Hempshaw Hideaway

June 9, 2016

Shall we, shan’t we? Shall we, shan’t we? The repetitive chorus of questioning churning around in our minds during the day finally settled. We stuffed out rucksacks with bedding and warm clothes and headed off to Anglezarke Moors looking for our sleep spot for the night.

Our endeavors took us to Higher Hempshaws, now a tumbled down ruin, empty windows and gable ends, staring out across the escaping expanse. A lawn under the shade of a sycamore beckoned and we stretched ourselves out in front of the setting sun. Bags for pillows, tufts of grass for hip rests, we wrapped ourselves in our bivvy bags and hunkered down.


It was then that the magic happened, the performance began. Such an unfamiliar site as two humans calling the moors home for the night brought a cast of birds to begin their show. Backwards and forwards, across and down flew black-headed gulls. Stone chats clung to grass tips and sang their strange song. Two herons flew close and landed in the tree above us, their ancient gait causing us to skip a breath; the last of the fly bys until morning.

The night, as to be expected was eventful. Ancestor trees crouched on the horizon, silhouetted against the star flung sky. The deceptively bumpy ground dug into crevasses and demanded restlessness, keeping us half in this world and half in the next. Rich dreams of guinea pigs, media production and complex veterinary procedures filled my mind, until the point of awakening two words of sense swirled from my unconscious to my waking mind: Just be. Just be.

We lay kissed by the early morning sunrise as he showed his face once more. Our entourage of birds doing their morning visitation, only this time with the added spectacle of buzzard flying just 6 feet above my head. Then yellow wagtail perched on our feet, first mine and then Jason’s, as we poised as pretend vegetation in our bivvy bags, affirming that we were welcome at this Hempshaw hideaway and that we could return. Return sometime soon to this oasis of ancestral theatre out in the moors.


Have a go

Some of our deepest nature connection happens when we camp out in the wilds, sleeping directly under the sky. If you fancy giving it a go there will be the opportunity at our next retreat in the Yorkshire Dales, Craft & Creativity: Inside the Mind of our Ancestors on Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June, and on our Finding Freedom through Rewilding retreat on the 12th to the 14th August. Please follow the links for more details.

About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Wonderful way of getting in touch with nature and Mother Earth which with the increased stress of our day to day lives is so necessary to get back into a balanced state of mind, body and soul

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