Gap Year

In an increasingly uncertain and dehumanising world, we want to empower individuals and groups to re-discover their innate human capacity for surviving and thriving, with few resources and in cooperation with the natural world. Our year-long immersion will cover everything from basic bushcraft survival skills ,to the creation of beautiful and useful implements for home and life, using both traditional and innovative craft techniques. Participants will also work with us during the year to build a tiny house/strawbale cabin on our land at Marcaisse organic farm in Rafford, Scotland, and thereby learn all the techniques necessary to build a similar construction for themselves. Survival/ Bushcraft skills we will cover include: . Hunting . Fishing . Fire lightning . Shelter building . Foraging . Orienteering + much more! Craft modalities we will be teaching include: . Basketry . Coffin making . Furniture making . Knife making . Leatherwork . Spoon carving . Felting . Weaving . Spinning . Making and using natural dyes . Paint and ink production from plant sources + more! Building techniques we will cover include: . Foundations, including Car Tyre foundations. . Basic woodwork for walls, floor and roof. . Strawbale infill . Clay and Lime plastering

Our local area:

Scotland is one of the last great wildernesses on the planet, and Moray, where we are situated, is one the most outstandingly beautiful and varied landscapes in Scotland. This gives us the unique advantage of being able to teach Bushcraft/survival skills in diverse natural locations all within easy reach of our craft centre. Each setting provides its own specific challenges and opportunities, from the rare dunelands which boarder the Findhorn bay, and the vast expanse of the man-made Culbain Forrest, to unique salt marshland, and the world-renowned beauty of the Findhorn river valley. Even the mountainous region of the Cairngorms national park is only an hour’s drive from our centre. Course participants will visit all of these locations in the orientation week at the beginning of the year, and we will be running several week-long bushcraft excursions to these special environments throughout the year.

Living and learning at NU:

We believe that the future of humanity depends on our ability to recognise not only our interdependence with the natural world, but also with each other through the transformation of economic, political and social systems. While we cannot solve these issues on a global scale, we are conscious of the way in which our local project reflects and plays into the bigger picture. As a craft and survival centre, we want to promote not only skills necessary for self-reliance, but also the social and interpersonal skills necessary for group endeavours. For these reasons we try to balance the teaching of specific methods which benefit the individual, with team projects where we learn through experience to work well with others. Full time course participants will be offered spaces in our purpose built shared living accommodation, and we will be encouraging the year group to work together to meet their requirements for food etc by providing access to land for growing vegetables and other natural resources as well as guidance in permaculture techniques for low cost living. If certain individuals prefer there will be other options at Marcassie farm for more independent living arrangements. We want the year to be challenging but also fun and stress free so will always make an effort to accommodate individual preferences. Most days will run from 10am to 4pm with a break for lunch. There will be holidays in the autumn, spring, and also over the Christmas period, but we will be working through most of the summer as this is the time to get things done in Scotland! Most weekends will be free time although we will have weekend ‘electives‘, running in various crafts from time to time ( more details to follow) Please see our example timetable below for more information on the core elements of our program, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly for anything we have so far missed!
  • The anticipated cost for the full gap year program including materials and accommodation is expected to be in the region of £8,000.
  • Our Gap year is open to all ages (18+) , and is due to be launched in September 2021, from our purpose built strawbale craft centre ( build happening 2020 , volunteer opportunities! We will keep you undated on our website as things unfold or contact us directly).
  • Initially, we will only be able to accommodate five full time participants during the gap year, so make contact with us ASAP if you are interested as we anticipate spaces will fill very quickly.
If there are elements of our programme you are interested in learning before 2021 , or if you cannot commit to the full year but would like to join us for certain activities, please get in touch as we already provide flexible tuition in many of the areas mentioned above.

Other opportunities

Naturally Useful ,in conjunction with Marcaisse organic farm ,is aiming to become a worldwide centre of excellence in craft and survival skills ,eventually offering a variety of training/ courses for the general public , but also for schools and corporate groups. We are passionate about the therapeutic potential of these skills to  restore the individual to full confidence in their ability to be self-reliant. If you are interested in joining our growing team of committed and skilled individuals ,as a tutor/ maker , and helping us to forge the future of our enterprise, then please contact us via email or speak to us directly. We will be updating this page as things unfold over the next year.