Imagine there’s an apocalyptic zombie invasion. Or nuclear fallout. Or you drive out in to the middle of nowhere for a camping trip and accidentally lock yourself out of the car, only to realise you’ve left all your gear on the back seat, dammit. Either way, you’re stuck out in the wild with little but your wits to rely on – could you cope? Put yourself to the test at one of these survival camps.
Bear Grylls Survival Academy, Scotland
As Bear Grylls is the ultimate posterboy for survival adventures, you can be pretty confident you’ll learn a thing or two about taking care of yourself on one of his Survival Academy courses. Scott Heffield, lead instructor at Bear Grylls Survival Academy, tells TNT: “The BGSA ‘Survival in the Highlands’ course is no boot camp. It’s an intensive five-day course that incorporates epic journeys across rugged and mountainous terrain and prepares participants to deal with extreme survival situations.
“It culminates in a 36-hour, gruelling survival exercise that begins as they are dropped just off the shore of an uninhabited island. Participants then have to wade or swim through icy waters off the northwest coast of Scotland to reach land and are left with only a knife and an empty water canteen.
“The most challenging part of the course is these final 36 hours, as they have to apply all the skills taught in the previous days to build a shelter, light a fire, locate food and water and, most importantly, get rescued. No one’s going to help them. It’s self-rescue, Bear Grylls style!”
Key skills: Primal instinct training, improvised first aid, use of snares and traps, sourcing and purifying water and various techniques for covering rough terrain, including abseiling.
Rough ride? One of the challenges of the Highlands course is the possibility you’ll have to catch, skin, barbecue and eat a wild rat. That’s pretty hardcore. For those who just want a taster, the Bear Grylls Academy will be running a 24-hour course in Surrey at the end of September.
The damage: The 24-hour Surrey course costs £349pp. The five-day ‘Survival in the Highlands’ course is £1899pp.
Another hero of the British outdoors, Ray Mears founded Woodlore, The School of Wilderness Bushcraft, 30 years ago. If you want an overview of basic woodland skills, the best option is the two-day ‘Introduction to Bushcraft’ course. This is one of the gentler courses out there, focusing on learning about the natural environment in everyday conditions. You don’t need to be an experienced ‘outdoorsy type,’ just have an interest in how to make use of nature.
Key skills: Making shelters, building fires, navigation and tracking, and learning about useful plants and trees.
Rough ride? There’s a camp nearby with tea, coffee, squash and biscuits on offer. So, no, not particularly gruelling.
The damage: The two-day ‘Introduction to Bushcraft’ course costs £300pp.
Trueways Survival School, various locations
You can guarantee there’ll be no biscuit handouts on this course, which is designed by ex-SAS hardman John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman, who is also the author of The SAS Survival Handbook: How To Survive In The Wild, In Any Climate, On Land Or At Sea.In other words, it’s not going to be a cushy couple of days.
The two-day ‘Basic Survival Skills’ course includes skills you’d need to survive in the wilderness in the UK, as well as general principles you can use if you find yourself in a spot of bother anywhere in the world. Techniques taught are based on the tried and tested experience of Lofty himself.
Key skills: Shelter-building, fire, water, wild food, navigation skills, basic medical skills and survival psychology.
Rough ride? You think they stop for tea breaks in the SAS? This certainly won’t be a walk in the park.
The damage: The two-day ‘Basic Survival Skills’ costs £189pp. Hire of equipment such as sleeping bags and survival knives can be booked in advance and costs extra.
Photos: Getty, Thinkstock, Bear Grylls Survival Academy