Workshops and entertainment at the South West Outdoor Festival
Talks, films, music, selected workshops and adventure activities are free as part of the festival.
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, Panasonic and Exmoor National Park, 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, including:
Adventure Travel Film Club
Adventure Travel Film Club is on a mission to bring outdoor inspiration to every city in the world, showcasing the best in adventure travel films, providing inspiration for adventurers, explorers and armchair travellers.
Come along and explore the world with us at the South West Outdoor Festival, where they are showing a mixture of shorts followed by a feature film each night.
Join a ranger and let them take you on a journey through space and time in the great outdoor kaleidoscope above Exmoor – Europe's first international dark sky reserve.
Not everyone wants to experience the outdoors at running pace, sometimes the best adventures are enjoyed in a low gear, where you have the time to fully take in your surrounds, smell the wild roses and share your thoughts with a friend as you trek or trundle along the trail.
Join slow adventure specialist Tor McIntosh for a casual Q&A session in the orchard on the Saturday, where she’ll explain the concept of what she does, and then join her for a slow adventure through Heddon Valley.
Bushcraft sessions with the Meek Family
The Meeks are living what they preach: spending time together as a family, enjoying the outdoors and pushing their comfort zones. Having sold their house and given up their jobs two years ago, the Meek family home is now a six-berth Elddis motorhome.
In the summer of 2014 they set off for a year of ed-venture, touring the UK in a caravan, exploring the country and educating their girls as they went. A year was just not long enough, however, and since the whole family loved their new lifestyle so much, they decided to carry on for a second year. Come and discover some of the amazing skills and knowledge they’ve acquired along the way.
Outdoor Photography Workshops and Demos
Major festival partners Panasonic will be bringing their visionary expertise to the party and hosting a Photography Roadshow at Heddon Valley during the festival, with pro photographers, field experts and brand ambassadors sharing their knowledge and tips on how to capture those perfect outdoor moments in still and video format.
Come and have a play with the latest cameras and see footage captured out on the trails during the weekend.
Adventures with Kids Q&A
Besides running and writing, Jen and Sim Benson also have a young family, and – having just spent an entire year travelling with their two children and sleeping in a tent – they are living proof that the arrival of kids does spell the end of outdoor adventures for parents.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Join Jen and Sim for an informal chat about travel and adventure with children.
Al Fresco Reading Space
Chill out in a dedicated reading zone, where you can browse books about the outdoors, meet some of the authors, purchase signed copies and generally take a breather from all the activity taking place around the festival site.
Drystone wall workshops
Discover ancient skills used for centuries to construct walls without cement, which can handle the wild windy conditions of the moors.
Exmoor National Park Big Adventure Experiences
Join Exmoor rangers, the local experts, as they share their knowledge about everything that happens in the park, from the wildlife we'll be sharing the valley with, to the stars that form a kaleidoscopic night ceiling above Exmoor, Europe's first official Dark Sky Reserve.
National Park rangers will be be holding one of their legendary Big Adventure experiences over the whole weekend, with free activities including guided food foraging walks and campfire cooking sessions.
Highly knowledgeable rangers will be leading small groups on short but fascinating guided walks around the Heddon Valley and down to the sea shore, talking about the local wildlife (including otters, deer, birds of prey and marine life) and explaining the amazing geological and human history of the area, which once featured a Roman signal fort.
Q&A with Phoebe Smith
Phoebe Smith likes to sleep wild – from caves to mountain tops, disused farmsteads and under giant boulders. At the South West Outdoor Festival she'll show you how you can make the most of your weekends, unlocking some of the best places to wild camp.
She'll have you reaching for your bivvy bag as she recounts her 'Extreme Sleeps Challenge' in which she became the first woman to sleep solo at the extreme points of mainland Britain and will share with you hard-won advice on what to pack, staying safe in the wilderness and how to have some wild nights of your own. Phoebe-Smith.com
Not all outdoor activities take place at breakneck speed, some of the very best adventures – whether you're on foot or afloat in a boat – happen at a more sedate pace, when you can see, smell, touch and taste the elements and environment around you in a more appreciable way.
Join our experts as they show you how to slow down and take more in.
Cotswold Outdoor Knowledge Centre
Major festival partners and leading adventure experts, Cotswold Outdoor are bringing the full weight of their four decades' worth of experience to the festival, with a comprehensive Knowledge Centre right in the heart of the basecamp.
This will involve a foot clinic (where you can get advice on walking boots and running shoes), a backpack clinic (how to choose and pack properly), a bike clinic (maintenance and basic repairs pre and post ride) stove-top cooking displays (compare the performance of different camping stoves) and tactile technical fabric demonstrations (cutting through the jargon to explain what fancy fabrics actually do).
Imagine a tightrope – then relax the tension, lower the elevation, widen the wire and put it in an outdoor setting – now you have a slackline.
Learning how to walk along one of these is ace for improving balance, posture, concentration and social standing. We will have several lines up for you to practise on. Be warned, though – it's addictive.
Learn how to build a blaze, bake bread and rustle up an incredible range of tasty recipes on an open fire, with our very own naked-flame chefs.
Wild food foraging
Learn how to live off the land, safely sampling everything from berries and wild mushrooms to roasted stinging nettles.
Grab a hot chocolate, gather around the fire and lend us your ears as our raconteur regales old and young with a series of yarns.
Trail / Night Running Workshops
Interested in trying trail running, or intrigued about going on your first nocturnal adventure but not sure about taking that first step?
Come along to a friendly clinic to find out how to get started and how to calm your nerves.
With the festival’s camping village being perched right on the Exmoor coast, in the heart of a tree-lined valley in an area famed for being a dark sky reserve, there are plenty of opportunities for children to tick off experiences from their 50 things list – see rangers for booklets.
Throughout the course of the festival there will be live music to enjoy, including energetic performances by local bands such as Echo Town – two supertalented, multi-instrumentalist, rock-climbing brothers.
The festival will also feature a series of outdoor- and adventure-themed film screenings presented and staged by the Adventure Travel Film Festival. Stay tuned for more details about other live entertainment options.
More details to come.