Upping Sticks – Finding Home

August 18, 2023

I thought I’d be here ‘til the day I died.

Anglezarke was my home, always had been, always would be. It’s the home of my parents, my mum’s parents, her mum’s parents and so on for at least seven generations.

I’ve wandered those meadows and moors since boyhood. My parents brought me here as a toddler and continued that bonding. Red River, Leadmine Valley, Cat’s Grave, Haddock Fold, The Quarry… all came alive in my childhood memory and carved their names into my psyche.

Adult me knew every corner from horizon to horizon. I knew where the Roe Deer were, when the Frogs would spawn, the locations of the Fox earths, when to expect the Swifts back. On my almost daily wanders in my place I knew if a branch had fallen, where the deer had slept that night and when the flowers would bloom. It was as if my very being was hardwired to Anglezarke. We shared so much. Perhaps I was made of Anglezarke.

This seemed normal to me as it was all I’d every known, this deep connection that thrummed through my senses, keeping me informed of the goings on of ‘my’ countryside. In reality though it wasn’t my countryside - I was its human. It claimed me. Anglezarke owned a big part of me.

This land supported me as I stepped onto my shamanic path, giving me guidance, support and solace as I learned how to connect deeply with the spirits of place and the nature with whom I inhabited Anglezarke. Here were my sacred, secret woods that Nicola and I practiced in. My Spirit Guide called me to Round Loaf, way out in the middle of the moors, a desolate wild place miles from anywhere or anyone.

A Winter Solstice move

When we moved away on Winter Solstice 2022 I looked forward to forming a new bond with Silverdale. However I thought I’d grieve the transition from an old familiar landscape that spoke to me. In reality that sadness never landed. The call of the new held me. The novelty of stepping out of our new front door and not being blasted by the roar of the M61 was welcomed.

The move away was necessary. We needed more room and I needed to be away from that constant grind of the motorway which was beginning to really mess with my head and my hearing. I’d always had a love for Silverdale so we embraced an opportunity when it presented itself and relocated to a lovely Edwardian house minutes from Morecambe Bay. This place really does have it all - coast, ancient woodlands, hidden meadows, craggy fells, wetlands and more nature reserves than I can keep a count of.

However despite the rampant beauty, the glut of biodiversity, I find myself adrift. Lost in a sea of beauty and enchantment. I’ve begun to mourn my old places and not yet found my regular haunts. So I have work to do. Having said this I don’t for a moment regret the move, in so many ways it’s the best thing we’ve done and I know I’ll find a kind of nurture here. However I’m also beginning to see the depth of the connection I have with Anglezarke and to know just how rare it is. I had become naive in my familiarity. I’d failed to recognise the enduring specialness of my link with the place.

Passing Strangers

And now I need to find a way to nurture a link to a new land, one that I thought I knew from my regular visits only to realise we were strangers to each other. Passing strangers, but strangers nonetheless. This brings to mind thoughts of belonging which is a topic I’ve discussed with friends recently. So many of our community feel a lack of belonging, an adriftness that cannot be easily shaken. Not a sadness as such, more a distant echo call that speaks of something deeper. An ancestral connection with place maybe. And now I am beginning to get a sense of that despite a growing, immersive love for this richly beautiful area.

Recently, during our online day-long retreat and our Tribe gathering, Nicola and I have been hearing tales of dislocation, even abandonment. The thought of belonging is one that pervades many conversations as we come to terms with our need for a place to be, whether that’s a community or a land. It’s a real issue and a new one for me. So many have been moved from their ancestral lands whether by accident or design that this lack of ‘belonging’ surely is a part of the modern plague of disconnection. It doesn’t seem to matter if we’ve moved across continents or counties, the leaving of our rooted landscape is perhaps behind a lot of our woes.

So, what are we to do? What am I to do? Put down my roots? Nicola and I are doing that with the community here and it’s quite something. Being accepted and welcomed into the village is heartening but I find I need more. For me to belong I need something else that even a close knit community cannot deliver. This morning as I roam around the wood pastures and gaze over the bird strewn mudflats I think I’ve found what I need.

Ivy and Oak

Putting down my roots is absolutely a part of the process but I need the land to claim me. I need to feel this landscape wrap itself around me like Ivy around an old Oak. I need to be cloaked in Silverdale, to wear the limestone boned fells and to let the waters of the Bay seep into my veins. This is a process I’ve never had to think about as Anglezarke was a part of me before I was even born. It ran in the blood of my ancestors from times long ago and we were crafted together as a fusion of nature.

It’s now time to do the work, walk the rituals, call in the spirit of the place, become an indweller and a frequent roamer. One day, surely the place will reach out with hoary tendrils and return my endeavours and entreaties so that we may dance the dance of homecoming. Maybe I will never have the depth of belonging that I have with Anglezarke, not in this lifetime, but I can hope to have a relationship beyond the current dislocation.

I have a plan. This will take time, but I’m coming home to Silverdale. I’m finding home, here, in this woody, muddy, craggy country, knowing that one day it will claim me. I just have to do the work. I need to be out here, creating footprints, catching photos, sharing the stories and weaving my life into the land.

I’m documenting my journey home within my Earthlight project as it feels important to share my process. If you’d like to come along for the adventure keep an eye on Earthlight here.

Maybe you too would like to belong that bit more to your place. Perhaps we can find our way home together.

A version of this article was previously published in Earthlight.

About the Author


Jason has been a visual storyteller all of his life and follows an animistic, shamanic path from his ancestral lands of Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors.
Formerly a professional photographer and film maker he now uses his art to help others fall in love with the land that little bit more.

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  1. I understand that feeling of disconnection, it takes time and space and wanderings and stopping at sitspots and letting your bones sink into fallen trees and your eyes take images of places before your camera and your heart to absorb and absorb and absorb all that this new landing has to give to you, and it will. I remember my first visit to Brock Bottoms when we moved here, strange and unexplored and now it feels like my favourite old coat that fits around me, nurtures my soul and embraces me with all that it is.

    1. Thank you Anne. I take solace in your words here knowing that you have truly found home in your landscape. In my mind you and Brock Bottoms are synonymous in so many ways!

  2. Love this! Thank you for sharing. There will always be that special place that we call home , especially if we have been so connected through birth and roots . But our Spirit of Place also resides too, where we are here and now and we can continue to release our tendrils as they reach out and merge in new and wonderful places seen and unseen in our Spirit of Place where ever we are.

  3. The new land has called you for a reason I think. I hope it will tell you why. An uprooted tree will always suffer in the beginning.
    I have no past of roots or belonging. I am settled now for the first time in a town but my soul wants to be near woods and rivers. But I am alone and always have been in many ways so I can't relocate from a security. It isn't what I want but it is better than being alone and feeling forgotten. You are blessed that you have roots with your loved one ' roots aren't always nature, I feel. Go well and thank you for your kind sharings.

    1. Hi, I completely get what you said, about your soul wanting to be near woods and rivers and I believe we can get called to new places, away from our roots. The reasons why, are not always obvious to us at the time.
      I moved previously, the reasons I moved dissolved, but it was the place I felt most at home, above that of my birth country. I was immersed deep in the countryside and loved it.
      Personal extended family reasons have pulled me back to my birthplace, but suprisingly, I am not as happy here, despite my very long ancestral long lineage here. It feels like my soul had been anchored in my new place,; and despite only three years there, it felt like home in a way no where else ever had.
      Life gives us difficult choices. I hope you find happiness eventually.

  4. I think of this dislocation and yearning for place whenever I hear Neil Diamond singing ‘I am I said.’ It’s a very powerful feeling. Wishing you well.

  5. I know exactly how you are feeling. For many years I have spent holidays with some friends who have a lodge on a lovely site in Beetham where we stay. I feel such a really strong connection when I am walking in the ancient woodland where the yew trees grow between the limestone boulders and their roots all covered in moss and lichen with a little stream which was recently uncovered under the limestone boulders. I was there a few weeks ago and I just knew it was my home and where I belonged with these beautiful beings and felt so held!

    1. Ah yes Mary, Beetham is so beautiful. We visited the Fairy Steps a short while ago and I always enjoy the Snowdrops in the woods there. Thank you for your comment here.

  6. It's interesting for me to read your feelings about your homeland. I have only been home sick once in 47 years of life. When I have pondered on this, especially when talking to my husband who has been very homesick in his life, I think its because I feel like I carry the essence of my home, my family within me and wherever I am they are too. The closest thing I have to a "Home" is the bond I have with my husband which has been forged through some awful times and some triumphant ones.
    As long as we are side by side any physical time or place in times passed kind of lives with us in the present.

    1. Thank you for this Tarcy. I’m fortunate to have Nicola by my side and our new home is the most beautiful safe sanctuary for us. The land and I will grow together, I can see that as I wander out.

  7. Thank you for sharing Jason and for eloquently expressing your aching for the primal urge of belonging. Remember you are in transition, which is a Sacred 'place' in itself. Embrace that as you gently tend to your emerging roots of place 🙏

    1. Thank you for your insightful words here Rob, yes you are right. This too is a sacred place and needs to be honoured and respected.

  8. I can understand your feelings but remember the whole planet is your home. Go and dig a shallow bowl in the earth in your new home and put your feet in it. Feel it . Again and again. Tell it how much you love it and will care for it just as you cared for your birth place.
    You lived in the heart of your place on earth, now you have moved to another perfect place- are they your lungs ?????
    Looking forward to the new. Looking backwards will replenish the feeling of loss. And thats ok for a while but is it making you feel happy, or content.
    Just as a mother has to let her children fly away, so you are the child that has flown away to new pastures.
    Blessed be.

  9. Such a heart warming read Jason, may you discover the reason why Spirit needs you to be here why you have with Nicola been guided for such a growth experience. Maybe Anglezarke was becoming a safe haven, your paradise where you could just sit back enjoy nature and help others with your wisdom and experience that you have gained. Maybe there is greater things for you to come and that could have never happened at Anglezarke. There is you the teacher the guide and then there is you Jason the boy the man who needs to spread his wings and go with the flow.

    1. Thank you for this insight Roderick. I hadn’t thought of that. There are lots of reasons for our move and I know it was the right thing to do. But you give me pause for thought here. So many of our actions appear to be of our own doing but when we explore the bigger picture we can so often see direction being given. I will fly here pal. Thanks again.

  10. Hi Jason
    I have been following your work for a few years now so it came as such a surprise to hear that you both had up sticks and relocated to a new place. its something i couldn't get my head around, considering your long and deep connection to Anglezarke and the brave move to find home in a totally new landscape, i admire you. yes i understand you may have your personal reasons but what a wrench. I can empathise with your difficulty in anchoring roots… it will never be the same and may take time. We are only nature after all.
    Considering the place Anglezarke: it sounds mysterious and ancient and Silverdale: a totally different concept of fluctuating water and light. Paradoxically different, yet the same.
    I wish you all the very best

    1. Thank you Perri. Nicola and I had many reasons to move and this new land has always spoken to me, ever since I could drive here. So it seemed a natural transition. The change is welcome, I’m feeling brighter and more myself. Missing my old haunts is a grief that needs to be witnessed and seen and honoured. Thank you for your kind wishes.

  11. Finding Roots
    It seems the poignancy of disconnection affects all of us interconnected edge-dwellers. Tendrils across space and time. With land, with ancestors, with each other, and with change. Some were disconnected by persecution, enclosures, industrial revolution, technology, motorways, flightpaths, high speed, social media FOMO. Our poor craving brains struggle to cope. Until our bone-memory regrows. Or finds hidden messages of evolution.
    My own ancestors were rooted on the edge of similar Lancashire moors, eventually moving due to artificial boundaries, industrial revolution, and Cold War. So after travelling the world I end up on the edge of Dartmoor somehow. And it has a strange feeling of bone-memory home on the edge of moors again. Where people have left connections with the land over 100,000 years. The land changes and people change leaving an inner connection with intimate places of rock, root, trunk, and stream. In our cells and in our bones. Change is constant, inner connection remains constant. Love and loss together.
    So I think your honest shared quest, Jason, is all of our quests.
    Thank you for sharing. Nature blessings.

    1. Thank you for this Peter. You speak with great insight and I shall carry your words with me on my journey. Blessings to you.

  12. What an emotional journey you are on Jason, but be secure in the knowledge that you know what deep rooted ancestral belonging feels like. So many of us are stranded in the wilderness not knowing or just not recognising the call of the world around us as it beckons us to join with it in peaceful harmony. Take strength from the support of a partner and others who truly understand the souls searchings for connections. They will come.

    1. Thank you Susan. Yes, I am fortunate to be surrounded by like minded souls and have a lovely partner who walks the paths with me. I’m calling those connections in daily.

  13. This is so wonderful Jason you will soon find your connection with the land you just need to be patient and have hope it all looks so beautiful there your so lucky to have all that at your doorstep and like you say you need to put the work in to get the results.

  14. Dear Jason. I hope this is appropriate to post but I am strongly drawn to commenting on the words/sentiments used; only the ones that are shouting at me. The first that lovely country word 'hefted' as used in your introductory email. I saw a great pay about the effects of this on those wedded to the land and it struck deep. What I found when looking it up is that Hefting is a traditional way of managing animals on large areas of communal grazing, often on common land. To establish a heft the animals, usually sheep but sometimes cows or ponies, have to be kept in place by constant shepherding as there are no physical boundaries. My thoughts are that you have outlived the requirement for the safety of those boundaries within which Angelzarke hosted your emergence. The second is your your title of upping sticks – finding a new home. It found you, it is in the process of claiming you. The overwhelming feeling for me is that there is a grace and a love for you in this new place that does not require the hard work you suggest is required; this is not your sole responsibility; acceptance of what is offered is. I cannot help but feel the need to express the strength of purpose and direction that I feel bursting through the energy of your new place. One without boundaries, the one that has claimed you as its own. You are home.

  15. Jason, I so understand your disconnect. In 1977 I went unwillingly with my ex husband to California. My sadness and disconnect from everything I had known was so deep. I had been living on the edge of the New Forest for most of my life and wandered its woods and heathers in my teenage years finding solace there. Now that I have returned after 42 years of being away I can reflect and feel compassion for that disconnected soul. Blessings to you Jason in your search for connection in your new landing spot.

  16. Dear Jason
    I have loved reading your heartfelt words about relocation and belonging. I am so glad that you are away from the M61. It is terrible to live in that toxic noise and air of motorways. But the country around Morecombe is beautiful, a wonderful choice to make your new home. Since I was a child I had never lived more than 6 years in one place until I met my husband 16 years ago. But I was brought up in the wilds of nature at different places. When later in life I wondered where I belonged I realised it was in nature. I had been seeped in nature all my young years and the joy and belonging has never left me and rather has helped to keep me sane during the times when I couldn't be there. I love your writings about nature so inspiring and a joy to hear what you share of nature and your feelings and journey. I know you will find your way and soon be claimed by that beautiful place. Thank you with all my heart ❤️ 💙 💜

  17. A resonance in all you say. My 'home' is beside the Atlantic ocean in far West Cornwall. I left and returned many times due to work and travel luring me to various UK counties and distant shores, and each time I returned, I was amazed by the familiarity of 'home'. the wind, the surf, the land, the people,lanes and roads. I had often foud myself yearning for a view of the sea. the familiar scent of the ocean. It was as if all that I had seen, experienced was some far off dream when I was 'home'. When I eventually married and settled back in Cornwall (so I thought) only for my husbands work to take us to Somerset. Lovely, but not home.
    We returned to Cornwall 16 years ago, along the Devon Cornwall border and there I discovered Dartmoor. Strange but it is a place that feels more like home than home does. there is a smell of the moor. A feeling. A harsh, granite welcome back. Stone circles that beckon. Remains of small, granite dwellings from probably a thousand plus years ago. I sit in their shelter, eat my fayre and leave a little for the ancestors..I have no idea why I feel this connection. However, if I need its energy, its power, its tranquility, then after a walk in areas well away from people, I feel revived.
    Yes home is where the heart is, but we can take the heart to the home. Be it a tranquil valley, a breathing ocean or a granite Tor.
    Enjoy the journey as your heart meets the new home and incorporates it into the old.

  18. It's fascinating hearing about your journey, Jason. I don't think many of us have such a deep, long-standing connection to place as you do. It must feel strange to leave it – dislocating. But you have only left it physically – you still belong to that land. I totally get about the motorway noise. I don't live too far from Manchester Airport and it all seems very loud now, especially after the quiet of the pandemic.

  19. Thank you for sharing this Jason, it has made me think.
    I was born in Oxfordshire.
    2 years ago Colin my husband passed away at the age of 55.
    Before Colin passed, he said to me to carry on renting or buy a little house.
    We have lived in this house just outside a village called Wootton by Woodstock for 14 years. So many happy and sad memories here.
    I have just decided to move to Devon to be nearer to my sister Sue.
    I am lucky to have found a perfect house for me and my 2 dogs.
    But deep down I am scared.
    I know the village I am moving to so it’s not completely new, but likewise I love it in Oxfordshire.
    Truly I am grateful and although scared, am looking forward to a new move.
    I know Colin would have lived the house, and I am looking forward to being nearer to my sister.
    I just hope I feel at home there.
    Thank you again for sharing your experience.
    Anglezarke will always be with you, but you now have a beautiful place to also call home.
    You, Nicola & Way of the Buzzard have helped me through this time.
    Best wishes
    Rose xxx

  20. We moved up to beautiful Darwen just over a year ago from Bolton. I desperately need to go and wander the beautiful hills and woods but we're mostly stuck indoors as my daughter has additional needs and struggles to leave the house. Hopefully when she's back in school I'll be out there finding my feet too. Silverdale is so lovely too, I hope you feel at home there soon xx

  21. As a military child, I have never known a sense of home. Every 3 years my life was uprooted as we moved home and often country. It was not until my eldest son researched our family tree that I began to find any sense of belonging. Shropshire and Devon are two places with historic family ties.

    I remember feeling very keenly a sense of “I want to go home” when I had my spiritual awakening, but I had no idea where “home” was.

    I left everything behind and went to live on a boat. All that I knew is that I needed to be close to nature, immersed in her. I find myself at this moment having come back to dry land and I am having enormous difficulty “fitting in”. I find I no longer align with the goals and aspirations of the people that surround me and I long for a greater connection with nature. My quest is far from over …..

  22. Hi Jason, thank you for your words. I believe we absolutely are the places we were born and brought up, literally, because every cell of our body, our very DNA, contains elemental building blocks – proteins, carbon – from our mother's blood then from their milk then from food from the land we live in and on. And the ancestral and spiritual facets that go along with those physical, biological ones. We are the land's own and I do relate to this feeling of disconnect, of a wrench, even as we make moves we know are right for us. Where I was born and brought up sadly doesn't have this resonance due to other things that were necessary for me on my current life's path, and I have a sadness about that, but Dartmoor, very near to my place of birth, always held a massive draw. And certainly, when I was old enough to begin the work, starting with researching my line, it was Dartmoor, on my maternal side, where my ancestors lay. I live a little further from there now but it is always in my heart, soul, and bones and I feel the call often. I have come to a place where I know it is the first place of my story, and yet I also feel a contentment and a bond with where I am living now. All good wishes to you, Emma.

  23. You have articulated what I have been feeling for years and never realised. Being torn (its the only word that comes to mind) from the landscape of my birth at six months old, I have always felt I was an outsider and that something was missing from me/my life. Over the past decade that feeling has developed in to a deep, deep longing to come home. I am now searching for that place.

  24. This really resonates with me. I had lived at the foot of the Peninnes from birth as did most of my ancestors.. those hills wrapped around my shoulders made me feel safe my whole life but latterly as the children spread their wings and moved away to Vancouver and the Middle East I started to feel tethered. I finally made the move to Spain. Chose a place with Mountains around my shoulders and the sea a short drive away. I feel the same in that the landscape hasnt claimed me as its own yet but it will. I will be laid to rest here and it may take that long for it to happen but i know it will. This is now my home.

  25. I was given this advice when I moved home. If you haven't settled in three years, you won't. Sure enough almost 3 years to the day I felt a coming home. Give it time.

  26. I loved reading about your recent transition from a place of knowing, deeply felt within your bones and blood. To a place that offers change, challenge and yet a sense of this will be ok.
    I spend time with nature, twice a day walking our dog Floki in a limited landscape that I have fond memories of being much vaster, much wilder. There is a sadness in my heart when developers tear through the landscape up rooting trees and devastating the lives and homes of creatures that are not human. Yet what is manifesting for me is a poetical voice linking my gratitude to the space I am in and a connectivity to the elements that goes beyond the place.
    This conversation, these ideas and words that surface include what my senses are experiencing and in this I find joy and connection.
    Each visit from from another living creature fills me with belonging.
    Each time I stand quietly under the boughs of a tree bring me home.
    Here I have consciously created a sense of belonging which I carry within my heart.

  27. I can understand the longing for old places which are familiar. Developing new relationships from individuals in the area as well as the land and sea.
    Possibly spending time in and on the land may bring that connection you are seeking.
    Best wishes to you Jason

  28. I really truly get that feeling of belonging deeply in your bones. The actuality of being grown from the land. That land for me is where my ancestors farmed for as long as records go back, in both Caldbeck and Bewcastle, of North Cumbria. I’ve always lived in north Cumbria. It’s in my bones. I love it with a passion that I feel some may not understand. It was lovely to read your words and fine someone who does.

  29. This touched my heart, especially as we are also attempting to relocate from Knutsford .. where my maternal line reaches back 5 plus generations,and I have lived for 20 + years now to the A&S area, just as soon as we can sell the house,.. so I'm following your journey with interest and honoring and witnessing your grief over leaving your beloved Anglezark for a new adventure. Francis Weller has done some wonderful work around Grief in general , especially disenfranchised grief , which I suspect moving location may be a form of in some respects , his book is called ' The Wild Edge of Sorrow ' , if you havn't come across it before. I know you drink the beautiful waters of the Well , I'm wondering if immersing in the waters of Morcambe bay in some Wild swimming where possible may help if you are a swimmer, it's just a thought – I know we will all have to find our own ' way's in ' . Thanks for sharing .

  30. I’ve found your reflections on this subject fascinating and timely, echoing my own questions about place, space and belonging. I’m beginning to wonder if this is a consequence of the narrowing of our perception of ‘home’ though each generation since we set down roots to farm the land after being nomadic hunter gatherers? Once, the land, wherever, was home, then that field narrowed (literally) and we became bounded by the comfort of familiarity with increasingly smaller spaces, embedding our disconnect from the wider lands and its inhabitants until it’s wonders and offerings leave us mystified and even fearful?
    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts as you explore your new home. Many thanks for sharing these experiences.

  31. This is so profound and meaningful Jason. I live in Manchester (and I love the city) but it is not my spiritual home. That is Cornwall. I do not know much about my family history (being adopted as a baby) but I recently visited Ireland and met a cousin found through DNA tests and I find myself in a maelstrom of emotions and feelings – not bad ones just strong ones. I have found a sense of belonging in the Way of the Buzzard but I have much work to do to come to my terms with how I relate to the natural world. Thank you for your insight.

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