Travel: Tom’s Field Campsite, Dorset

Tom’s Field, Langton Matravers
Cost: £ (Low £16-£18 p/n for 2 adults in a small tent with car)
Date of stay: Aug 2018

This year we left planning a getaway with our friends a little late for the Bank Holiday weekend, and found ourselves a bit stuck when everywhere was booked up. However, at the 11th hour Tom’s Field very much came to the rescue! Just 3 miles from Swanage, this campsite works on a first come first serve basis – and if you arrive before noon, they say you are more than likely to find a spot. We arrived just after and there was still a lot of space available.

The onsite facilities are basic but perfect for all your camping needs – token operated showers, hairdryers and laundry.  The staff at the shop are super friendly and helpful and were really approachable for any questions we had about the campsite and local area.

If you’re a fan of wild swimming, you’ve come to the right place! Just a 20 minute walk from Tom’s Field is Dancing Ledge, a man-made tidal pool drilled in to the rocks.  The only, and quite large downside to this swim is accessibility, you need to be fairly good at clambering down rocks to reach it.  However, if you fancy and are able to make the clamber, once you’ve arrived it offers a refreshing dip in amongst the bizarrely flat rocks. Not one for smashing out lengths, but perfect for enjoying a gentle float on your back while watching the clouds.

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Dancing Ledge

Another good swim – slightly more accessible in the respect it’s reachable by footpath, but with a half hour walk is Chapman’s Pool.  We went at sunset and took a barbecue with us, which was a bit of an effort to carry down, but once we were there, it was a magical evening; watching the sun go down, having a beer and eating sausages and beans in the coastal wind. There’s also a slipway in to the water, which was perfect to walk down and launch off for a sunset swim.  A beautiful location, and almost deserted by 6pm, meaning we got to have our own private party.

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Deer at Sunset, Chapman’s Pool

For a more accessible swim, Swanage sea front is also lovely, a bit busier as is just a couple of minutes walk from the town centre, but well worth a visit.

Sometimes being outside of the big city, it can be daunting walking in to a pub, not quite knowing what reception you might meet as two queer couples. We definitely walked in to and straight out of a few places.  But one place we returned to a couple of times was The Scott Arms in Kingston. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, there was a mezzanine with sofas which we managed to bag for a mega board games session on a rainy evening – we felt really at home. The food is traditional pub food, comforting, relatively reasonably priced and definitely did the job for us on a cold and wet evening. Another place we felt very chilled at was The Lulworth Cove Inn, slightly more pricey and more bistro than The Scott Arms – the crab mayo was ace (for all you seafood lovers) and the steak pie was the best I’ve had in ages (for all you carnivores) – there are some delicious sounding veggie and vegan options too! This pub was situated just a couple of minutes walk from Lulworth Cove. The weather was fairly ominous the day we visited here, but on a good day, I reckon you’d be in for a good swim!

Fancy spooking yourself a little?  There’s an ominous atmosphere at Tyneham Village, deserted since WWII when it was taken over by the Ministry of Defence to become a military training base, everyone was required to move elsewhere.  The army base is still active, so the village is only accessible by civilians on a few dates of the year.  There are plaques and displays with information and photos on all of the old buildings, and the school room has been resurrected to look as it would have at the time it was abandoned. We arrived as a thick fog descended over the village, and it felt like we were driving in to the depths of a low budget, horror film.  I’m sure on a sunny day it would have a different vibe, though there’s definitely an underlying sadness to the village; the loss felt by the residents that were forced from their homes still reverberates through the forest that surrounds it.

All in all (despite the Bank Holiday weekend weather) this was a gorgeous trip, and one I’d highly recommend – whether for a last minute Bank Holiday weekend, or a meticulously thought-through week away, there’s lots on offer and it’s especially good if you’re watching the pennies!

© Amie Taylor 2018

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Swimming Chapman’s Pool

 

 

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