NaturalBushcraft is a collaboration between Ashley Cawley and Justin Telford. It all began in 2007 when Ashley first created the site as a way of sharing his bushcraft knowledge with like-minded people, demonstrating his skills in articles and through his YouTube channel.
Ashley and Justin met through The first NaturalBushcraft Meet, in early 2009, and immediately hit it off, having a mutual love for the subject, but more importantly, a desire to share their knowledge openly with others. After much discussion, they decided to join forces, their ultimate aim, to create a huge (and more importantly, free), resource of skills and information for anyone interested in bushcraft to enjoy. While they have a shared philosophy, they also embrace very different styles. Justin, being Ashley’s senior by nearly twenty years, is very set in his ‘low-tech’ views, whereas Ashley is more inclined to embrace any modern advancements in clothing and equipment. This gives them the advantage of being able to approach any subject from both sides of the coin, and give a much more rounded view.
Ashley Cawley’s early enthusiasm for the Great Outdoors stemmed from a childhood playing in the beautiful Cornish countryside. As a young teenager, Ashley was inspired by the books and television shows of Ray Mears, to a greater appreciation of wildlife and the natural world. Probably the most pivotal book at that time, was ‘Ray Mears Outdoor Survival Handbook’ (1992).
Ashley began wild-camping at an early age, enjoying the freedom and self-reliance that came with it. Being away from society, taught him a great deal about nature and helped forge his deep love of the wilderness. Ashley completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver awards while at school. Here he gained further skills including teamwork, leadership, and navigation which added to his already extensive outdoor knowledge.
Since then, Ashley has pursued an active involvement in bushcraft and the outdoors, honing his skills to a high level of competence. Part of that journey was the creation of NaturalBushcraft, a way for Ashley to share his skills, inspiring others to appreciate the wilderness as he did. He used NaturalBushcraft to bring together local people with similar interests at the now infamous ‘NaturalBushcraft Meets’. It was at the first of these meets that he met Justin.
Ashley has further honed his skills, through teaching others and continual practice. His particular expertise is in fire-lighting techniques, an area that seems to interest new bushcrafters more than any other. His abilities include both modern and ancient fire-lighting methods, and he is well known for being able to demonstrate an ember from a fire-bow in less than ten seconds (His current record is seven seconds!). However, Ashley’s skills go well beyond this, and his proficiency extends to all areas of bushcraft.
Justin Telford became involved in ‘outdoor pursuits’ in the mid nineteen-seventies. This progressed to a love of wild camping, a pursuit that was inspired by a childhood spent in scouting, and a father in the military.
During the nineteen-eighties, this led to an interest in survival techniques, inspired by the now famous ‘SAS Survival Handbook’.
During this time, Justin took every opportunity to be involved with his passion for the outdoors, as a Youth Leader, taking groups of kids out wild camping; Teaching orienteering for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
By the early nineties, Justin was also working as a single pitch climbing instructor, and taking groups out for survival weekends. During this time, he also pursued his love of solo camping, constantly testing himself in a variety of terrains and conditions
Justin first became aware of the term ‘Bushcraft’ with the coming of Ray Mears in the early nineties. This moved his interests from survival, to the more sustainable living that was offered by bushcraft. Justin is now an advocate of living with nature rather than trying to beat it. Having been a ‘kit junkie’ in the nineties, Justin now prefers a simpler approach to his bushcraft, opting for a ‘less is more’ style, preferring natural materials and home made equipment to more commercial gear. This approach proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the outdoors.
Justin’s particular interest is in wild food. This is everything from foraging to hunting and trapping. Although this interest started as a survival skill, it has moved passed a need to survive, into an interest in how things taste and can be used in our daily lives.
More recently, Justin has worked as both a Bushcraft and Wild Food instructor at various schools and events around the country. Justin is currently working as an instructor, teaching camp craft and wilderness and survival skills to physically and mentally disabled children and young adults.