Wisdom from Nature


ontact between man and animals and between man and the natural world breeds, perhaps - sometimes - wisdom." p.422; Bateson, G (1973)

I went walking, at the weekend, up Hoof Stones Height, to the south-west of Upper Gorple reservoir. On the way up, surrounded by the peat, heather, cotton grass, sleet and wind, I saw the remains of a fox. Only its skeleton was left. It left me wondering what its history was. How did it come to die there, on the remote moors? I forget, at times, that there are other species of animal apart from humans, which have lives and histories of their own. I am reminded, when outdoors, that the world is not human-centric, as our culture too often assumes. We are just a part of the overall ecosystem on Earth. Looking at the stars gives me a similar feeling: that I am an infinitesimally small part of the universe. I am almost an inconsequential part of that universe. Strangely, this gives me comfort. I am part of something so much larger than me.

The quote above, simply put, reflects my own feelings about the outdoors. Bateson does not specifically cite what wisdom we will gain. But, I feel, that it is left to each person to discover for themselves, as with my own experience of the fox skeleton and the stars. I am trying to learn to be open to new experiences and ways of being in the outdoors, as opposed to simply being looking at nature as one looks at a lion in a cage at a zoo. We are part of nature, not simply observers (Mabey, 2008).

On a side note, the route that I walked to Hoof Stones Height came from Christopher Goddard's brilliant book of hand-drawn maps and routes: The West Yorkshire Moors.


Bateson, Gregory (1973): Steps to an Ecology of Mind; Granada Publishing Ltd.

Goddard, Christopher (2013): The West Yorkshire Moors: a hand-drawn guide to walking and exploring the county's open access moorland; Jeremy Mill Publishing.

Mabey, Richard (2008): Nature Cure; Vintage.