We stopped for a break every hour and each time I really needed it. We relished the chance to talk about radical social change. We were aiming for the national herb center but got there just after it closed. We still had some walk in us so we walked on in the sunshine keeping an eye out for somewhere to pitch our tents. Walking down into the lovely village of Ratley the hills surround it in a little valley and there are old stone and timber buildings. We hadn’t passed anywhere hidden to camp but there was the graveyard and a field next to the churchyard that we thought might be possible.
Feeling nervous and trying not to look it, I rang the reverend’s number on the church board. I explained that we were two women walking and hoping to find somewhere safe to pitch our tent for the night.
“Well…I don’t think it would work to use the graveyard, it’s Sunday tomorrow you see and people might arrive at graves and not be expecting a tent. There is a field out the back of the church though. I’m not in the village, I cover several churches you see, but there is a church warden. It would be best to speak with them, see what they advise.”
“Wonderful, thank you, I will.” with my best big smile in my voice. “What’s they’re number?”
“They live just next door to the church actually, just knock on the door and tell them you’ve spoken to me.”
We opened the gate into the manicured garden of the church warden and knocked on the door. After a few minutes of conversation they said,
“You could put your tent up in the garden if you like?”
We most definitely would like, it sounded fantastic. Looking at the immaculate lawn I had a bit of a panic – I have to pee in the night every night and the image of me squatting didn’t look a pretty picture. Shortly after they seemed to have the same image and suggested that we use their annex loo, they would give us a key.
So incredibly on our first night ‘roughing it’ we were actually to have access to a toilet, shower, dry space to change in and a soft flat lawn to camp on.
We decided to walk a little further on the next morning before turning back so that we could visit the site of the Battle of Edgehill, the first pitched battle of the civil war in 1642. Looking out from the escarpment now all you can see are beautiful trees and fields below, with an information board. Both King Charles’s and parliament’s armies were not very prepared or experienced. As the men were not very keen to die a lot of the them ran away or went off looting.