Debris shelter in a coniferous woodland 4

We’ve built plenty of debris shelters in the past at our ancient woodland camp in Kent, generally using either leaf litter or bracken as thatching, I’ve written about it previously here and here.  Well, on our fantastic trip to the Isle of Arran with Arran Bushcraft & Survival, we had the opportunity to build a debris shelter in a conifer plantation.

On the rare occasions I’ve had the chance to build a debris shelter in a coniferous wood before, the woodland hadn’t been particularly well managed, and lots of trees were laying down; collecting material to build and roof the shelter was pretty straightforward.  However, on Arran the woodland seemed to be better managed and consequently we weren’t able to find any ‘debris’ to make a shelter from!  This meant that we had to search out and cut down standing dead poles and use them, so not really picking stuff up off the ground.

We decided to make a 1 person debris shelter between us and started off the same as usual, with 2 ‘y’ shaped sticks and a long central ridge pole.  These 3 pieces are the ones that take the weight and so you need to make sure that they are robust and will take it, even more so with this shelter because of the thickness of the poles we used.  We also hammered a sturdy peg into the ground to stop the ridge pole moving.

From there we cut poles to length and laid them against the ridge pole.

Debris shelter - cutting the polesOne effect of cutting the poles was that we didn’t have any gaps between them for debris to fall through.

Debris shelter - no gaps!

Once we had finished the poles we looked around for material to cover the shelter with.  We couldn’t find anything!  So we decided to cut ‘turfs’ and use them instead.

Debris shelter - adding the coveringAnd just to finish it off, we threw a few needles and twigs over to make it blend in.

The finished debris shelter

The whole thing took 4 people about 2 1/2 hours to make, and we were kitted out with a bow saw, axes and a shovel.  Will it stand the test of time? We’ll let you know when we go back!


The shelter is standing and in remarkably good shape 2 years after it was built.  And quite wonderfully, one of the willow forked sticks we used has taken root and started to grow!

debris shelter in a coniferous woodland

About Gary

Lead Instructor at Jack Raven Bushcraft, teaching bushcraft, wilderness and survival skills to groups and individuals.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 thoughts on “Debris shelter in a coniferous woodland