By Tim Lawrence

For the last year or so I have sleeping out in the woods on a regular basis,

on my own, with friends, with my kids.

No tents.

Just sleeping out under the stars,

except you can’t see the stars for the trees.


Sleeping out is sensory immersion,

my favourite spots are at the top of the steep banks-slopes of the Avon and Wye Valleys.

This month’s sleeping out has been to be visually enveloped,

infused, in a world of semi-translucent pale greens

of tender, overflowing, luminously vital new leaves:

beech, lime, hazel, oak and ash.


There have been moments of awe and wonder,

even to match the ‘wow’ of a ‘tropical’ rainforest….

“is there anywhere in the world with as much new life all at one time as this?”


The visual immersion has been amplified by the sound:

Of orchestras of birds at dawn and dusk, so many songs and symphonies

Of steady, persistent, beautiful rain falling hour on hour, so softly

Of gusts and gales rushing through the tree tops, hurrying through to the continent,

it hasn’t all been hazy lazy afternoons and balmy evenings for sure

and, yes, we do sleep out in the rain and storms …..

goretex bivvy bags are great.


There is something about sleeping out in the woods,

the going to sleep in, the waking up in,

something about being immersed in the trees and song and elements,

that is alluring to me.

The sensory stimulation is intense, yet,

so different from the over-stimulation of computers, pubs and citylife.

The feelings evoked are often ones of belonging,

a primal sense of being at home,

something I don’t often feel in a terraced house.

What I see and hear last thing at night and first thing in the morning

changes how I see and think about everything.

I wonder ….

where you find your moments of awe and wonder?

Where you feel at home, like you belong?

The answer for me,

is down by the river,

hidden by the trees.