I managed to get out for 39hours in the woods just after the dumping of snow in the south east of England, I decided to grab my larger pack that was already packed with some outdoor gear I just needed to add my sleeping bag and wool blanket. This was going to be a sleeping on the floor trip I don’t get to do them often but I thought as its “winter” I would sleep next to the fire.
I also got the chance to test out a few different items that we sell in the HCB store and do some reviews on them (can be found on the HCB channel YT) The first item was the most important of them A inflatable mat with insulation inside!
So it was 2pm and I left the house for the woods it’s a great time to get out lots of daylight left so lots of wood collecting time, I was dropped off to my old woods within 10 mins so had a short walk over the ice covered paths which was fun with a large pack filled with water! I got to the location I had planned to use and put my rucksack in the tree off the snow. Cleared the general area of snow and of I went to get some wood, the trick with this woodland is to plan ahead, when I take day walks in these woods I pick up any dead branches and logs and either prop them up or hang them in the tree so they air dry.
This made for very easy work and in no time at all I had collected big piles of wood without cutting anything, next I “sorted my wood” out into grades and off I go again with saw in hand to collect some more wood this time larger, longer burning dead wood. On the way in I walked past a large dead fallen beach tree and boy this thing was large, I always check what can be pulled off first to save some energy then set to the saw. I collected 5 huge branches by snapping them and dragged them back to camp then went back for more.
By the time I was finished collecting wood and cut it up etc it was getting dark so I had to set up my shelter as it was getting very cold and because the air temperature was already in the negatives so I had to get the fire going too. I got my tarp up in the lean-to set up using my Tatonka 3 x 3 and using two emergency casualty blankets I put one on the floor under my tarp and the other set up in a reflector fashion.
Once I got the tarp up I got the fire going, using some tindercard and a waxy ball the fire was going in no time. I had collected a huge amount of kindling and put that on top then two handfuls of twigs. This gave me time to get the rest of my gear sorted out and to get some water in a pot to get on the boil. I set the fire place just over one pace away from my shelter just to see how much heat would get to me, I later moved the fire closer as it was getting colder.
I got some more filming done then went to get a brew to keep me warm I felt for my water bottles behind me grabbed one and went to open it, it was frozen stiff there was only one thing for it and that was in the form of snow! I later got in my sleeping bag and pulled the wool blanket over the top to protect the sleeping bag from heat and sparks this was definitely a warm cosy way to spend the night in the woods. I had down loaded a great podcast to listen to later in the night entitled “guide to the English” by Ricky Gervais and co. Was a very funny hour and if anyone else was in the woods they would have thought 10 or more people were with me laughing. I fell asleep not long after and woke to the sound of badgers calling.
I stoked the fire and got it going again then went off to sleep I woke again just before light to get the fire going again, this time I’m not so sure what woke me up but I was sweating and the outside temperature was -7 this time the fire was not enough to keep me warm out of my sleeping bag so it was time to set up a heat reflector, in my BCB Crusader mess tin I had created a survival kit for someone that never paid up so I thought I would get it out and have a look see, I saw the silver blanket and knew exactly what to do.
Now It was warm in fact I felt that I was in an oven, I had to take a few layers off to get comfortable which was nice also to get some air. I collected some more snow and put it in my crusader mess tin I had to leave it on the granite rocks that were around the fire for a while first to melt just a little so I could add lots more snow balls to the mix, put the tin on the fire and about 10 mins later I had a brew. I got up and collected some more wood, cut it up and got to some more filming, then it was breakfast time and it could not come quicker the energy I had used meant the sounds I could hear was coming from my gut not the woods.
The reflector had been working a treat even with the cold wind chill there was a constant air temperature in my tarp of around +5 and with the temperature outside at -4, I was happy with that. I had to pack my sleeping bag away as it was down and down is allergic to the damp so off it went into a stuff sack. I then had to put the mat away to stop it getting ruined by sparks so I folded up the wool blanket and used that as my insulation from the ground. I sorted out my gear and pout away what I didn’t need. I then went out to collect a log that I had left to season a few months ago, I was going to carve a spoon for someone after finding the log splitting it down and roughing the shape out it was lunch time and again I was very hungry (see video soon)
I fed myself restaurant style (no I didn’t) and went off to collect some wood to store for my next trip, it’s one of those things I do before leaving a site that I had planned to visit again and again, I left a kindling bundle of silver Birch twigs and lots of dried dead wood just enough to get and keep the fire going for about an hour.
My time ended in the woods with a few reviews done and some phone calls made it was back to work for me but hey it was a great trip and a warm one at that!