It was just so good to be back at this perfect little festival nestling among the hills in Purbeck, glorious views of Corfe Castle and the odd steam train chugging along nearby.

The enforced absence in 2020 made attendance this year even more vital and, pleasingly, it has hardly changed.

True, the international acts were unable to travel and there were a few necessary changes, but that just left more room for domestic talent.

It’s a tribute to the immense work behind the scenes of organisers Cath Burke and dad Paul and the sterling efforts of the whole team that this four-day show got on the road again – and bigger than ever.

With no stellar names at this year’s event, the stressful festival FOMO was pleasingly absent. Thus, here are some random thoughts from three days of wandering.

Carl’s Comedy Club made its first Purbeck Valley appearance with two nights of laughter in the tiny Duck Tent. Five comics of varying degrees of hilarity each night – a welcome addition to the festival that can only grow – and get funnier.

The non-music areas have been expanded, especially the children’s activities, with a multitude of arts, crafts, science, storytelling, circus skills, welly wanging, puppet theatre and morris dancing.

An expanded Thursday evening session kicked things off, proving busier than ever with seven acts covering two main stages.

Friday highlights included the inimitable Grace Petrie, protest singer extraordinaire, who mixed classic favourites such as Black Tie, Ivy and Farewell To Welfare with new material from forthcoming album Connectivity.

Accompanied by fiddler Ben Moss, Petrie’s set went down a storm for the second year in succession (actually in 2019, but you know what I mean) driven by her social commentary, wry humour and complete and unrelenting faith in her beliefs.

We are now way beyond describing her as the female Frank Turner as we await a mainstream folk breakthrough for the singer whose memorable best lyric is utterly unrepeatable here.

An act that has broken through, hard-working Poole duo Ninebarrow, turned up with a band and the ensuing fuller sound was a pleasing revelation.

Joining them for what essentially a home gig – stretch your head out of the barn and look up to see Nine Barrow Down from where they took their name on the northern ridgeway of the Purbeck hills – were Nizlopi double bassist John Parker, Sam Kelly’s percussionist Evan Carson and Kadia cellist Lee MacKenzie.

Musical maestro Jon Whitley and partner Jay LaBoucharderie presented a festival set of well-travelled tunes on the usual folkiie subjects nature, more nature, death, destruction and restoration. It was great to hear For A Time, the story of lost Dorset village Tyneham.

A pleasant half-hour in the warm company of Pantheatrix, the Bournemouth-based schlock horror troupe of fire eaters, sword swallowers and fire jugglers. Anyone who can hula hoop with a burning hoop has my utmost respect. Bonkers but brilliant.

The energy generated by the nine-piece Bristol collective Cut Capers got the Friday crowd dancing like never before while Pons Aelius, named after a Roman fort at the Newcastle end of Hadrian’s Wall, delivered a dynamic set with bagpipes to the fore.

Highlight of the weekend was influential Scottish trio of Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble.

Lau guitarist and singer Drever, award-winning multi-instrumentalist McCusker and Idlewild vocalist Woomble combine beautifully for a series of dreamy, atmospheric tunes glued together by Woomble’s deep, rich, effortless voice.

Their only album together, 2008’s hugely underrated Before The Ruin, a collaborative tribute to three disparate musicians coming together to create something special, was plundered to good effect, with the Idlewild classic You Held The World In Your Arms.

The likes of the effervescent Dana Immanuel & the Stolen Band, harmonic Goat Roper Rodeo, singer-songwriter Matt Owens, the ever reliable alt-folk combo Gadarene, all offered completely different takes on folk – which is what makes this festival so rounded and inclusive.

Jackie Oates really does have a beautiful voice and, complemented by John Spiers’ exemplary melodeon work, makes for an excellent 40 minutes of traditional folk.

Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, better known these days as Edgelarks, never disappoint. Both multi-instrumentalists, the couple create a bigger sound than should be possible from a duo.

Henry’s slide guitar work is probably the best around, complementing perfectly her pure voice - and that’s without his beatboxing.

The heroic Kathryn Tickell, supposed to be backed by The Darkening in the band’s first gig since 2019, instead fronted a mostly pick-up band after three members were pinged and unable to travel from the north east.

But, as she said, the show must go on and with various musical folk recruited on the way south to other festivals, followed by frantic rehearsals, here was Kathrine with a four-piece band entertaining a goodly Sunday night crowd with traditional Northumbrian tunes.

Think plenty of uilean pipes and you’ll get the picture, but minus the usual band’s big sound, Tickell sometimes reverted to a selection of old regional dance tunes from the frozen north as well as her newest, dancey fare.

Katie Spencer was in a similar boat, playing late Sunday on the Fire Stage having been unable to make her scheduled Friday slot.

Jolly good it was too, with the Hull-based singer songwriter well worth the wait. Her well observed tunes and a few John Martyn covers were perfect as the sun went down on this most idyllic of festivals.