Using a bow drill to make fire

Perfect for a weekend getaway, this is our intensive firemaking course suited to those who want to learn everything there is to know about making fire.

Over two days and an evening, you learn the art of firemaking by collecting supplies and foraging, creating your own tools, and making fire from scratch.

Rather than just visiting for a day, you spend a weekend with us on the 14th-century Bamff Estate. And rest assured, you’ll be an expert by the time you leave us.

This course passes down myriad knowledge and skills spanning the history of firemaking, including bow drill use and design, hand drill, fire kits (natural and high tech), flint and steel, cordage, tinders and wood selection, stone tools and improvisation, travelling with fire, lighting in all-weather.

What happens?

Day One:

  • Mastering the bow drill
  • Fire kit design
  • Using a flint and steel
  • How to forage
  • How to handle and move fire safely

Day Two:

  • Hand drill and variations
  • Working without metal
  • Natural cordage
  • How to succeed in wet conditions

What will I learn?

  • Make fire reliably on your own
  • How to make and use a bow drill
  • Fire kits: natural and high tech
  • How to use a hand drill and variations
  • How to make cordage from plants
  • Using a flint and steel
  • Foraging and selecting tinders and wood
  • Improvising with stone tools

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.

This course is particularly popular with couples and families looking to do a memorable weekend getaway.

 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.

Check Dates / Buy Tickets


Location: Bamff, Perthshire (PH11 8LF)

Duration: Two Days

Time: Saturday 10am – Sunday 4pm, arrive before 9.30am for tea & coffee and introduction. Other days available during school holidays

Accommodation: Camp with your own tent or take advantage of the luxury yurts or self catering cottages on site. Priced separately. See Bamff Ecotourism Estate for full details.

Price: £185 per person (based upon 2 or more persons)

£40 single person supplement (£225)

*price inc fire kit worth up to £40, inc evening camp fire – accommodation and food not included

(Psst – bring your family and they can relax while you learn)

Check Dates / Buy Tickets

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.

“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.