“Champing? What on earth is that?”, I hear you ask. Champing is the combination of the words church and camping. This simple concept of camping in ancient churches is brought to you by the Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity that looks after historic churches at risk. There are churches in the South East and East Anglia offering champing in 2016.
We spent the weekend at All Saints Church in the tiny village of West Stourmouth, a little way outside Canterbury. The Church was beautiful, Saxon in origin with a small, but beautiful graveyard, the stones home to lichens and mosses, flowers bursting through and butterflies fluttering above.
In the church camp beds were provided for us, as well as chairs to relax on. The camp beds were not very comfortable for us, so on the second night we slept on a bed made up of blankets and cushions from the pews, which was much comfier. You might think that a church would be a slightly spooky place to sleep, but we found it very peaceful, it had a welcoming friendly feel. In the morning, we were woken gently by bird song and light streaming through the stained windows.
A short walk across the fields to East Stourmouth found us at The Rising Sun pub. Breakfast was provided here as part of our stay and we also visited on both evenings for dinner. On the first night we tried their Mexican Paella, a huge portion for two, spicy and delicious, while on the second night we went for he more usual pub grub fare of pie and mash and a burger. Breakfast was a lovely full English to set us up for the day.
We really enjoyed the walk through the church yard, then out across the field, barley growing on one side and oilseed rape on the other. At the edge of the field was an area of long grass, with beautiful pink flower spikes, which I could not identify. Fortunately, the 30dayswild facebook group came to my aid, and I now know it’s Sainfoin (onobrychis viciifolia). Along the field path lots of different flowers grew, lovely to see the wild peeking through.
Beyond the field we walked through orchards, where rabbits grazed and ran, their warren in between the rows of fruit trees. On the way back from the pub each evening we watched the sun set, pinks, reds, oranges and yellows streaked across the sky, a stunning end to the day. On our last morning, walking back from breakfast, we watched a Sparrowhawk chase a small bird over the field, who escaped into the oilseed rape. Awe inspiring to watch.
We enjoyed our stay in this beautiful place/ It was an interesting and quirky opportunity to spend time in a lovely old building.
In my next post, I’ll be talking about what we did while we were champing, it was a wild weekend!
Information about our stay:
If you would like to try Champing all the information can be found here: www.champing.co.uk The church we stayed in was All Saints in West Stourmouth, but there are lots more locations to try.
The pub we visited was The Rising Sun in East Stourmouth, http://www.therisingsunstourmouth.co.uk/ We recommend the Mexican paella, but only if you like things hot!
I did not receive any part of this break for free or at reduced price, and all opinions are my own, I just want to share the fun we have with other people!