Many are drawn to the sea, but for the intrepid and patient amongst us the essential link between the two worlds is surfing. The sense of exhilaration and basic feeling of being propelled by nature is addictive and therapeutic for the soul. Disconnecting from daily life and feeling in turn the raw power of the ocean can be life changing, and is a great way to get fit.
Our island nation is home to some of the best surfing beaches in Europe, indeed surfers are drawn from the Antipodes, perhaps in large part due to the comparative benevolence of our marine life, but mainly to surf the challenging British breaks. The sport is now well established in Britain and you will not have too much trouble in finding a local reputable surfing school, a great way to get the whole family active on your next cottage holiday by the sea.
Let’s take a close look at our top 5 British surfing beaches.
5. Saltburn by the Sea, North Yorkshire
The North Sea coastline is perhaps not the first place you might think of as a premier surfing destination but Saltburn by the Sea is quite rightly considered to be one of the best surfing locations in the country. Boasting a rich surfing heritage, Saltburn produces world class waves and has played host to the UK professional surf championship. The sea air at Saltburn has been attracting holidaymakers for centuries becoming particularly popular during the Victorian era. The unrelenting North Sea has carved out a beautifully rugged coastline and creates a popular beach break for surfers with the southern pier favoured by the most experienced. The Saltburn surf school is the place to head for beginners looking to learn in a well-managed and controlled environment against the backdrop of the stunning North Yorkshire coast.
4. Llangennith, Gower Peninsula
The village of Llangennith on the glorious Gower Peninsula is just a short drive (half an hour) from Swansea and is easily accessible via the M4. The expansive sandy bay (3 miles) at Llangennith has always been popular with families and now surfers flock to ride the famous summer swell. Situated on the exposed north western tip of the peninsula, the surf at Llangennith is renowned as the best in the Gower. The power of the breaks makes this paddling out tricky but you will be rewarded with consistent, typically overhead, breaks. Llangennith is recommended as a great location to learn and the local surf schools offer classes with qualified instructors. Why not take in the serene beauty of this AONB with a lesson at sunset! If the breaks are a little too strenuous then there are always the dunes to sit back and survey the summer scene.
3. Thurso, Scotland
Steeped in history, Thurso on the extreme north Scottish coast was formerly a trading gateway to the ancient Norse kingdoms. The most northern town in Britain, Thurso overlooks the Orkney Islands, which gives you a picture of just how ‘north’ we are talking. The Pentland Headland sends in a powerful swell, which is renowned for its winter surfing, creating barrels considered to be world class on its day. The area is surrounded by reefs which all help to create one of the longest hollow rides in Europe. Indeed, such consistently pristine conditions have attracted several world qualifying series championships over the past decade.
2. Sennen Cove, Cornwall
Cornwall faces the full force of the surging Atlantic, essentially a conveyor belt for great surf. When considering surfing in this part of the world you might instinctively think about Fistral Beach in Newquay, home of the National Surfing Centre. If however you want to avoid the crowds then head further west towards Land’s End and the stunningly azure Sennen Cove. The exposed south west tip of England is home to probably the most consistent waves in Britain, a beautiful and enigmatic cove boasts a year round surf school. Surfers share the breaks with seals and sometimes even inquisitive dolphins. This is a great place to learn to surf with a large sandy beach and handy restaurant where you can retreat and maybe recuperate after your exertions in the Cornish surf. For the more accomplished the swell sucking beach break and Atlantic barrels along with the friendly Sennen vibe makes for great base for a surfing holiday.
1. Croyde, North Devon
Like its Cornish neighbour Devon is a magnet for surfers, and the breaks at Croyde are some of the best. Benefitting from a westerly facing location on the North Devon coast, Croyde is a special place and in many ways is a throwback to tranquil age gone by. The pace of life over the past 50 years has largely remained unchanged with thatched cottages providing the backdrop to a quiet setting with a ubiquitous village stream set on the Heritage coastline. The magic of the area is largely down to the quaint ambience which attracts many holidaymakers back year after year. The locals mix well with surfers, drawn by the challenging Atlantic swell, who in turn feel at home surrounded by the essential surfing accoutrements in and amongst this hamlet setting. Hungry visitors have a choice of traditional eateries alongside the sophisticated, cosmopolitan but relaxed Blue Groove bar and restaurant. It seems Croyde has created a great balance to support holidaymakers whilst incorporating surfing into the local way of life. The surf itself produces A-frame barrels in what is probably the best beach break in Britain, attracting large numbers of this country’s best surfers.
Find your coastal holiday cottage in the UK today.