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.
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.