For the uninitiated, Purbeck Valley Folk Festival is a sublime gathering of the clans in an idyllic setting in the middle of the Purbeck hills.

There are views across Corfe Castle, Swanage Railway’s heritage steam trains running alongside the site and the beautiful Jurassic Coast just around the corner. What could be better?

The site – as usual at Purbeck Valley Farm off the A351 between Corfe Castle and Harman’s Cross – even had the ‘sold out’ signs up on some of the three days as music fans flocked to soak up the friendly vibe.

PVFF achieves this without blowing all its artiste budget on stellar names – although the likes of Seth Lakeman, Newton Faulkner and The Magic Numbers can hardly be described as minor players.

Instead, there is the perfect opportunity to seek out something new and original with less FOMO lurking in the background and the need to flit from stage to stage (trudging up that hill) somewhat diminished.

Lakeman was Sunday’s closing headliner, and he’d assembled a decent folk supergroup to accompany him, including the likes of erstwhile Bellowhead guitarist Benji Kirkpatrick, multi-talented percussionist Cormac Byrne and double bass virtuoso Ben Nicholls.

And he seemed to be having the time of his life, combining new and old in a 75-minute set which demonstrated the sheer musicianship on display.

The Magic Numbers were everywhere, headlining Friday with a greatest hits set and reminding people that they remain a great live band even if they haven’t really touched the national consciousness for a while.

Romeo Stodart and sister Michele also part of the Songwriters’ Circle and Michele played a solo set, with Romeo on bass, featuring an appearance by her fifteen-year-old daughter Maisie on a song they wrote together, The Hug, as well as a cover of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide.

Newton Faulkner took the trouble to run a guitar workshop as well as headlining Saturday. Less dynamic than some, he remains seated, but went down a storm as he goes on doing things differently.

Unexpected pleasures are always a joy at Purbeck Valley. And while a four-time Grammy winners really shouldn’t be in this category, Texan singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz hadn’t really crossed my orbit. She included an exemplary cover of Dylan’s Ring Them Bells in a gorgeous set.

Luke Jackson was seen around these parts in the dim and distant past as a mere stripling of 16 supporting Show of Hands at Abbotsbury. Now 29, his voice is fuller, richer and his power trio gave us 45 minutes to treasure, featuring Bruce’s Dancing In The Dark and the Mac’s Dreams, Catch him in Swanage on September 10.

Well-bearded The Fargo Railroad Company give the impression they’re the offspring of ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they hail from Sheffield. However, they dish up ‘authentic’ southern boogie to compare with the best of them.

Scottish folkie Adam Beattie captivated with excellent tunes from his five albums and dry humour across two distinctly different sets while Bristol’s Lady Nade has an exceptional voice and eclectic songs.

Last year’s Purbeck Rising winner Rob Clamp continued his upward trajectory with a solo and a band set and Hampshire’s Monkey See Monkey Do remained ‘folk-ish’ in the extreme.

Will Lawton has the voice of an angel and with his band The Alchemists produced an uncategorisable set of dreamy jazz, folk, pop (you name it), while young 15-piece Filkin’s Ensemble created ‘orchestral folk’ behind Ellie Gowers’ vocals with a sound so big it barely fitted into the barn.

That’s not to say there weren’t some familiar faces back in the barns for 2023 – the likes of acclaimed singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams, master instrumentalists Sheelanagig, Bournemouth’s reignited Fearne, the old-time sounds of The Rigmarollers and Zummerset humourists Model Folk playing their final gig.

Then there were bluegrass superstars The Carravick Sisters, party favourites Quinns Quinney, traditionalists Alden & Patterson, the Wareham Whalers – although they did face some competition from Swanage shantymen a capella combo Kelp! – and, of course, Dorset’s footstomping oompah combo Bierfass Band.

Krista Green and the Bees delivered an uplifting, bluesy set full of soul and she compared the children’s fancy dress competition with aplomb, Southampton Ukulele Jam popped up at the top of a hill and Wiff Waff appeared as usual in the bar.

And there were, of course, also hundreds of activities going on for all the family – ceilidhs, workshops, sessions, comedy, crafts, healing area, fire shows and lots more for children, including a wandering T Rex, treasure hunts, pebble painting, a climbing wall, welly wanging, archery and spacehopper racing. And don’t I know it as we had two grandchildren in tow this year.

It was a pleasure to spend some time outdoors in beautiful surroundings with great music. Unbeatable.