The Survival Series: Become the next Captain Fantastic at Kippure Estate

Kippure Estate in Co. Wicklow has a rich history that dates back to the 1700s. Originally owned by the Moore family of Kilbride, it was extended into a hunting lodge, along with a farm and Victorian walled garden.

The estate was destroyed by fire in the early 1900s but revamped in the 70s. On the grounds, there are ruins of old huts, standing stones and other fascinating things that hint at the world that once was.

From abseiling down walls to rock climbing, archery and survival skills, these days there many things that can be done in Kippure Estate (and they even do weddings with accommodation on site!).

A handful of press, myself included, were treated to a special day out in association with Captain Fantastic, a new American drama movie with a focus on life in the wild. Here’s a quick summary:

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife and their six children live in the wilderness of Washington where they’re cut off from society. They raise their kids in an eco-sustainable environment, educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and guiding them without technology – this in turn teaches them how to co-exist with nature.

If you’re interested in all the different aspects of survivalism and want to learn from the pros, then Kippure Estate is where you need to go.

The 240-acre private estate borders the River Liffey and the Wicklow Mountains National Park and is only 45 minutes from Dublin City, 20 minutes from the M50 and less than an hour from Dublin airport.

So what had our trip to do with food I hear you asking? Well apart from catering to my slight zombie obsession, we also got to learn how to cook in the wild, start fires on our own and distil our own water. Sound cool? It was!

We got an edited version of their Bushcraft Survival Weekend that incorporated elements of the Captain Fantastic movie (clever PR marketing for sure).

Our instructors for the day were Ciaran and Mark, former army men who were tasked to whip us into woodland survival shape. To kick things off, we started with climbing and abseiling, something that I happily admired from a distance.


Surviving in the woods requires several things, among them being fire, food, shelter and water, and what we got was a great practical experience with a wilderness survival skills course.

After climbing to our heart’s content – well, I didn’t because of the whole “I’m terrified of heights” thing – we wandered to a clearing where Mark was waiting to teach us all about water collection and purification. Using the simplest of methods, we managed to make a bottle of disgustingly brown water be pure! The apocalypse had better watch out for me.

Key things you need: a plastic bottle of water, moss, rocks/sand and charcoal. Cut the bottom off and turn the bottle upside down. Then layer it up with moss, sand, charcoal and more moss, as close to the top as possible. All of these ingredients slowly purify the water.

It doesn’t matter how dirty the water is, but you do have to be careful where you source it. So if you see flies, that’s a bad sign and a sign of contamination. Streams are usually pretty good, and you can even source from puddles as long as they’re fly-free! For complete safety purposes, though, you should also boil the water after it’s filtrated.


Did you know that you can survive approximately 21 days without food but just 3 days without water? It’s really important to think about the location of your shelter!

To say I was nerding out on all of this was an understatement. I was in my element. Soon it was onto fire making using a fire starter, and our surrounding kindling. Using birch and twigs that grew in size so we could easily put more and more onto the fire.


BY THE WAY, if you’re stuck in the wild and have just a fire starter, tampons, and Vaseline, you’re already in good shape to make a fire (soak the tampon in Vaseline and you have something that will light up pronto). You learn something new every day, eh?!

While we didn’t get onto foraging, we still got to cook on our open fire. “Getting back to cooking like back in the day!” Ciaran said.

cooking-on-an-open-fire-food with the Captain Fantastic experience

After our homemade feast, where I possibly overdosed on marshmallows, it was on to building the outdoor shelter of our dreams. Using a basic frame and piles of branches, our shelter was soon as snug as anything. Cheaper than the rent in Dublin!


Finally, it was onto our last survival aspect which was, skinning animals, a wild rabbit to be precise. So that’s your warning in advance for the next image (though to be fair, I chose the least gory one).


With the basic skills under my belt, I came away from the day out wanting to spend more time there. I had no phone network, there were no cars to be heard and I felt pretty tucked away from society. We had similar excursions to places like Kippure when I was in school, but this was like the grown-up version.


I’d highly recommend checking out Kippure Estate as an ideal starting point for those who wish to try their hand at something different. Not only that but I think it would be great craic for a group of mates to head down to.

The survival aspect might be a bit hardcore if you’re not interested in it but as mentioned they have plenty of other things to do and cater to different packages. You can either join up as an individual, as a small group of friends or you can get a larger group of friends together to have a course run just for you.

For more information about Kippure Estate and pricing, you can check out their website here. Captain Fantastic hits Irish cinemas on September 9th.

You can watch the trailer below:

Many thanks to Roisin Furlong and Kippure Estate for a great day out.

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