Surfing UK – a guide to catching a wave without getting on a plane

August 15, 2018

You don’t have to hop on a plane to find surfing beaches, the UK has some great places to catch a wave. Acorn Property Group’s Duncan Powell has been surfing for 20 years and talks about why he loves it, the best places to surf and his tips for beginners.  Originally from Manchester, he learned to surf while at university in Cardiff but now lives in Cornwall and works in Acorn’s Newquay office.

What got you interested in surfing?
I started because I’d injured myself rock climbing and surfing placed less pressure on my injuries.

Is it difficult to learn?
Yes, very, but it’s also highly rewarding. Surfing is a sport you have to commit to and getting good at it requires a lot of ‘water time’. That said you can enjoy smaller easier waves on a bigger board as a beginner without having to commit so much – it all depends on what you want from the sport.

What’s great about surfing?
Every wave is different, even at the same break. This means every wave tests your skill and your ability to read and react to it. It’s also one of the rare sports that relies primarily on you, rather than your equipment. An experienced surfer on an old board will surf way better than a beginner with a top of the range wetsuit and a fancy shortboard.

Why is the South West such a great place to be if you like surfing?
The South West is the most exposed part of the UK – we receive swell (waves) from the NW to the SW Atlantic with variable winds, meaning somewhere on the North or South Coast there will be a good wave. The area is consistent and flexible and there is a wealth of surfing knowledge in people that live here, most of whom will more than happily share it.

Which are your favourite places to surf?
My home break of Fistral is superb, Gwenvor (near Lands End) catches any swell going so when the entire UK is flat you can still catch a wave there. The South Coast has some great spots and even Gyllyngvase gets waves in the right conditions. However, I learnt to surf in South Wales in Porthcawl so Rest Bay and Sker Point (within 10 minutes walk from Acorn’s development, The Links) will always be dear to me, as will the very rare right-hander of The Point.

Do you surf all year round?
Absolutely. The best waves are in Autumn and Winter when there is more swell – contrary to popular belief summer is not the best time to surf in the UK. Wetsuit technology means surfing in the cold is no longer an issue.

What’s the best thing about living near the coast?
I’m very fortunate to live right on the beach so have the pleasure of seeing the conditions change daily. Aside from the weather, wind, surf, expansive skyline and wildlife, the nicest thing is the people.  No matter what the weather is doing, anyone visiting the beach is here because they want to be, so everyone is happy. They could be walking the dog, surfing, flying a kite, BBQing, rock pooling, building a sand castle or diving, it doesn’t matter – they are all happy. That is infectious.

And finally, any top tips for beginners?
Don’t worry about conditions, just hire a board and give it a try. There are hire centres at most beaches with surf schools to give you a taster session.  Hire a big and buoyant board – the small sexy shortboards are the reserve of pros.

Enjoy life by the sea with Acorn’s collection of stunning coastal apartments and houses in the South West and Wales. Acorn has offices in London, Bristol, Cardiff, Hampshire and Cornwall


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