In the morning I felt so well rested and set off early(ish) with the aim of catching up. In Dunsford, over a milkshake in a lovely walled garden, I watched the clouds threatening Dartmoor. The theory of Dartmoor had been alluring, but seeing the height of the hills and the look of the weather I decided to skirt the edge of it. After a tea in Cheriton Cross it was a long way to Bow, and anywhere I could buy food.
It was as I was crossing a stream in a wood that I saw the grassy area covered in small yellow flowers. The sun was shining on the bank and it looked so inviting. My normal routine had been to do a bit of yoga first thing every morning but so far on the walk I wasn’t managing to. I spread out my big green poncho like a groundsheet and did some yoga in the sunshine then lay down for a little while. I felt fully restored.
I made it to Bow at eight thirty just as it was getting too dark to walk. I felt it had been absolutely as far as I could manage. Treating myself to a pub meal, sitting back in the chair and taking off my boots had to be done slowly, with exhaustion. I told myself it was the first week and it was OK to eat in a pub as a one off. My body needed the rest and I ate my chips by the fire. Afterward I sewed little bee badges out of felt to give people as gifts. I’d been told that pubs were usually fine with you pitching a tent in the back garden, but this turned out not to be the case.
“If you’d asked when you first came in we could have asked around but it’s too late now. We’d get in trouble with the council if we let someone camp.” they told me with concern and accusation.
They directed me to a campsite up the road. I thanked them and left, with no intention of going to the campsite. It was velvet black above and from the map it looked at least an hours walk up a winding single track lane with fast cars. I doubted I could walk that far, that I could get there alive or that the campsite would receive me at that time of night.
Earlier in the village I’d seen a school with an unlocked gate and a large tree-filled garden that I’d noted as my back-up plan. Keeping an eye out for dog walkers I quickly slipped through the gate. Pitching my tent in the back corner, I hoped I would be concealed until daylight. My heart was beating hard whenever someone went past or a car’s headlights swung near but nobody saw me and I climbed uneasily in and fell asleep.
Every night I have to get up to pee. It’s annoying but at least I get to check the weather and look at the stars. Peering nervously out of the tent I checked if the coast was clear. Contrary to horror films and my own imagination there is not going to be someone waiting to pounce on you, nor is there going to be a giant snake/spider/dog in the bushes to rush at you. I dashed out and crouched in a spot away from any streetlight that might filter through.
I woke several more times, my subconscious wishing to double check we were still safe. Each time I reassured it that yes, we were absolutely fine. Thank you for your input, AGAIN, but I would like to sleep now.
Finally I woke to my alarm at 5.30am stiff and thick headed to hear a few spots of rain on the tent. I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and threw all my things in my rucksack. Not early enough to avoid a dog walker (they seem to walk around the clock) but early enough to avoid being spotted by anyone who minded.