lived there for thousands of years." 
- Bill Mason - at the start of Waterwalker

"Bushcraft is what you carry in your mind and your muscles." 
- Ray Mears

"Keeping you safe in the wilderness and keeping the wilderness safe from you!" 
- Green-Craft

"Fire-wood makes you warm three times; first collecting it, secondly shifting it and third when you burn it." 
- Ray Mears

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; We borrow it from our children"

"We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities." 
–NESSMUK (G.W. Sears), Woodcraft, 1963

"Never pick blackberries along the path that are below waist height."

"The bigger your rucksack the more you kitchen sink it" (stuff you don't need)

"The real measure of wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money." 

"Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time. Teach a man TO LEARN to fish and you empower him for a life time." 
- lao tzu

"Light a man a fire and he's warm for the night. Light a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life."

"Take only memories, leave only footprints" 
Ray Mears

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous." 
- Aristotle

"Nature does nothing uselessly." 
- Aristotle

"You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." 
- Catholic Saint (Bernard?)

"Knowledge is the key to survival, the real beauty of that is that it doesn't weigh anything." 
- Ray Mears

"There’s no such thing as Bushcraft equipment. There’s Bushcraft. And there’s equipment." - Paul Kirtley

Monday, 25 July 2016

Land Reform Act

Scotland's legislation for public access to the outdoors has seen a transformation under the Scottish Parliament, with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 establishing a statutory framework of public access rights to most land and inland water.

These legal rights are based on the principle of responsible access, with obligations both on the access users and on the managers of the land.  Guidance on these responsibilities is set out out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Scotland's local authorities and national park authorities are the access authorities in their areas, with a number of specific duties and powers under the Act.  These include developing a Core Paths Plan, keeping routes free of obstruction, and establishing a local access forum.

A 10-year review of the legislation by a government advisory group concluded that 'the new statutory framework should be judged a considerable achievement that has delivered significant public benefits', and it 'has delivered a progressive statutory framework for improved public access over land in Scotland'.

The links provide a copy of the whole Act; then a brief summary of the Act's provisions; and thirdly a more general explanation of what you can do and where you can go using your access rights

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 - Part One

Information Sheet - Summary of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2005 - Part 1 - (4pp)

Scottish Outdoor Access Code - Part 2 Access rights

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Knife Safety

After previously writing about UK knife law and axe safety, I thought I should write a post on knife safety.  So, here are a few knife safety tips:

  • Ensure that your knife is sharp.
  • Make sure that both the handle of the knife and your hands are dry.
  • Make sure that you have a firm grip on the knife, using a fist grip.
  • Always cut away from you.
  • Keep the fingers of your other hand behind the blade.
  • Ensure that your knife has full clearance from other people throughout its full range of motion; you might want to consider 2 arms lengths as the minimum distance, sometimes referred to as the blood bubble.
  • Never cut with the knife close to your femoral artery (it runs down the inside of the upper leg), so for example, if you are sat down carving, rest your elbows on your knees or cut off to one side.
  • Don’t wipe clean a knife across your leg.
  • Always put your knife back in its sheath immediately after use (also ensuring that you don’t lose your knife).
  • Closely related to the point above, don’t walk around with your knife in your hand.
  • Don’t stick a knife into a piece of wood after use; your hand might slip down the blade.
  • If you drop your knife, don’t try to catch it; step back and wait for the knife to stop moving.
  • If you need to pass a knife to someone, do so handle first with the blade up.
  • Don’t use the knife for prying things open.
  • Don’t use the knife after dark unless absolutely essential.

Knife safety – passing a knife

Also, bear in mind that you want to have full control of your knife when you are using it.  By that I mean that you should know where the knife will end up when you have finished whatever you are doing.   Often when you are using ‘power strokes’ the knife ends up carrying on moving after it’s left the wood.

If at any time you feel that you are having to use a lot of force, then think whether you are using the right knife stroke or technique, or indeed the right tool.

Axe Safety

The axe is a fantastic tool and one that needs to be mastered if you are serious about your bushcraft.  Consequently, I’ve written a couple of posts lately around using an axe, such as this one on cross cutting and this one on splitting a log.  So I thought I should probably put a few tips together on axe safety.

  • Put the mask on your axe when you’re not using it (this means no swinging your axe into a stump when not in use).
  • Inspect the handle for nicks or cracks or other damage.
  • Make sure that the head is attached securely to the handle and that it doesn’t wiggle about.
  • Check that the handle, and your hands, are clean and dry and free from anything slippy.
  • Remember that the closer to the head you hold the axe, the more control you have; the closer to the end of the handle, the more power you have.  So hold the handle according to the task you are undertaking.
  • If you’re swinging the axe, make sure that there are no overhanging branches, ropes or other obstructions that you could catch your axe on.
  • Make sure that no one is within 5m.
  • If splitting, use a firm and stable surface, such as a level stump.  Don’t chop into the ground.
  • When splitting on a stump, place the log furthest away on the stump.
  • Never cut a log leaning against an uneven surface.
  • Keep the chopping area clean and free of debris.
  • After chopping one log, stack the pieces to the side before beginning again with a new log.
  • Check that the log doesn’t contain material such as old nails or spikes.
  • If splitting small logs, consider using a ‘sissy’ stick.
  • Always stop when feeling tired.
  • Only use an axe after dark in an emergency.
  • Carry your axe cradled upside down in your hand with your arm by your side.

UK Knife Law

I would like to try to clear a few things up about knife law in the UK as there still seems to be a lot of confusion out there. We are not professing to be any form of experts on the subject but we hope the information given on this page will help act as a useful guide.

Please note that this information is supplied for your information only and in all cases it is up to you to make up your own mind. You need to also take into account the changing face of Devolution in Britain and the laws may change depending on where you are in the UK.

I am NOT Solicitor or Law Maker, so please follow the links at the bottom for more official information, or speak to a solicitor for legal advice. This information should not be relied upon in a court of law and you should always consult a Solicitor on legal matters, they are the experts in the Law and will be able to give you the best all round advice. Remember even if you believe yourself to be completely innocent of any crime you should, in all cases, consult a Solicitor.

"We have some pretty sensible knife laws in the UK that allow you to use a knife for it’s intended purpose – REMEMBER it is a tool for doing a job and it has, and always will be an offence to use it as a weapon.

The law is quite clear but can be a little vague in places, whether this is intentional I am unsure but it is likely that it is to allow a sensible Policeman to use his discretion as there are no “Black and White” cases when it comes to the law.

The Criminal Justice Act (1988) says that you may carry a knife with a blade length of 3.0" or less so long as it is capable of folding and does not lock -  so no fixed blade knives as an EDC!! This is for your “Every Day Carry” (commonly referred to as an EDC) or Pocket/Pen knife.

Remember, be sensible - There are exceptions to the EDC laws and you should fully research what they are but a knife has no place at a football match, in a pub, nightclub or school. This is not an exhaustive list and there are other areas of our lives that you shouldn't carry.

If you wish or need to carry a larger knife then you really need to have “Reasonable Cause”. That means that you must be able to prove that you had a genuine reason for carrying the knife. A “Reasonable Cause” can constitute a whole host of scenarios such as:

  • You may carry a larger bladed tool if it is associated with your work, for example, a Butcher or Chef may carry his knives to work. A builder or electrician has great need of a Stanley type knife for daily use.

  • If it is associated with your sport, for example a fisherman may carry a larger knife for fileting, cutting line etc., a hunter may carry a  fixed blade hunting knife of almost any size, if you are camping you may need a larger tool for any manner of tasks

These should all constitute a “Reasonable Cause” and you should not have any issues or dilemmas with the law -  BUT don't forget it is there! If you stop off anywhere on your way home take the knife off of your belt and put it in the boot of your car. If on foot, be sensible, take it off your belt and put it at the bottom of your rucksack. These actions will demonstrate that you have made the tool as inaccessible as possible and not available in “The Heat of the Moment”. Ignorance is not a defence in law and you cannot simply say "I forgot".

REMEMBER – Do not give the Police a hard time, just follow instructions and if you feel you are correct in your actions seek advice from a Solicitor after the fact to argue your case. DO NOT stand there and argue with the Police as you will not win or convince them they are wrong!!!

For more comprehensive information follow the links below to:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1988 - Section XI "Miscelleaneous" - Subsection 139 - 142 - "Articles with Blades or Points and Offensive Weapons



Thursday, 21 July 2016


Recently, a good friend of mine was heading out to Sweden and he asked if I knew the laws regarding rights of access and or wild camping, The law itself is known as Allemansrätten. (The Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) is unique and the most important base for recreation in Sweden, providing the possibility for each and everyone to visit somebody else's land, to take a bath in and to travel by boat on somebody else's waters, and to pick the wild flowers, mushrooms, berries.)

Many visitors to Sweden know of the Allemansrätten. However, They are not sure of what they are allowed to do - some think its freedom to do what they like!

It is YOUR responsibility to have knowledge about the rules concerning the Right of Public Access!

You have the right:

  • To take a walk, a bicycle, go horse riding, or to go skiing on all land not cultivated, and on such land that can not be damaged by your visit, this provided You do not cause any damage to crops, forest plantations and fences. However, you are not entitled to cross or stay on a private plot without permission. The plot, which is not always hedged or fenced in, is the area closest to a dwelling house.
  • To pick wild flowers (excluding those protected by law), berries, mushrooms, fallen cones, acorns and beechnuts on land that is not a building site, a garden or a plantation, to bathe or go by boat on most natural watercourses.
  • To take water from lakes and springs.
  • To put up a tent, or park your caravan, or trailer, for twenty-four hours. For a longer stay You have to have the permission of the owner.
  • You may make a fire, as long as You do not cause any damage, however there are restrictions during periods of drought when there is immediate liability for a forest fire. You may use fallen branches and or twigs as fire wood. Never light a fire on bare rocks as they will crack and split, resulting in ugly irreparable scars.
  • To bring Your dog and let it loose as long as You have full control. Restrictions are listed in local statutes and regulations.

You are prohibited:

  • To cause damage to, and/or pollute the land.
  • To ride on a motor vehicle on private property, so that damage may be caused, or on a private road, when the owner has forbidden such a state. Restricted areas are also gardens, cultivated sites, or, constructions made by the owner.
  • To breach branches and twigs, to take the birch, bark, leaves, bass, acorns, nuts or resin from growing trees and bushes.
  • To pick wild flowers protected by law.
  • To park a caravan or trailer in such a place where the land could be damaged.
  • To make fire so that the environment could be damaged or endangered.
  • To let dogs run freely on private hunting-grounds.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Review: Aspivenin

The entire insect world seems to regard my flesh as a rare delicacy so I'm always being stung when I go away. What can I do about it?

The ingeniously simple and practical Aspivenin is a small syringe-like pump with four tiny interchangeable cups. When you are stung, you place an Aspivenin cup over the skin, pull out the plunger and then slowly push it all the way back in. Doing so creates a vacuum under the cup - and this is strong enough to miraculously draw the sting back out while leaving the skin intact.

Q. How can you be sure it's got all the sting out?

A. Because you can see it. A tiny droplet of liquid appears on your skin - usually it is a slightly yellow colour, but it depends which species has just made a bee-line for you. With the sting extracted, the skin calms down and any minor swelling quickly goes away. The cups should be rinsed afterwards and the Aspivenin is safe to use on children. Fortunately, once "cocked" the Aspivenin is even easy to use one-handed - and it works in any temperature from -5 to +50 C. The Aspivenin is claimed to be effective on stings from bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, vipers, scorpions, harvest ticks, jelly fish, weevers...

Q. I'm beginning to itch. Who came up with this gizmo?

A. Frenchman André Emerit, a lifelong inventor who had entered and won a competition to make a mini-pump. He died in 1997, aged of 85, and his son Michael is said to have had a hand in getting the Aspivenin into commercial production as a medical aid.

Q. Will it sting my pocket?

A. Hardly. It costs between £16.00 and £20,00 depending where you shop online