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Lisa Fenton

Bushcraft and survival skills instructor, Dr. Lisa Fenton, enjoyed an auspicious four-year apprenticeship under the expert tutelage of Ray Mears during the late 1990s. Subsequently, in 2001, Lisa and Ben established ‘Woodsmoke’ as a joint enterprise that has seen them instruct many thousands of individuals in a huge variety of applied and advanced wilderness bushcraft/survival techniques, also facilitating and leading numerous overseas journeys into remote and wild landscapes spanning Jungle, Desert, winter sub-Arctic, and a variety of Northern-temperate regions. Lisa has delivered lectures and presentations about ‘wilderness bushcraft’ and ‘indigenous knowledge’ to academic audiences, including the International Congress of Ethnobiology 2010 (British Columbia), the Royal Anthropological Institute Post Graduate Seminar 2014 and to under-graduates and post-graduates attending Outdoor Education degree programs. Also to professional, popular and international audiences, and has contributed to popular magazine publications.lisa_igloo_portrait2
As an international Expedition Leader and Summer Mountain Leader, Lisa has led scientific conservation expeditions to track, trap and radio-collar wolves and lynx in the winter conditions of the Polish Carpathian Mountains; similarly tracking leopards, cheetah and related prey species in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia, living in wilderness for months at a time. Lisa’s combined love of wild places, ethnobotany and associated culture has led her to expedition through arduous climates and globally remote environments.

As an academic, Lisa completed an ethnobotany MSc in 2008 at Kent University in conjunction with Kew Gardens, gaining a ‘distinction’ for her final thesis on British wild  plant foods. In 2016, Lisa completed her PhD in ethnobiology at Kent University, School of Anthropology and Conservation. Dr. Fenton’s research investigated ‘Bushcraft and Indigenous Knowledge Transmissions’. Her doctoral research was supervised by the distinguished anthropologist Prof. Roy Ellen, and took Lisa to remote areas of the USA, spending two and half months of 2011 tent-dwelling in desert, mountain and forest environments with her then eight month old son in tow. Through the combination of her extensive practical and real-life experiences in bushcraft and travel, with her more scholarly insights into ethnobiology and anthropology, Lisa brings an extraordinary diversity of perspectives to Woodsmoke.  She is contagious in her enthusiasm for her subject area and is forever keen to pass on her accumulated knowledge and skills.

In 2016, Lisa took up a lectureship position at the University of Cumbria, in Ambleside the Lake District, where she is teaching across undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in the department of Science, Natural Resources, and Outdoor Studies. The Ambleside campus of UoC is the only university campus set in the stunning scenery of a UK National Park. Lisa belongs to both a Strategic Research Group exploring Nature Connection, and is a member of a science-based thematic group investigating the emergent field of rewilding (or ‘wilding’) in association with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Lisa says: ‘Bushcraft is a skilled practice and an awareness that arises from relationships with particular terrains and ecologies, through time. While much of the human consciousness is drawn into an increasingly abstract global world, through the self awareness that arises from embodied engagement with nature, bushcraft practice seeks to amend the torn fabric of life, to re-knit a network of relations between people and their natural landscapes.’ 
 Below: Lisa conducting ethnographic field research in Utah USA, with son Finn
                                                  LISA FENTON: In the press
The Times: ‘Can  Gucci-wearing women beat Bear Grylls at bushcraft?’ – In response to the launch of Bear Grylls ‘The Island’, Anna Maxted visits female survival and bushcraft expert, Lisa Fenton, and writes about her experiences of surving in the Lake District

Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ (April, 2014): Listen again to PhD student Lisa Fenton talk to Jenni Murray about ‘Women and Surviving in the Wild’

The Independent: ‘Women take on Bear Grylls over sexist male-only Island

The Telegraph: ‘Does Your Child Know How to Make Fire?’, by Anna Maxted

Lisa Fenton’s published articles.