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surfing weekend in Newquay

7 November 2011 8,291 views One Comment

You had me at ‘beach’ but throw in a sunny November weekend, a special surf’n’stay offer & a slice of England I’ve never seen before, and I was off to Newquay.
The drive down was clear and fast with some great views across plump, green, latticed fields. I enjoyed seeing Stonehenge; it seemed quite small from the road but it’s hard to get proper perspective driving along and taking in the sheep, people and stones at the same time.

‘my’ beach

My hostel was right on the cliff – there were even ‘danger’ signs on the terrace :) Both the dorm window and the downstairs bar windows had panoramas across the Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches. It’s a pretty stretch and it varies a lot between tides. At low tide the waves are little ripples and there’s a big ribbon of sand, making it look like just one beach, punctured with a few crops of rock. By high tide almost all the sand is invisible, the grey-blue surf is right up to the cliffs and the different bays are more clearly defined. It’s a while since I’ve seen tides as changeable as this; there was forty minutes difference between high tide on Saturday and Sunday, that’s a lot innit.

the sport

I was booked on to a package with the superb Escape Surf School – the had a good deal on, all of their staff were super friendly & helpful, and their location is unbeatable. We surfed in the mornings, just small groups of 6 or 7, our gear was included – really decent wetsuits actually, and pretty decent boards for end of season. Caroline (Caroleen, she’s French, I have never been called ‘darling’ so much when I’ve surfed) and Mike (team GB coach, South African, and to steal a recent phrase, ‘lean as a slice of beef jerky’) were the instructors and they did an awesome job with the lessons, plus they were just charming, nice people to hang with aside from the sport.
Conditions weren’t amazing. After a few weeks of incredible off shore winds this weekend it was a mess. But really, it’s November on the Cornish coast, who’s counting? All I wanted to know is whether I’d still be able to feel my fingers & toes at the end. Typically it was warmer in the water than out and maaaan it was good to be in the water, to get bashed around by the surf, to be salty & windy. Getting back on a board (first time since Sri Lanka, about three months ago) was interesting… the few skills I ever had, well, they’d evaporated entirely, so it was back to basics. Loved it though and I think my basics are probably better than they’ve ever been. On Sunday I had the most consistent surf I’ve ever had – catching, standing and riding all the ones I wanted to.

the service

The Escape team really do have their act together, we had the option to buy photos after both sessions. Two things about that 1) they don’t make it obvious that they provide this so it’s a nice little kicker when we found out 2) WHO takes photos on blowy, cold, out of season weekend mornings? I have a lot of respect for their work.

around the area

I walked round to Fistral beach, along the cliff, around the headland and down onto the shimmering, sunsetting beach. It’s a beauty and there’s good surf here too and a lot more action from the locals. The beaches do feel different to Australia – the cliffs, the jagged rocks, the bouncy green grass all making up part of the scene, plus you have dogs on the beach, people wrapped up in good, proper winter gear and not a surf ski, life saving rowboat or skimboard in sight, and then there’s the lack of decent coffee, ha ha ha. They’re beautiful though, especially at this quiet time of year and when we’re graced with so much winter sunshine.
I was staying outside of the main Newquay stretch, more towards the harbour, which is cute bit of town. The hostel, St Christopher’s, is right above Belushi’s which is a typical bar but exceptional in that the food is way better than your average bar/ pub, in fact the veggie burger was excellent. I only skirted the edge of the town but
I can’t say Newquay had much else that I was interested in, it was all arcade games, bad pubs and shops selling surf gear, not so much as a Pizza Express to mix things up. So the surf gear shops were a highlight and yes, I now own one of Cornwall’s finest Fat Willy hoodies. Maybe next time, and there will be a next time, I’ll find some cleaner surf and some dirtier pubs :)

x surferluce



first day’s efforts

Fistral headland and beach

along the Towan, GW and Tolcarne beaches

second day improvements although why does the surf look SO much smaller than it really was, there were MASSIVE waves!! :)


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One Comment »

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Polzeath said:

    […] for boarding. Got my board and walked out (no need to paddle). Last time I was on a board was in Newquay, November 2011, it had been wicked, but could I still surf? I fluffed my first wave; just didn’t commit, but […]

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