RootStock is an annual gathering of an ad hoc and constantly changing community of more or less like-minded souls.
The event focuses on bushcraft skills: how to live and survive in harmony with the natural world. It also includes camping, and workshops in various disciplines led by professionals in their fields. Beyond that there are hot showers, compost toilets, a sauna, and plenty of room to wander alone in if that's your preference. The camp is a shared journey. We arrive and leave together; there are no part time options. Arrive to camp from 3pm on Saturday 24th July and we leave the site as we found it by 3pm on the following Saturday.
We camp in circles of approximately 25 people around a central fire pit. This is our family for the week and we cook and eat a shared evening meal around that central fire. We generally take care of our own breakfast and lunch or enter into ad hoc arrangements with others in our circle. There are no shops within walking distance but there are branches of ALDI and Tesco about seven miles away.
Ashlyn Wood is a piece of ancient woodland, enclosing a moated island, in rural Cambridgeshire. The camps are small; no more than one hundred and twenty-five people will attend, including crew.
Ashlyn Wood is an electricity-free zone, meaning no mains power or generator. Trees include oak, ash, hazel, elder, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn and mature elms.
Frequently asked questions
There is no map and there are no directions on the website. Where is Ashlyn Wood?
To avoid sightseers we only give out the map and directions after receiving your booking. This information will be given to you nearer the time of the event. If you need to book a train ticket then the nearest station is Royston.
I am coming alone and for the first time. Am I right to feel apprehensive?
You will find the other campers very friendly. Also, the events are set up in such a way as to promote inclusivity. We camp in circles, each around its own central fire where kettles are boiled and food cooked. We eat communally each evening and prepare the meals together in small working groups. There are also work groups for other tasks which need doing, such as chopping and barrowing wood. You will quickly make some friends.
Yes, really. No more than one hundred and twenty-five, including crew. However, this number does not include children under four years old.
You will be able to choose work to suit your ability and inclination and you will be part of a team of people. Jobs include: preparing the kitchen for the cooks, helping to prepare the evening meal, making sure the toilets are clean and have toilet paper in them, preparing social spaces, chopping and barrowing wood for the sauna and hot tub.
Yes, there are covered areas with fires.
No. There will be an occasional cafe in the woods, but there will be no concession stalls. There will be a campers' market on Wednesday afternoon at which we can buy, sell or barter with each other. There are no shops within walking distance of Ashlyn Wood.
Dogs, with the exception of assistance dogs (by prior arrangement), are not permitted on site.
There is neither mains power nor a generator on site. If you need to recharge your phone then you can use your car battery. Alternatively, bring a charger pack. These packs can hold multiple charges. However, you are encouraged to give your phone a rest.
Yes, there is water on tap and it's safe to drink.
I have special dietary needs.
We encourage people to make sure the shared evening meal is vegan as this means most people can eat it. If you have an aversion, intolerance or allergy to other ingredients, such as wheat or nuts, make sure the others in your circle are aware of this fact. Bring things like wheat-free pasta and insist that offending ingredients are left out or else organise a separate pot which does not include them.
You will not be the only person with special dietary requirements and you will find people sympathetic and accommodating.
I will be arriving late/I need to leave early. Is that OK?
Please try to arrange your life so that you can be there at the beginning and leave at the end. Think of it as catching an aeroplane. Each camp is a shared journey which we take together. You would hate having to leave early and it would be disruptive for your fellow campers. Going to the cinema is another analogy; if you arrive late you’ll miss the beginning and if you leave early you won’t know what happened in the end. At the very least, make sure you arrive in time for the first full meeting at 10am on Sunday. There will be no admission after that time.
How will I get from the railway station to the site?
Lifts are available, at no extra cost, until 6.45pm on Saturday and after the closing meeting on the final day. The closest station is Royston.
Can I have a weekend-only ticket?
No. It’s all or nothing.
Are day tickets available?
Can my friend/relative come and visit me?
No. If you need to rendezvous with friends or relatives then please arrange to do so off-site. Each event is a ‘closed’ camp. You can come and go as you please but no one else may come in.
I’ve never used a compost toilet. Do they smell?
No they don’t. And they are cleaned twice a day, the toilet paper replenished. Use them for defecating only – or at least, go there with that intention. And throw in a handful of sawdust when you’re done before closing the lid. If you just need to pee then men have the whole forest to find a suitable spot. As do women. However, if you would like a little more privacy when you pee then, for women only, there is the Ladies’ Pee Palace – strictly no defecation in the Pee Palace, please.
What is the sauna etiquette?
Bring a towel to sit on. Most people, but not all, will be naked; if you would prefer to wear trunks or a bathing costume then that’s fine. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
Are there any rules about smoking?
I’m glad you asked that. Anywhere directly under a tarpaulin or roof of any kind is ‘inside’ and smoking is not allowed. Otherwise, if you smoke please be mindful of those around you, especially around the fire. Check the wind direction and dispose of your butts in a responsible manner as they are not biodegradable.
Will I be kept awake by drunken revellers?
It is very unlikely. Alcohol is allowed on site but there is not much of a drinking culture and there is no bar. No loud noise is allowed after 10pm
What about drugs?
Don't forget your prescription drugs, but please leave any other drugs at home. You won’t need them. Drugs have never been part of the culture of Ashlyn Wood.
What about Coronavirus?
If we're allowed to run the camps we will. If we're not then we'll refund the cost of your ticket. In running running the camps we will act in accordance with the medical advice at the time and work with you to keep us all safe and well.