Survival expert brings '˜bushcraft' to the Peak District
A survival skills expert who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry has just set up shop in Bakewell.
Jason Ingamells has been running his hugely successful ‘Woodland Ways’ company from Bedfordshire for the last 11 years.
During that time, the 39-year-old Matlock man has inspired countless people with life-changing nature experiences in almost every corner of the globe.
In coming to the Peak District, however, he realised a long-standing ambition to bring his particular brand of outdoor adventure to a place he loves.
“We see what we do as reconnecting people with the wilderness,” says Jason.
“We teach people skills and then enable them to apply that knowledge in a real environment.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to share my knowledge with people.
“Having these experiences quite literally changes people’s lives.”
Jason’s job takes him all over the world, and the scale and breadth of his experience is astonishing.
In the recent past, he has tracked wolves and bears in Croatia and three weeks ago was just 20 feet away from a lion in Africa.
“As a kid I was a parent’s worst nightmare,” he says.
“I was always running away from home, building dens in the woods, lighting fires.
“There wasn’t really a name for it back then but those experiences led me into a lifelong passion for bushcraft.
“After becoming a survival skills instructor I was able to start sharing those skills with others.”
Jason’s new King Street base contains a veritable treasure trove of inspiration and equipment for the experienced and novice backwoodsman alike, all sourced and approved by Jason himself.
But as well as all the goodies on show, the building itself is a thing to behold - although not without drawbacks.
Complete with a fitting association with the famous Bagshaw family of local foresters, its stunning exposed oak beams certainly show the 400-year-old building off in all its glory.
Its listed status, however, has meant that identifying acceptable external signage has been challenging, to say the least.
Jason is now keen to start working with local landowners - including some of the biggest names in the area - to bring the Woodland Ways ethos to the Peak District.
Of the current popularity of survival shows, he says he can feel ‘uncomfortable’ with the way some are presented on television.
Nevertheless, in an illustrious career so far, he has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Bear Grylls.
I tell Jason his more thoughtful and contemplative philosophy of outdoor experiences reminds me more of famous TV outdoorsman, Ray Mears.
“Thanks, but I’d rather be the first Jason Ingamells,” he says.
“I have always aimed at being the best bushcraft and survival skills teacher in the UK.
“Since 2006 we have grown from just me into a half a million pound company - the biggest in the country.
“We now employ seven full time staff as well as another 20 trainees, part time and seasonal staff.”
Jason says they will work with people from eight to 81 and provide everything from short workshops to week long courses and full overseas expeditions.
The overseas trips Jason organises cover countries all over the globe and take place in every environment and climate you can think of.
Of all the places he has been, however, it is Africa that holds the most special place in his heart he says.
“My love of Africa began as a result of spending time living with the Maasai in Kenya.
“To be able to witness first hand how they maintain their traditions in a world that is changing around them is so humbling to see.”
It is his experiences with the Maasai tribe that led Jason to create the Woodland Ways Bushcraft Foundation.
The foundation came about after Jason led a number of expeditions from which profits were donated to the Maasai community.
The money they have raised has already secured land, built a school and continues to pay for education along with numerous other projects.
It is this connection with people that comes across most strongly when speaking with Jason.
And it is further reflected in the role he sees for his company.
“We don’t actively go out looking for bookings - they just come in,” says Jason.
“But more than that I want the shop to be a place where people can just come in and have a cup of tea.
“If you want some advice on what equipment or skills you might need for your own trips, just come in.
“All that is free of charge.”
If you would like to find out more about what Woodland Ways can offer, visit www.woodlandways.co.uk or call 01234 351006.