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+ Variety of beach aspects
+ Beautiful Scenery
+ Good beach and reef breaks
+ Year round consistency
- Cold water
- Cool and wet climate
- Crowds
- Pollution
- Expensive

Cornwall - North, England, EUROPE

North Cornish Reefs, Wilbur Tilley

Surf Spots

Northcott Mouth
Bude - Crooklets
Bude - Summerleaze
Widemouth Bay
Crackington Haven
Trebarwith Strand
Lundy Bay
Mawgan Porth
Watergate Bay

The Surf

For travelling English speaking surfers, a European surfari will usually begin in England. No language barriers and the international transport links that London provides, are the main reasons, but what many surfers fail to realise is England receives waves on all its coasts. The most consistent surfing area of this long coastline is Cornwall, in the far southwest where year-round swells batter a mixture of small, rocky bays and long, sandy beaches. A system of coastal paths runs the entire length of the Cornish coast, offering extensive views of the beaches reefs, and points.

The coast of North Cornwall is backed by large tracts of National Trust land and has been spared the development thatÕs blighted the county further south. The area is home to the few west-facing reefs in the country and during big winter swells the deep shelter north-facing coves come into their own, turning stormy SW swells into classy beachbreak peaks. The well maintained coast path is worth the trip as the epic coastline is one of the most dramatic in the UK. Handles both small summer swells on the beaches and winter storms at some semi-secret points and reefs.

When to Go

North Atlantic depressions usually start deepening off Nova Scotia, reaching their lowest pressure just to the south of Iceland. Cornwall receives SW-W swells, but smaller NW swells are blocked out by Ireland, which explains summer flat spells. Autumn and winter are best, and the west coast is the most consistent with regular 2-12ft swells and S to SW winds. Britains’ long continental shelf drains the swells of some power, which is noticeable on the beaches but not at the reef breaks. The South Coast, though consistent, is rarely classic as the SW swells are often accompanied by onshore, SW winds. The SW swell/NW wind combo in Porthleven works about 20-30 times a year. Prevailing winds are S-NW with more W in the summer time. The tide factor can reach 15ft “pushing” the swell on the incoming tide, and totally dictating break choice, especially if it is a reef! Tide tables are available at most surf shops.

dominant swell SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW
swell size (ft) 7 6 4 2 5-6 6-7
consistency (%) 40 70 70 60 80 50
dominant wind S -NW S -NW S -NW S -NW S -NW S -NW
average force F5 F4-F5 F4 F4 F4-F5 F5
consistency (%) 65 56 61 59 63 66
water temp (C) 9 10 12 16 14 11
wetsuit 5/4 5/4 4/3 3/2 4/3 4/3
Cornwall - 490,000

Cornwall - 6,028km (3,767mi)


Travel Information


England’s weather is notoriously famous for its mild rainy spells and unpredictability. Despite the northerly latitude it’s not that cold because the Gulf Stream warms up the coast. It rarely snows in the winter and freezing temperatures only occur at night. The best time to be a surfer in Britain is during the autumn, particularly October, when the air and water temperatures are still reasonable, swells consistent and the winds are consistently offshore. Cornwall is windy and in the middle of winter you will need a 5-4mm wetsuit with boots, gloves and maybe a hat, as the water drops to 7-9°c (45°-49°F). A 3-2 steamer is ideal in summer as the water touches 20ºc.


North Cornwall is backed almost entirely by National Trust land, with little development marring its windswept beauty. There are many festivals in summer around Newquay. Cornwall and Devon are summer holiday hotspots in Britain. Resorts such as Newquay, Bude and Torquay become jam packed and very lively.


Rocks, cold water, strong riptides, sewage and summer crowds. Cornwall suffers from intense traffic jams on holiday weekends, the roads are notoriously thin and travelling times are always longer than expected.


You don’t need a gun. There are a myriad of surf shops and board manufacturers like Ocean Magic. Boards: Nigel Semmens, Fluid Juice, Zuma Jay. A board costs $450.