by Wounded Gull
Wales, land of song, sheep and the odd spitting barrel! On it's
day like most spots on the planet wales can be world class...
I did say on it's day! You can basically divide the region up
into four - the SE ,SW, MID & NW. Most of Wales, like the
rest of the UK is made up of sandy beaches and reef breaks, often
scattered around exposed and inaccessible coastline so to be a
surfer in Wales - you have to be committed.
What's Wales Got?
Unlike Cornwall - we don't have facilities! You're unlikely to
find a shower or carpark especially once you get into the more
rugged parts, away from the bigger towns and cities. This can
make surfing in Wales a lot more fun as you actively have to seek
out those classic spots that aren't listed in Storm Rider. Local
knowledge is key and surfs need to be timed!
Surfing in Wales is def on the up and up and the standard at
the main spots is pretty good. We have a new European
Longboard Champion - Elliot Dudley - and plenty of
hot young rippers coming up through the ranks and a few legends,
past and present - Chris Guts Griffiths, Pete Jones, Simon Tucker,
Rhino, Greg Owen, Nathan Philips to name a few. John Purton Surfboards
- JP is based on the Gower amongst many other great shapers so
there must be a reason...
Our best swells like most of the UK come from the Atlantic, Biscay
region. Ireland does block a lot of our swell and we've joked
about dynamiting the Emerald Isle to open up our beaches to more
swell! ;) Having said that we still cop plenty of swell in the
SE and SW. Mid Wales requires a bit more 'umpf' to get it going
and the North up past the Llyn Peninsula to Anglesey can get really
nice but again the swell needs to be from the right direction.
The SE is great for Cardiff based surfers. For visiting surfers
- you can fly into Cardiff airport and be surfing local breaks
within 15 mins of leaving the baggage lounge. This area has some
classic reef breaks but can be a bit localised due to their locations
and irregularity - when they're good, they're really good.
The South East
The water here is cooler than other parts of Wales due to the
direction of the Gulf Stream so it can be a bit cooler in Winter.
The sea is also brown around here due to the sediment and bristol
Channel which can be a bit off pointing at first but once you
get some good waves, it's soon forgotten! The main hub of SE surfing,
centres around Porthcawl - home to numerous spots from beach break
to reef to point break. Most surfers tend to hit Rest Bay where
the BBC have a live webcam. It does tend to be busy but a timed
surf can result in some empty perfection. The beaches nearby are
also good and more info can be found in the beach guides on www.bbc.co.uk/surfingwales
The South West
The SW is a vast area with tons of surf potential. The Gower
has too many spots to mention and miles of golden sandy beaches.
The infamous Gower reefs are busier than they used to be but empty
sessions can still be had from time to time. The reefs are offshore
in NW winds and can get pretty gnarly. We recently had a solid
clean 10ft day and quite a few local surfers washed up with broken
leashes! Each beach has it's own agenda - Llangennith is the main
spot mainly due to it's ease of access, surf schols and shop.
It is also a long stretch of beach so can hold the crowds no good
Moving away from Gower, the roads get narrower and the fields
greener! It's Pembrokeshire, home to my old local - Freshwater
west - one of the most consistent spots in wales and home to the
Welsh National Championships. The Pembs crew are traditionally
more relaxed than our Gower compatriots - we don't tend to bother
with comps and free surfing is the way. Both sides of the Haven
are quality but you'll find many lcoal guys will stay put and
prefer to surf their spot than drive 30 mins!
There are plenty of set ups here and the area boasts one of Europes
heaviest reef breaks as featured in Carve magazine. It's one of
the few Hawaiian style barrelling reefs in the uk and is rarely
surfed at any size due to it's remoteness and power. On big days,
the beaches turn on and those out of the way spots begin firing.
There is a very good wedging, board snapping barrel here that
has dished out many good kickings over the years.
Moving up the coast it gets even quieter - Ceredigion country.
As I mentioned previously it takes a fair old swell to get going
but has some superb but fickle reefs and point breaks including
G-Land, a grinding rivermouth break with an exceptional barrel.
Moving up towards surfing student mecca - Aberystwyth you're
well on your way to the Llyn Peninsula, home to Hells Mouth and
I've not had the privilege of surfing this yet but have seen enough
photos of the big wedgey barrels to know it's a classic spot with
a good local surf shop - west coast.
Moving on up you get into a bit of a guessing game. The druids
keep this region a closely guarded secret and I wouldn't want
any ancient voodoo spells being cast on my boards so I'll leave
well alone. If you score good waves then you're lucky! It takes
a good swell, the right winds and a few spells but the area has
a few hidden gems.
I'd sum up Wales as not quite as good as Ireland (you've got
more breaks!) but less crowded than Cornwall and Devon with a
lot less attitude! What you see is what you get. We don't have
much hassle here, most surfers are pretty friendly, relaxed and
helpful but don't appreciate bus loads rocking up at sensitive
spots! Who does?
More localised info can be found on the website www.bbc.co.uk/surfingwales
Aka wounded gull - Local surfer/photographer/cake lover/prankster
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