Firemaking Full Day Course

Join Malcolm as he gathers natural materials (including different woods, bark and plants for kindling) and demonstrates bow-drill friction firemaking, before you have a bash yourself.

You’ll go away with your own basic fire kit, the knowledge of how to use it and the confidence you can create your own fire from scratch.

We teach fire making with an in depth knowledge of the process, even in wet and windy conditions. Each course is different, responding to your experience and needs.

You will learn:

  • Environment and foraging for the best materials
  • How to make, care for and use a friction fire kit
  • Master tips in using a bow drill
  • Location and fire safety
  • Choosing the best wood combinations
  • How to nurture and maintain fire safely
  • Problem solving and adaptation
  • Uses and types of fire

In the process you will also learn about the natural world around us, how it supports life and how our ancestors mastered fire to adapt their world and create who we are today.

You will have repeated practice sessions, to begin developing muscle memory and the process of making the fire kit will give you excellent bowing technique and the opportunity to find your own method. 

After making our fire for the day you get to practice more and enjoy a well earned tea brewed on your fire!

What should I bring?

  • Comfortable, warm layers of clothing that you don’t mind getting muddy or wet
  • Waterproofs
  • Packed lunch
  • Sunscreen if needed

Footwear is up to you and optional. If you have a knife you like to use bring it but all tools and materials are provided.

If you have any mobility or health concerns, please talk with us – we have worked with people of varying abilities and mobility constraints.

What about accommodation?

We are based on Bamff Estate, by Alyth in beautiful Perthshire, blessed with lovely holiday accommodation right onsite.

Bamff luxury yurts

Guests can stay on-site in a luxury yurt, cottage or camp using your own tent, while partaking in our courses, so they have a truly immersive experience.

Discover the wild beaver dams, natural regeneration, or track the roe deer and red squirrels at dusk.

At night you are lulled to sleep beneath the stars to the sounds of owls and wind in the trees.

The backdrop to your stay is the picturesque Bamff Castle, owned by the Ramsay family who manage the estate as an organic farm with bio-diversity and eco-tourism.

Bamff castle and eco estate, Perthshire

You mustn’t miss the beavers!

Find out more about Staying at Bamff.

What about food?

Food is not included in the courses as we all like different things but it is an integral part of any Five Senses experience: taste is equally important to all other sensations.

Self-catering is available to those staying with us at Bamff, and there are shops, pubs, a bakery and cafes in Alyth, nearby. In season there is lots to forage too. We recommend bringing a extra picnic lunch or dinner to enjoy after your course, or grab a take-away.

Do I need experience of the outdoors?

In a word, no.

Whether we collect plants for firemaking, make fire kits with tools, or walk in the woods, you need no prior experience of the outdoors: it’s all about learning something new.

This may be your first experience of Scotland’s true countryside or you might be a Munro bagger, but Five Senses courses offer something new for everyone. If you have any concerns please ask us. Malcolm will happily adapt a course to meet your needs and mobility.

Will there be other people there?

You will only share a course with strangers if you wish to.

You learn best when you are having fun and for many people being in the outdoors can be stressful, or a discomfort can be a distraction to learning. So, our courses are different: You will be in your own little group or alone and be warm and comfortable. You will also get high quality tuition in a relaxed atmosphere.

Why ‘five senses’?

We don’t just use our eyes and ears to learn the ancient skills or to experience the landscape, we immerse ourself in it and discover through tasting, feeling and smelling too – if you can.

By enlisting all the power of your senses, you learn deeply and gain a profound connection with nature, the history of human fire making and thus your entire world.

This approach makes our courses ideal for those who who have limited abilities, which is all of us.

How to get here?

There is ample car and bike parking, whilst those wishing to use public transport can catch the 57 bus from Perth or Dundee to Alyth. Services are hourly and traverse scenic countryside.

From Alyth you can walk the delightful, wooded Den of Alyth (SSSI) for the 2 1/2 miles to Bamff of you can arrange to be collected at the bus stop.

See the Bamff Estate website for directions.


Location: Scots Pine and Silver Birch woodland on the Bamff Estate, Alyth PH11 8LF

Arrival: 09:30 for introduction, tea & coffee etc

Start: 10:00 prompt

Lunch: Please bring your own packed lunch and drink

Finish: 16:00

Facilities: The site has a composting toilet and we will have appropriate shelter.

Price: £75 per person* (based upon 2 or more persons)

£20 single person supplement (£95)

“Thank you very much for giving us such a fantastic time, so much information, new skills and much food for thought, so, in a way it was an intellectual experience too!”

Claudia S.

Malcolm you are a talented person with such a special gift to see the world in all its wonder and be amazed. Thanks for sharing it. Rachel, thanks too, for sharing your smile, warmth and sincerity.

Mark T.

Thank you for an absolutely brilliant evening yesterday – Ellie hasn’t stopped talking about it since. We have tonight made fire and even demonstrated it to someone else.

Thanks again.

Alistair R.

Planting a naked foot on a board, Malcolm used a bow and hazel ‘drill’ to create flame. Even in these hi-tech days fire still has a magical power to thrill.

These are experiences the children will never forget. Science is all about seeing, enjoying, discovering, trying things out – and, sometimes, being so enthralled by a moment that it changes the way someone thinks for ever.

Janet C.