South West Outdoor Festival information

Image of walkers at Woody Bay with SWOF branding

Everything you need to know to plan your trip to the South West Outdoor Festival.

Day visitors

Day visitors are very welcome to attend the festival on the Saturday and Sunday, when they can take part in numerous activities, events and adventures, many of which are free. Parking is available in a dedicated area next to the festival site, which is at the western end of Cheddar Gorge, directly above Black Rock, with vehicle access via Warren Farm in Blagdon (postcode: BS40 7XR, see below for more detailed directions). Please do not attempt to park in the gorge and walk up, as this area will have extremely limited space and we cannot allow you to obstruct the road in any way, as this will present a real danger to cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers. The site’s capacity to accommodate day visitors is finite, and we may have to restrict numbers – the best way to avoid disappointment and save money is to prepay. Tickets are £5 per adult and £15 per family when booked in advance, or £10 and £30 respectively if you pay at the gate. 

Camping

The South West Outdoor Festival welcomes both experienced campers and those new to the joys of sleeping under canvas beneath the kaleidoscopic night sky. We have a range of camping options available to suit people's varying preferences – standard camping for the self-sufficient, glamping (bell tent and some equipment supplied, just bring yourself and a sleeping bag) and campervan sites (BYO van, no electricity provided). However, the number of sites is strictly limited and we have already received a large amount of interest, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Campers are urged to arrive as early as possible on the Friday afternoon, to make the most of the weekend. Standard Camping sites will self-selected on a first-come-first-pitch basis, and Glamping tents and Campervan Sites will be allocated in a similar fashion.

The camping area of the festival site is directly adjacent to the Festival Hub, which is located in paddocks directly above Black Rock at the top of Cheddar Gorge (OS Explorer 141; grid ref: ST487/543). Vehicle access is via Warren Farm in Blagdon (postcode: BS40 7XR). This is a pop-up campsite specifically created for the festival, so there is no permanent infrastructure, but toilet and washing facilities will be supplied. A range of quality food vendors will be on site throughout the weekend. While the focus of the festival is on outdoor pursuits, there will be evening entertainment including some live music, which will be audible across the site, but won’t go on beyond 11.30pm.

Four unique and amazing selling points of the campsite

  • This is a unique opportunity to camp right above the gorge, with views across the Mendips, the Somerset Levels and out to sea.    
  • The site is on an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and Special Scientific Interest, with resident wild badgers, deer and raptors.
  • Campers can enjoy all the free evening entertainment on offer at SWOF, without worrying about the drive home.
  • The camping areas are all child-friendly and vehicle free, and will have communal areas where you can socialise and share stories about the adventures you’re enjoying at the festival.

Standard Camping Area

The main camping zone is in the northern corner of the festival site, overlooking Black Rock and the gorge. Lovely. It’s a spacious area, but please don’t bring tents that are bigger than necessary. The zone is strictly vehicle free, with a dedicated parking area roughly 200 to 300 metres away, so please be mindful that you will need to transport your tent and gear a short distance across the field. Once you’re set up, access to food, entertainment, activities, toilets and showers is all just a few minutes stroll away. The cost of weekend camping tickets is £40–£50 per adult, or £95–£130 for families, with the best deals available to those who book the earliest. Ticket price is inclusive of entry into the festival and access to all the great stuff that comes along with that.

Glamping Village

We have a limited number of pre-pitched bell tents available for hire for people who want to camp but don't have their own equipment, or who want to simply arrive and dive straight into the activities on offer, without having to put up a tent or risk breaking a nail… These spacious and comfortable 4-person tents will be ready and waiting when you arrive, and come with ground sheet, air mattress and lighting, but you will need to bring your own bedding (sleeping bags/duvet and pillows). These are suitable for individuals, couples, families (two adults and up to three children) or groups of up to four adults. The cost of Glamping tickets is £225–£260, with the best deals available to those who book the earliest. Ticket price is inclusive of entry into the festival and access to all the great stuff that comes along with that. A refundable deposit of £100 (or current credit card details) will also be required per tent to cover any damage.

Campervans

We have space for a limited number of small campervans (combi-style/size vans only please, and no large awnings). These will be parked on a largely level space at the top of the festival field, with easy access to the festival hub, entertainment and facilities. The cost of a campervan site is £95–£130 (with the best deals available to those who book the earliest), which admits two adults and up to three children.   

Rules of the campsite

  • Bring your own food by all means, but please use a stove to cook it (small gas bottle stoves only). If you're using a disposable barbeque, please place it on something heatproof, well away from any tents, and dispose of it safely once it has thoroughly cooled. 
  • Bring small amounts of your own alcohol if you must, but our festival bar is a much cooler place to hang out. No glass please – including bottles of booze.
  • Dogs are permitted, but they must be very well behaved and kept on leads and under control at all times. Please ensure you have bags to clear up after your animal, and that you dispose of these properly. 
  • There will be no parking in the camping zones, but dedicated parking areas are on site, and vehicle access is easy (please follow signs and heed instructions as you approach).
  • Please respect your neighbours, some of whom may have children, and avoid making unnecessary noise after 10pm.
  • Use the bins provided please, noting recycling labels. 
  • No generators or sound systems – we have a range of ace entertainment options you can enjoy with other festivalgoers.
  • Absolutely no open fires are to be lit within the festival area or anywhere else in the gorge or across the Mendips. 
  • No fireworks, powered vehicles, drones, weapons of mass destruction or pan pipes please. 

How to get there

The festival is taking place at the top of iconic Cheddar Gorge, directly above Black Rock (OS Explorer 141; grid ref: ST487/543). Vehicle access is via Warren Farm in Blagdon (postcode: BS40 7XR).

To put that in perspective, the site is within a 45-minute drive of both Bristol and Bath, and is very easily accessed from the M4 and M5.

Directions

Driving

From Bristol, take the A38 south, before turning left on Ashey Lane towards Burrington, just before Langford.

From Bath, take the A36–A39–A368 to the junction with Harptree Hill, then continue straight on (leaving the A368), before turning right onto the B3134.

Coming from the South, take the M5 north to Junction 22, then the A38 north to Cheddar. Drive right through the gorge, then take the first left turn and the first left again, onto the B3134.

Coming from the North or London, take the M4 to Bristol, then follow the instructions above.

From the Southeast, take the M3–A303 to the junction with the A36, then drive west through Warminster and Frome, then the A361–A37 before turning left on the B3135– B3134 to Blagdon.

Look out for yellow signs directing you to the festival once you’re getting close. Please follow requests to drive slowly and carefully on the quiet country road leading to SWOF, and once on the site itself. Be aware that bike and horse riders, as well as walkers and runners, may be using the roads too.

Public Transport

Train

The closest train hub is Bristol (www.nationalrail.co.uk). From here, take the train from Bristol (Temple Meads) to Weston-super-Mare, then FIRST Bus 126 (Sundays 826) to Cheddar.

Bus

From Weston-super-Mare, Axbridge and Wells, take FIRST bus 126 Monday-Saturday (hourly) or bus 826 on Sundays (every 2 hours)

From Street, Wedmore and Shipham take bus 668 (every 2 hours, Monday-Saturday)

www.traveline.org.uk

Bike

National Cycle Network Route 3 crosses B3135 at the top of Cheddar Gorge near Priddy.

The Strawberry Line cycle path follows the old railway line from Yatton to Cheddar.

Cycle routes:  www.sustrans.org.uk

Boot

The Mendip Way, a 50-mile long-distance footpath crossing the Mendip Hills from Uphill to Frome, goes right past the campsite. www.mendiphillsaonb.org.uk

Times you can arrive and leave

Those camping for the weekend should aim to arrive at the site on Friday 8 September, in the afternoon/evening (any time after midday). Campers’ cars will be parked in dedicated areas on the festival site. Thereafter you will have unlimited access to your vehicle – and you can leave the festival at any time – but we would really prefer you to avoid driving around until it's time to break camp and head home. The festival activities and food vendors will wind down from 5pm on Sunday 10 September. Please observe and obey traffic calming and directional signs as you drive in and away from the festival.    

Things to look out for

Music and Film

Throughout the course of the festival there will be live music to enjoy. The festival will also feature a series of outdoor- and adventure-themed film screenings. Stay tuned for more details about other live entertainment options.   

Food and Drink

Campers and day visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drink into the festival (no glass please), however throughout the weekend there will be lots of delicious locally grown, sourced, produced and prepared food available to buy and try, including vegetarian options, gourmet coffee and hot chocolate, and several glorious ales and ciders from Cheddar and the South West. Stay tuned for more details. 

Facilities

There are no permanent toilets at the site, but the festival will provide temporary toilets for the weekend. We will be encouraging you to take part in all sorts of activities throughout the weekend, and a limited number showers will also be provided so your better half allows you back in the tent at the end of the day. Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills are within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of their amazing natural heritage, and for environmental reasons we can not release any grey water, so please ensure you limit yourself to one shower a day, and keep it short and sweet if you can.

Talks and Workshops

Throughout the weekend you will be able to hear some genuinely inspirational tales of adventure and exploration from some truly incredible individuals. Stay tuned for more details.

Outdoor activities

Every single person who attends the festival will be able to take part in a range of activities and adventures over the weekend – there is literally something here to suit all levels of skill, experience and fitness, or lack thereof, you just have to be willing to give it a go. Group sessions will be taking place at different times on the Saturday and Sunday, with highly qualified outdoor education instructors and guides imparting their knowledge and teaching the essential skills for pursuits ranging from rock climbing and caving to canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, mountain biking, food foraging, axe throwing and even skiing…   

Over the course of the weekend, a series of timed and competitive adventure events will be taking place – including trail running races, cycling and multisport challenges – so you can pit yourself against the landscape and the elements, and take on your friends and fellow festival goers. These events, which do have an entry fee, are open to weekend campers and day visitors alike, and the routes will explore some of the best terrain in the South West. Places are limited, and there is an earlybird rate for all of these events, so book your spot as soon as you see something that appeals and start training for the challenge.         

Free activities

The festival is not all about physical challenges and high-adrenaline pursuits, there will be plenty of opportunity to pause, absorb the sensational surroundings, and smell (and, under the instruction of our foraging experts, even taste) the local flora. Thanks to the expertise of SWOF partners the National Trust, Cotswold Outdoor, the Mendip Hills AONB, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Longleat and the know-how of the veritable army of local outdoor experts and enthusiasts who are working on the festival with us, we're able to offer a multitude of free activities. Seize this great opportunity to learn fresh skills and try new experiences – stay tuned for more details.

Cotswold Outdoor Knowledge Centre

SWOF partners Cotswold Outdoor will be operating a Knowledge Centre at the festival site, with product experts and athletes conducting a series of informative and interactive sessions, demonstrating how to get the very best out of your gear and providing top tips on how to choose the right outdoor equipment for your personal requirements. Please note, all of these seminars and sessions are free to attend, and there is no requirement to purchase anything (in fact, Cotswold Outdoor will not have a commercial presence at the festival, so please make sure you come with everything you need for the activities you are taking part in over the weekend, including energy bars and gels, and spare tubes and tools if you're taking part in cycling event).

The Knowledge Centre will include the following:

Roll-up Bike Workshop

If you're taking part in a cycling event during the festival and you've detected a strangle rattle or hum coming from your bike, get it checked out by the Cytech Level-3 qualified mechanics before you hit the trails/lanes. And, if you're looking for some top tips about pre and post-ride bike maintenance, they will be imparting their hard earned knowledge about this too. Drop (or roll) in at any time over the weekend to ask bike tech-related questions.

Walk-in Footwear Clinic

Feet. We use them every day, but do we treat them properly? Sadly, often the answer is no. If you're experiencing problems with your hooves, come and consult the feet agony aunts and uncles here. The team of experts will walk you through the best way to select the running shoes and walking boots that perfectly suit you, and the pursuits you want to do. Topics covered during group and individual discussions will include footwear biomechanics, gait analysis, pronation, barefoot theory, stretches and warm ups.  

Cooking Sessions

Camp cooking is an integral part of the outdoor experience, but with such a wealth of stoves available, which one suits your requirements best. Come and have a play with a range of options here, and decide for yourself, with some brilliant advice from highly experienced al fresco experts – people who have spent years making brews and cooking up a storm in campsites and on beaches, at the top of peaks and the bottom of crags, and in remote corners of the outdoor world in all kinds of conditions. There will be demonstrations showing which stoves can boil water the quickest, which ones offer the best simmer controls, and which are the lightest to carry around, plus tips on such subjects as dehydrated food and how to spice up your camp cooking life.

Rucksack Clinic

Rule number one: a bag is not just a bag. Whether you're hitting the trails for a few hours or setting out on a multiday mission, the backpack you select for any given outdoor activity will have a direct bearing on how much you enjoy the experience. How you go about packing that bag is also crucially important – more so than you might believe until you see and feel it demonstrated here during a series of interactive sessions. Come and hear experts explaining how to choose the right rucksack for you, and how to fill it correctly.     

Sport Science Clinic

Baffled by talk of electrolytes and energy bars? Confused by the range of technical fabrics being used in outdoor apparel these days, and all their various claims about keeping you warm, dry and looking good? The technical experts in this corner of the knowledge centre can bring you up to speed with what you actually need – demonstrating how modern materials work and encouraging people to take a hands-on approach to feeling the difference.