Active Travels: Swanage Carnival Week

Sunset over Swanage Railway

I’ve been a seasoned “Glamper” since 2011 and my idea of camping was staying in a luxury Eurocamp tent, with my kitchen set up, a sofa and a proper bed. If you’ve been following my Twitter you’d have seen my recent trip to Swanage was nothing like this.

Swanage views

On Wednesday morning we headed off, on what happened to be one of the windiest days Swanage has had all Summer. We arrived at our campsite and after 45 minutes of crawling, diving and holding on for dear life, the struggle of trying to set up our 2 man tent (which consisted of just 2 poles) was too much. One of the poles shattered.

Swanage Camping Trip

Our first day in Swanage was supposed to be filled with fun, sun, and a wander around the beach instead we headed into the city center in search of a new tent.


Being a camping trip, we set ourself a pretty strict budget which didn’t allow for much leeway, hence why we ended up with a pop-up 2 man tent. Perfect for pitching on a windy day… Being a windy day, it was also great for inflating our flopsac!

Swanage Camping Trip

The pop up tent, seemed like a great budget idea at the time, but it’s not so great if you’re over 4ft 5 tall and want to fit a double mattress inside. Personally I’d happily of slept on the floor (good for the back apparently) but Mike wasn’t too keen on the idea. So, instead we slept with the door wide open and our tootsies hanging out, much to the amusement of the rest of the campsite, with their giant (I could live in) tents.


Swanage Camping Trip

Luckily it didn’t rain (though our tent was pretty damp) so we managed to make the most of the beach and sun for the annual Swanage carnival. This was the 5th time I’ve made it to Swanage during Carnival week (I only visited for an hour or so in 2013 & 2014, but it still counts). Carnival week is great. There are over 100 different events going on throughout the week, so luckily it’s not all about carnival queens and processions.

Swanage Camping Trip

Hundreds of people flock to the seaside over Swanage Carnival week

With Sports races, Sailing regattas, live music, fireworks, sand castle contests, talent shows, and more. There really is something for everyone, and it’s easy to see why the streets are filled with families, friends and so much happiness. If you’re visiting between June and September you’re sure to witness one of the many festivals and celebrations the town has to offer. There was even a pirate festival just before we arrived.

Swanage Camping Trip

I find the best place to watch the fireworks is on the top of the hill, great view across the sea

Swanage is the start of the Jurassic coast a world heritage site stretching all the way to Orcombe Point near Exmouth. It’s set in a cove, with huge cliffs either side. to the left there is a country park (which if you walk up you have amazing views of the town).

Swanage Camping Trip

Exploring the top of the hill

To me, Swanage is the most beautiful beach town I’ve ever visited and it has everything you could possible need; Amusement parks, punch and judy, sandy and stoney beaches, many fish and chip shops, supermarkets and a new look, all whilst still maintaining it’s tranquility. Even if there are no events on during the week, it’s still a brilliant place to visit.  

Swanage Camping Trip

Swanage Camping Trip

What is possibly the quickest and efficient fish&chip shop ever!

Swanage Camping Trip

No matter how healthy you are, ice cream is a necessity when at the seaside.

Not forgetting, Swanage also has a train station. The Swanage railway is a heritage railway which opened in 1885. It now only operates 6 miles, traveling from Swanage to Norden.

Swanage Camping Trip

Swanage Camping Trip

We used the train during our visit to take a trip to Corfe Castle. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Corfe Castle, you’ll know it’s one of the most picturesque villages in the south. A postcard village. The castle ruins are a National Trust site so we didn’t pay to go in (as much as we would have liked to, but budgets). We did however enjoy the magnificent scenery and the charming village–Yes we did buy fudge in the sweet shop & eat a burger at the restaurant, but with all the extra exercise and walking we did all week, it was totally acceptable.

Swanage Camping TripSwanage Camping Trip

The campsite we stayed at was in a little village, over 2 miles out of the town centre called Langton Matravers. We walked at least twice to and from Swanage everyday of our stay which was great for my fitbit (and the workweek hustle I won, is it cheating if I wasn’t at work?). I’d definitely stay there again as staying active while I’m away is very important to me–especially if I’m likely to eat/drink a little worse than my usual routine.

Swanage Camping Trip

Speaking of drinking, on our last evening we watched the wheelbarrow race (pub crawl). I remember seeing this on our brief visit last year and it was one of the main reasons we came back. Tons of people don their fancy dress outfits, acquire a wheelbarrow and run/push through the town. Outside every watering hole is a stand with an alcoholic drink and each team stops, necks the drink and then switches position (in the wheelbarrow/pushing the wheelbarrow). It’s total Chaos, but the carnival team are fantastic to organise such an event and manage to clear up the mess almost instantaneously. The police were also on hand in their sand buggy for “just incase”

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Although things didn’t quite go to plan, we managed (for our last night) to “bodge job” our original tent and sleep with the door fully closed and our feet inside. Especially good when you’ve had a few drinks and all you want is sleep comfily.

Swanage Camping Trip Swanage Camping Trip

I loved our little camping adventure and wouldn’t have changed a thing. I mean, what’s not to like about, 2am toilet block trips, cold unpowerful showers and being close to nature (when your doors wide open and your feet are hanging out, it’s hard not to be close). But in all seriousness it was great and I totally plan to be back again next year for more walking, camping & a little less drinking. If you want to know a bit about the history of swanage carnival and why so many people travel from across the UK to attend, then check out the carnivals history.

Swanage Camping Trip

What’s your favourite beach town in the UK? & where do you think I should take my active travels next? Let me know in the comments


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1 Comment

  • Reply Chasa Fulkerson August 20, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    This looks like loads of fun! This town looks amazing!

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