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Global focus for Lakes’ survival trailblazer

Lisa Fenton with Namibia’s indigenous peoples – the Himba in the Koakoveld.

A Lake District-based bushcraft expert has spoken to leading international figures and specialists in military survival at a global gathering in Canada.

A lecturer in outdoor studies at University of Cumbria (UoC), Dr Lisa Fenton told around 300 delegates from across America, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Holland about a ‘transformative’ process linking people back to the natural world.

In a keynote speech to the Global Bushcraft Symposium, she outlined the history of the craft, talked about military survival skills, along with outdoor recreation and educational opportunities.

She explained: “There is an increased separation from the natural world, mediated by technology and industrial processes.

“I’m delighted to be able to announce that our Department of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies has just validated a new Masters’ degree with a bushcraft pathway, starting September 2020.

“There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world and it’s a very exciting first for UoC.”

Former apprentice to renowned self-sufficiency guru and TV presenter Ray Mears, Dr Fenton’s own voyage of discovery began as a north London city girl when she discovered what the wilds had to offer.

With a growing worldwide interest in the subject, Britain’s awareness has been inspired by Ray Mears and his broadcasting triumphs, starting with Wild Tracks, said Dr Fenton, who lectures at UoC’s Ambleside campus.

“Bushcraft seeks to knit us back to the bits of nature that surrounds us, bringing about a more simple and direct relationship with landscape.

“It has the potential to allow us to re-engage and is being used in forest schools, education, as well as areas of health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Fenton co-founded and ran the Woodsmoke School of Bushcraft and Wilderness Survival in the Lake District for 18-years.

She is a doctor of ethnobiology, the study of humans’ relationship with the natural environment, from past to present, and has lived among people and wilderness in some of the world’s most remote regions.

She said: “Indigenous people work with nature, often on a spiritual level. While you don’t find bushcraft people getting too spiritual, they make that same connection with the natural world.”

Following the global symposium at Foothills Camp, Alberta, in Canada, Dr Fenton has been asked to co-host the 2021 event in the UK.

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