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Your chance to be like Ray Mears!

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:50 08 July 2010

Mark Wilkinson who is launching a survival skills course.

Mark Wilkinson who is launching a survival skills course.

A dedicated Scout with a lifetime experience of nature is setting up camp in one of Norfolk's most unusual woodlands, teaching survival skills - in the style of TV adventurer Ray Mears.

A dedicated Scout with a lifetime experience of nature is setting up camp in one of Norfolk's most unusual woodlands, teaching survival skills - in the style of TV adventurer Ray Mears.

Mark Wilkinson has rented a site near the famous Extreeme Adventure Park in New Woods at Weasenham and is now preparing to open Activ-8 Adventure, the first bushcraft school in the county.

Those in search of adrenalin-fuelled adventure will be able to taste a range of activities including archery, rifle shooting, bushcraft, kayaking, canoeing, tree climbing, team building, raft building and orienteering.

“Courses will focus on survival skills taught at all levels - beginners, intermediate and advanced,” said Mark, 45, who also runs a canoeing adventure on the Broads.

“The main thing about it is that people will be able to recognise the birds flying around, the trees in the woodland and develop respect for nature.”

Together with his friend Mr Darcy, a zippy cocker spaniel, he is working against the clock to set up the archery and rifle range and put the finishing touches to the site's nature trail in time for the official opening.

“People will come here in the morning, our instructors will explain how to make a fire, build a shelter and find food, and then they will be sent out in the wood and asked to perform certain tasks.

“They will also be shown how to make a fishing rod and then we'll take them to a river nearby where they will catch fish.

“However, whatever they catch will be released back into the river. Instead, people will get a sardine from the supermarket,” he said.

People joining the course will also be able to explore the woodland which is unique through its collection of exotic trees and plants including redwood and the rare handkerchief tree as well as azaleas and rhododendron.

The site's history dates back to the Boer War in the late 19th century when native trees were felled and used during the conflict.

The woodland near Weasenham was later acquired by the Coke family - owners of the Holkham estate - who replanted it with exotic species. “It is a unique site and we are very privileged to be here,” he said.

Mark also runs canoe courses on the Broads and will be offering a four-day bed-and-breakfast canoe trail at the end of April.

The bushcraft site will open on April 27. Transport to and from the site can be provided as well as overnight accommodation in what is probably the region's largest tepee.

Bushcraft courses can be organised for half or full days or weekends for groups of six or more.

For more information, contact Mark Wilkinson on 07810838052 or visit www.activ-8.org

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