There are times when Britain’s wet and windy climate comes in very handy – such as, for instance, when you’re a surfer. All that wind and wet blowing in off the surrounding seas produces surprisingly consistent and varied surf year-round, and thanks to the combination of Gulf Stream warmth and high-tech wet suits conditions are rarely too chilly to handle. Here’s something for everyone from frantic young groms to seasoned barrel-riders.
A two-mile-long beach that draws in consistent Atlantic swells; numbers in the water decrease if you walk south for a few hundred yards. On strong south and southwesterly winds, head to nearby Putsborough, which is very sheltered. Cheerful Woolacombe village is extremely surfer-friendly, with plenty of gear shops and a good surfers’ pub, the Red Barn.
www.eyeball-surfcheck.co.uk for surf conditions.
Beautiful Rhossili beach runs north into Llangennith, one of the biggest beaches in Wales and the focal point for Gower surfing. The beach picks up plenty of swell to suit all levels of ability, although it can be hard work paddling out in larger swells. Most visiting surfers hone in on the lively Hillend Camping and Caravan Park in the dunes at Llangennith, where board rental and lessons are available, while nearby in Llangennith village is the legendary PJ’s surf shop and the equally venerable King’s Head pub.
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire
One of the original centres of the northeastern surfing scene, there’s an enthusiastic and friendly vibe at Saltburn, with everyone from complete beginners to salty experts making the most of the local waves. It’s always busy when there’s a swell running, but there are lots of uncrowded waves in the area too if you’re prepared to explore. This stretch of the North Sea coast is surprisingly consistent – though pretty chilly at times.
Thurso’s reef break is a world-class right-hander that has hosted international pro contests and provides a fast, barrelling ride to triple overhead and bigger. Less experienced surfers can hit the town’s beach, and if you want to explore there are world-class reef and beach breaks all along Scotland’s northern coast. Take a good wet suit though…
www.magicseaweed.com for surf conditions.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Watergate has quality beach breaks for all levels of ability – and when the tide drops, it reveals a two-mile expanse of beach. This gives you a chance to get away from the crowds in front of the beach car park, which is where you’ll find the wildly popular (some say overhyped…) Xtreme Academy watersports resort, along with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant. www.watergatebay.co.uk.
Where are your own favourite surfing spots in Britain? Let us know below.