Scotland Survivor Academy

Bear Gryll’s Academy: Surviving Alone in the Wilds of Scotland

Bear Grylls in action.
Bear Grylls in action.

By Margaret Gaby

Have you ever wanted to know how to survive on your own in the wild with absolutely no contact with other humans? Does the thought of learning how to survive out in uncharted lands with no contact with civilization excite you? Then Bear Grylls Academy is for you.

Many people are acquainted with the popular television show, Man vs. Wild (Born Survivor, UK) that aired on the Discovery Channel until this past March. Well, Bear Grylls, the “Man” is starting a survival academy this November. The first session will be six days surviving in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.

Grylls says that his academy will be “The most challenging but empowering survival course on the planet”.

This inaugural course will take place from November 3rd to November 9th and has ten participants. The Bear Gryll’s team is very excited about this new venture. It will cost $4,858 not including flights/travel. However, all meals and accommodation are included in the price.

Participants will be thoroughly pushed to their limits surviving in one of the last untouched wildernesses (Sutherland, Scotland) in the United Kingdom. Among the skills they will learn is rappelling, climbing, how to make a fire in extreme conditions, how to build emergency shelters, how to navigate the harsh terrain by the light of day as well as at night. They will be taught how to hunt and trap along with survival knife skills.

The 6-day survival course will be instructed by a number of Man vs Wild/Born Survivor crew. Bear Grylls will  make an appearance once during this first course.

What are the Prerequisites?

In order to apply one must be able to perform some physical requirements. Applicants must be able to maintain a steady jog for 25 minutes without stopping, to exercise without stopping for 90 seconds mixing continuous press ups, sit ups and burpees. One must be able to trek for one hour in hiking boots while carrying a 20-pound daypack. Finally, one must be a competent swimmer.

If you do not meet these requirements you will not be able to keep up with the demand of the intense program. Bear Grylls asks that you please take these guidelines seriously and only apply if you are fit to do so.

What to Bring?

In order to be able to tough the great outdoors participants will need to have pack some specific items. While packing be sure to include 2 pairs of robust mountain boots or something similar with ankle support, trousers, base layer, mild and outer layers, a fleece, duvet (down) jacket, hat and balaclava.

Participants should bring gloves, water and windproof trousers and jacket, swimming suits, sneakers (trainers), sunglasses, casual clothes, a wash bag, a towel, any personal medication they may have, and a camera. To ensure a comfortable sleep (or as comfortable as you can get while camping) that one packs a four seasons sleeping bad, camp bed, head torch, 30 liter hiking backpack and a sleeping mat.

An elk grazes in the wilds of Scotland.

What do you learn?

On day one of the trip the ten lucky participants will learn the Priorities of Survival. They will be trained in the practical art tying of knots, rope usage and river crossing. They will then be trained in navigation, fire lighting, and ending with an inspirational campfire survival lecture.

On the second day you will learn how to safely climb and descend cliff faces using various techniques. The next task will be hunting for wild food. You will finish the day with learning the art of sourcing and purifying water which is very interesting.

The third day, and last day before you leave on your three-day expedition, you will learn remote and improvised first aid. This can be useful when you do not have access to proper medical care.

You’ll have fun building your very own emergency shelter, preparing some delicious wilderness food and completing a challenging night time navigation exercise. Then you’ll sleep in the shelter you built, so it better be good.

Building a fire on Day 3. Bear is very good at this.
Building a fire on Day 3. Bear is very good at this.

The fourth day you will eat your wild breakfast, then be trained in a river crossing exercise and practice techniques for crossing great ravines on the Tyrolleen line. The rest of the day you will prepare for your remote expedition where you will put all your skills to the test. During this exercise you may have an encounter with Bear Grylls himself.
If you successfully complete the challenging course you will be awarded the BG Survival Academy certificate and signature knives. You will also gain a magnitude of knowledge that you can use so you’ll never feel lost.

Upcoming Courses

In 2013 Bear will be offering courses in the United States and South Africa. These courses will run from March until October and are currently open for registration on the academy’s website. There are also shorter three-day courses available for a cheaper price.

Although, it may be expensive, this course provides invaluable skills and information that you can not get any other way. You will experience the great outdoors like never before.

Find out more about Bear’s courses at the Bear Gryll’s Academy website


Margaret Gaby is a former editorial assistant and an English major at the University of Massachusetts. She studied abroad in England in Spring 2011.


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