6 August 2016

why you need to go to swanage now

Travel Diaries - 5 days in Swanage

Everyone should try camping at least once in their lifetime! Alright not the most obvious start to a post about Swanage, but keep with me. A tent though was our accommodation for this little adventure. What's not to like about sleeping with nature, feeling cold at night. Needing a pee at 3 in the morning! Having to wash up in the open air, putting a tent up in the wind and rain! And then taking it down again, in the wind and rain, I could go on. 

I took M and K down to sunny Swanage in Dorset, for an adventure and to see if they enjoyed camping. Answer; YES they most certainly did enjoy. Luckily it actually was sunny, most of the time, and warm too! 

If you've been following my Instagram feed you'll have seen some of the photos from the adventures we had. So here to add a bit of weight to those pictures here is why you should try camping and why you need to go to Swanage now.

steam trains
The only way to travel to the seaside - Swanage Railway
I've mentioned Swanage before in an old post called 1040 to Corfe Castle, in that article we talked about the railway, and once again on this trip the railway featured heavily, especially transporting us from the campsite to the seaside. The fact that K loves trains helped. We were staying at the rather good Woodyhyde campsite near Harmans Cross station. The campsite has three large fields, that allowed for plenty of space and happy camping. It's child friendly making for a safe and respectful environment, with warm showers. A bonus. So with a steam railway station a short walk away we ditched the car and took the wonderful locomotives the railway run the few miles into Swanage central. 

Harman's Cross Signal Box - Swanage Railway
Harmans Cross
Harman's Cross Station - Swanage Railway
What's not to like but taking a steam train to the sea? It's the romantic way to travel, the only way to travel, isn't it? Let's just say we weren't the only ones taking the journey. Top tip: If you're staying at Woodyhyde campsite then you also get a discount on your train ticket

The seaside town of Swanage is in a large cove, and also marks the start of the Jurassic coastline of the South coast of England. White cliffs are to the left as you look out to sea, the Isle of Wight directly ahead in the distance and the pier to the right. It's has a sandy beach, and much in the old seaside tradition has some arcades and adventure parks along the seafront. Nothing though which is to overpowering. It has a lovely olde world feel to it, smart little shops can be found down small alleyways, and you will find plenty of places for a coffee or ice cream. A great way to get a view of the town and the surrounding area is to climb to the top of the park (on the pier side) and you'll be greeted by a rather large drop towards the sea on one side, so be careful, and a view back across to Swanage the on the other. Most of our time was spent in Swanage; on the beach, exploring the pier and town. We never got bored.  

Looking towards Swanage
Corfe Castle
On the only rainy day of our visit, we decided, before it started raining to walk to Corfe Castle. It was only a mile or so away. Well that's if you know how to get there! We got lost, went into a field we shouldn't have. Sorry farmer! Clambered over a tree and a stream, and then had to head back in the direction we had just come, eventually finding the path! Corfe Castle is a great way to spend a few hours. The National Trust owned castle is a must and the village itself is quaint and lively with tourists, even in the rain. Lets just say we enjoyed it, but were glad to get out of the rain! 

national trust
Looking Towards Corfe Castle
A visit to Swanage in the summer months means you'll be able to enjoy one of its many festivals. There's a Jazz Festival, Folk Festival, and when we were there a Pirate Festival. The town is full of pirates during the three days its held. Shop keepers join in, in fact everyone seems to join in. Locals dress up and there are pirates wondering around everywhere. There are shows, and demonstrations, not forgetting the pirate ship anchored at the pier. It all creates a wonderful atmosphere that's perfect for children. The pirate festival gives way to the Swanage Carnival and for three Saturdays it holds a large firework display. So if you are going to visit, then between June and September you'll have plenty to enjoy. Swanage is certainly not a dull seaside town.

Russian Sailing ship part of the Swanage Pirate Festival
Swanage Carnival

There has been much written about the UK's beaches, seaside resorts and weather! Alright they can be a bit tacky! Often the weather is awful and the beaches aren't always golden sands. Try saying that to the thousands of people that visit each day during the summer and us for that matter. K and M loved digging holes on the beach and paddling; they didn't go in and neither did I for once. We really should be celebrating our seaside towns. A little re-investment would go a long way to bringing some pride back. Saying that I love Swanage. It's a wonderful place to go, doesn't disappoint and it kept my two occupied for 5 days. So if you're stuck for a place to visit, then choose a trip to Swanage, take a steam train and oh, make sure you go camping. It's fun. I promise. 

Have you been to Swanage? Why not tell us about your adventures, I'd love to hear them. Thanks as always for your support and see you on the beach. That's the place where I'll be. 


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