March man swaps Fens for a new life in Swedish Lapland, the land of the midnight sun
PUBLISHED: 16:28 28 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:49 28 October 2010
AS a schoolboy, Kevin Warrington always knew he wanted to work in the great outdoors but he never imagined he would end up living in one of the last great wildernesses.
Earlier this year, he swapped what he once thought of as the wide open spaces of his native Fenland for ... Swedish Lapland, 150km inside the Arctic Circle.
In his first visit back to March since his move to the land of the midnight sun, he said: “I know I have made the right decision.
“We live without the modern conveniences people here take for granted but outside I have brown bears, wolves, moose and there are some fantastic birds.
“When I left for my trip back to the Fens it was the first day of snow and we had a fantastic display of the northern lights. What more could you want?”
Kevin, 40, is the son of Norman and Jean Warrington, of Waterside Gardens, March, and was educated at the town’s Hereward and Neale-Wade schools.
He says he has been involved in nature conservation from the age of 11 and while at school regularly cycled from March to Welney to help out at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
His first job was with the RSPB on the Ouse Washes Reserve at Manea.
He went on to work for the Wildfowl Trust at Peakirk and for the Nature Conservancy Council at Wood Walton Fen. Working for Natural England he managed a Wetlands site near Newmarket – complete with a small herd of Asian Water Buffaloes.
With survival expert Ray Mears as an inspiration, Kevin became increasingly interested in how people once lived and the skills they used to survive.
He said: “In 2006, I flew for the first time and went to Canada on a winter survival course, which included building a shelter to sleep in at a temperature of -22C without a sleeping bag.
“It wasn’t the most pleasant night I have had but at least I didn’t die.”
Kevin had caught the survival skills bug and back in this country started a company called Natural Lore.
He ran courses teaching people how to live in a forest, what they could eat and what they could use for medicines. He also gave demonstrations for organisations such as The National Trust.
The following year, he went back to Canada working with youngsters to re-engage them in their natural environment and teach them the skills of their forefathers, steering them away from the dangers of drug abuse.
Also in 2007 he bought his wood cabin in Swedish Lapland from a friend. It is in a village called Nattavaara, 50km outside of Gallivare, where he was to meet his girlfriend Teres.
He said: “In February, I decided to move to be with her. I had been thinking about the move and I just decided it was the right time.
“I am now learning Swedish because no-one speaks English but the people are fantastic and very friendly.
“When people can’t understand me I get by using hand signals and using pictures.
“It is like living in England 40 years ago when you needed your neighbours and your neighbours needed you. There is a very good community spirit.”
The couple have a small cabin in the garden of their home and Kevin hopes this can be used by tourists and he can make a success of teaching them primitive, survival and bushcraft skills.
With winter temperatures plunging to -52C, Kevin says the best way to keep warm is by wearing several layers of wool clothing.
He said: “It is amazing when there is 2cm of snow in this country everything stops, but we can have two-and-a-half metres and life goes on as normal.”
However, the downside of the summer weather, says Kevin, are the mosquito bites.
Kevin’s parents have been out to visit, the first time they had flown. He said: “They really loved seeing all the birds and animals.”
Obviously captivated by his new life, Kevin says he would not swap it for anything.
He said: “I always knew I wanted to work with nature but I could never have dreamed my life would turn out like this.”