Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Surf/Climb Holiday Part 3: Beaches

Its totally obligatory when visiting the south west of England to go to the beach.  Whats more, there is a beach to suit every mood, and most swell directions if surfing is your thing.  Surfing isn't really my thing, but I like water and wild weather and having a boogie board and a steamer wetsuit seems to be enough to entice me out in to the surf even in November.  I need fairly benign conditions however, in fact, boogie boarding lends itself to baby surf. By the end of the trip though I was starting to lust after a pair of fins and the potential to go and play in the big stuff out the back with the big boys......

Due to the wet nature of these activities, I don't have so many good photos to share with you from this aspect of the trip.  One secret site was ridden on a pre dawn raid by my proper surfing companions, and there wasn't even enough light to photograph them... However, here are a few snaps, and some pointers as to when these beaches get good:

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, is really sheltered, and therefore only really gets going when westerly swells are huge. On this day the conditions were good to big, but the beach gets really steep towards the top of the beach and therefore only the good and the brave were out, lurking near the back.

This was Gwithian on the north coast of Cornwall on the biggest scariest day imaginable. Gale force off shore winds and massive westerly swell. The guys out windsurfing are some of the best in the country and they were eaten alive (whilst having a lot of fun). 

On the opposite coast, Praa Sands, which is a huge beach.  It was ripping quite badly on this day so I didn't stay out for long.

The best surf of the trip was had at the secret(ish) location near St Ives, which only gets good when westerly swells are really big.  Ok, so its Hawks Point, and involves an amazing meandering descent down steps and paths through cliff top gardens to get to and often a swim to the shore. We also had a lovely sunset surf at Sennen, with westerly swell and offshore winds... I really started to get the hang of my boogie thing at Putsborough, in North Devon, in messy swell that made me work really hard but was a great learning experience. Fins here we come. 

Often however, the swell was just too big, too messy, too onshore..... So we had some great walks on wild rocky beaches.  Walking out to Morte point and along to Bull Point in a gale was amazing.  We could hardly stand up in the wind, and felt at any moment we might be swept away.  Rockham beach is an incredible shattered landscape of rock and sea and was no less atmospheric for the storm.  Pictures below:

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