We must rewild ourselves, says TV bushcraft star Ray Mears

A man holding binoculars looking into the distance.

Ray Mears wants us to reconnect with Nature. - Credit: David Osborn

Celebrity bushcraft expert Ray Mears tells SU CARROLL how we can all reconnect with the natural world.

Modern life often means whizzing from A to B by car, detached from the world around us. But lockdown brought with it a new-found (and necessary) enthusiasm for getting out in the open air which broadcaster and writer Ray Mears says provided a vital opportunity. 

“About two or three years ago I was asked to write a book about rewilding, which is all great, but I was much more interested in rewilding us,” he says. “To recalibrate is life-changing. I want to enhance our understanding and experience of Nature. When you drive down a road, you see everything at a set height. When we go to the supermarket we know what aisle to go down to look for the latest special offer. That’s completely contrary to the way it works in the wild.  

Man holding binoculars looking into the far distance.

Ray Mears shares his bushcraft secrets in a new theatre tour. - Credit: Ray Mears

“We have the abilities to unlock things that we don’t use. We have the capability of our senses to see more and feel more. It’s so satisfying. The subject is an intriguing one. When I first started to talk to people about this, people would look at me as if I was wasting my time. I find talking to people is like taking the blinkers off.” 

Ray is sharing his personal passion in a new UK tour - We Are Nature – An Invitation to Reconnect with the Natural World. He will explain how to get the most out of our surroundings by developing and more fully using our extraordinary natural senses of sight, sound, smell, and taste and will also raise awareness of the vast richness of the natural world.   

“This tour is all about that rediscovery of our senses which have evolved over two-and-a-half million years. It’s in less than one per cent of that time that we have ceased to be hunter-gatherers. It’s our biological heritage and it’s wonderful that people went out during lockdown, not just to discover Nature but to find solace and therapy from encountering Nature. The value we gain from green spaces was felt more keenly.” 

With demonstrations and audience participation, Ray will share knowledge that has, until now, only been accessible to students on his Woodlore courses. Audiences can expect a fascinating, inspirational, and educational show discussing the methods and equipment he uses when tracking rare wildlife for television. He will talk about the future, taking the audience on a fascinating exploration of the advanced technology of night vision and its future benefits - is it truly possible to see in the dark?  

Ray will also share his concerns about pressures on the environment with the green belt massively under stress. “Our forefathers said we should have green spaces and they were right,” says Ray. “When we look at all the things to do with threats to Nature there comes a time when we have to stand and fight for that.  

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“We can all make a very important difference. Act locally to protect wildlife in the area you are in. Biodiversity is really important to us all. You can leave a little bit of your garden for wildlife, or if you live in a flat, have a windowbox with flowers - it will help insects.  

“Where we already have existing green spaces, we must retain them. Trees are really important but we get so many mixed messages about trees and they are not the total solution to the carbon issue. They do hold water on the land, prevent soil erosion, take pollution out of the air and provide a living space for wildlife. We need trees but it’s simply not enough to plant lots of trees.” 

A man starting a fire by blowing embers on straw.

Ray Mears is sharing his personal passion in a new UK tour. - Credit: Ray Mears

Ray is looking forward to getting out and talking to real people. “When the audience leave they are more engaged with Nature. People reach too readily for technology when they should just sit really quietly in a hedge. You will notice things you wouldn’t notice with a low-grade camera. It’s so rewarding,” he says. 

“The audiences are a complete cross-section – families, all ages. It’s going to be fun. People will be astonished. It’s all about taking the blinkers off and opening people’s hearts to Nature. It’s important for society to take a second and look again at something.” 

  • Ray Mears We Are Nature – An Invitation to Reconnect with the Natural World is at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, on March 6. Book online here