In a couple of weeks the Bluebells will be out in force and here in Cornwall there are some great places to visit where you can bask in the majesty of their presence.

The native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are the epitome of the British woodland at this time of year and are a proctected species under the Wildlife and countryside act 1981.  This means that digging up the bulb and plant in the countryside is prohibited and landowners are not allowed to remove bluebells from their land to sell.

The Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) was introduced to British gardens by the Victorians in the early 20th century and escaped into the countryside – this is not protected. Spanish bluebells are lighter in colour than their british counterparts and sometimes pink.  They have blue anthers not white, wider leaves and their structure is more upright with less droop and flowers emerging in all directions from the stem.

The Spanish bluebell can now be found alongside our native species in woodland and hedgerows. Unfortunately the Spanish and British bluebell hybridise easily which muddies the water a little.

The Hybrid bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) has characteristics of both the British and Spanish bluebell but the anthers are pale to dark blue and although they may droop to one side they generally have flowers arranged all around the stem.

So what does all this have to do with survival and bushcraft?  Ever since I watched Ray Mears controversially chew up a bluebell bulb in his BBC2 series “Bushcraft” I have been intrigued by natural glues.  There are a number of resources that can be prepared and processed to make glue but bluebells have a long history with a variety of applications.



As Bluebells are poisonous their use as a glue for book-bindings not only held together extremely well but also allegedly deterred Silverfish, moths and other paper munching pests.  They have also been used to affix arrow fletchings since at least the 16th century but potentially much longer.

As I had an old arrow in need of repair I was keen to experiment!  Firstly, I should state that I gave myself permission to dig up some Spanish Bluebells from my own garden then, having washed the bulbs, I set to mashing them up into a paste.

They transformed instantly into a tacky paste and I applied them to my prepared arrow shaft before binding the fletchings with some rafia.

With the leftover ‘glue’ I wanted to experiment a little to see what stuff I could stick to other stuff and I set about trying to capture one of my children.  My eldest is now fairly quick and nimble, having recently been training for the school cross country so I turned my attention to the youngest one.  Unfortunately she has taken on a bit of a growth spurt of late and these longer limbs combined with still being small enough enough to climb through hedges and bramble thickets allowed her to evade me fairly easily also!

Eventually I settled with trying to adhere a lighter to the underside of a cherry branch and it stuck there for a good minute before finally falling off!

In conclusion the glue I produced was very easy to make and pretty effective despite not being a particularly fine paste.  The arrow fletchings were still firmly attached after a couple of shots with my wildlife bow and it has dried quite nicely.

If you want to experiment yourself with making natural glues from Bluebell bulbs please don’t go around the countryside digging them up without the permission of the landowner regardless of it’s type protected or otherwise.  If you have bluebells in your garden then please be sure to identify them correctly and only use the non-native varieties or visit a local garden centre and purchase them.


Godolphin House, Lanhydrock, Tehidy Country Park and Pencarrow are transformed into a shimmering carpet of blue throughout late April and May – well worth a visit!

Our site at Scorrier has a magnificent display of bluebells this time of year – why not visit us and see for yourself?




There are a couple of things to bear in mind here.  Firstly, you want to make sure that the site you use isn’t going to collect water so avoiding flood plains and areas that are likely to become boggy or pool with water is important.  By paying attention to the relief of the ground and avoiding depressions or obvious channels that might become streams in bad weather you’ll likely stay dry.

This is important even if you are hammock camping – there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning suspended over a swamp!

Secondly, being close to a viable water-source is going to make life easier in the long run.  You’ll have to make it safe to drink by purifying it but if you have a choice, go for running water over a stagnant pool.  By doing this you will reduce the likelihood of contaminants and minimise illness.


The primary purpose of a shelter is to protect from wind and general weather so knowing the wind direction is key.  If in the UK, the prevailing wind blows in from the SW.  Making sure that you’re using your landscape accordingly and taking advantage of the leeward side of hills, rock formations and other features will keep you protected.

To get a good idea of local wind conditions look at the landscape to see how the wind has shaped it.  The nearest treeline is a good place to start and will almost certainly hold clues you can use to determine prevailing wind direction.

Wind can vastly reduce your core temperature, particularly if you are wet after being caught in a downpour or if you’ve been sweating making camp!


Having a good supply of firewood close to camp is a huge advantage, allowing you to start and sustain your fire throughout the night aiding you to keep your core temperature up.   If you have access to a good variety of sizes of standing deadwood and natural tinder then you’ll be well prepared.

Ensure that you have larger material prepped and ready to burn overnight – you’ll sleep much better if you don’t have to keep stoking the fire and your aim should be to still have enough heat in the heart of it to easily get it going again in the morning.

Think also about which direction you’ll be carrying it back to camp – better to slide it downslope than waste valuable calories dragging it uphill.


With all woodland environments comes the potential for injury.  It isn’t uncommon for there to be fallen trees propped up on there neighbours or huge limbs and branches to be hung up in the canopy – at some point these will either catch the wind or their supports will give way and they will end up on the forest floor.

When selecting a site you will need to check the canopy for any of these widowmakers and it’s a good idea to go as far from camp as the tallest trees are tall.  It would suck to be crushed in your sleep by some prime firewood!


In the UK we have little to fear from our wildlife but it is a good idea to take note of tracks and game trails in the area.  Those track makers may well be on the menu if you are in a survival situation so identifying the comings and goings of whatever is around might prove useful in the future.  Elsewhere in the world there are some dangerous animals to be aware of so local knowledge is important and you should clue yourself up on how to identify them.

If several larger game trails merge it can indicate that water is close by and it’s a good idea to move to a quieter spot before setting up camp.

Dependant on the time of year you might get pestered by insects such as mosquitos and midges but assuming you have fire you use smoke to deter them effectively by throwing on a handful of damp leaflitter or green foliage.

Ensure also to keep camp clean and free from food waste as this will keep rodents and other critters away – I once lost half a packet of custard creams to an army of shrews!


By ensuring that your chosen site provides you with access to or protection from the 5 W’s you’ll set yourself up for success when setting up your camp.  Something else to bear in mind when prioritising for survival is THE RULE OF 3’S.

To find out more and put some of these principles into practice why not attend one of our survival courses?



A Question we are often asked is how to prioritise in a survival situation, what do you need to do first?

When prioritising there are a number of variables to take into account from environmental factors to the mechanism by which survival is necessary.

In all cases the first thing to get out of the way is to deal with injuries and any immediate risk of harm.  Move yourself and others away from any potential dangers before focusing on and treating any medical issues.

Once satisfied that immediate health concerns are under control, it’s time to take stock and figure out both where you are and just how likely you are to be rescued.

The Rule of 3’s

A good guiding principle to inform decision making in survival situations is The rule of 3’s.

General survival rates:

  • 3 minutes – without air
  • 3 hours – without a maintained Core Temperature
  • 3 days – without water
  • 3 weeks – without food

Civilisation may be just several or hundreds of miles away and knowing this is going to influence the decisions you make and your next steps.

Once you have established how long you might need to stay in the wilderness then it’s time to focus on choosing a suitable location that meets your individual or your groups needs.


When looking for a good site you need to make sure that it will meet both your immediate and future needs, however long that may be.

Protecting yourself from the elements and maintaining warmth is your top priority but doing so miles away from a suitable water source is a bad idea.  Likewise bedding down near a stream on an exposed hillside without a readily available supply of fuel for the fire is an equally poor choice.

The location you choose should keep you safe and give you easy access to all the things that you will likely need for immediate survival.

A suitable site should provide easy access to or protection from the 5 W’s.


Following these general rules will enable you to establish a safe and suitable base in the best possible location.  To find out more and put some of these principles into practice, why not attend one of our Survival courses?

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