In October 2008 Dave Parmenter, Claudia Parmenter and Ted Rutherford came over from the US to spend some time exploring and stand up paddle surfing in the UK. Ted Rutherford has chronicled the trip for us. The second part takes them around Bude, Newquay, Caehray Beach and Sennen Cove.
After an overnight on the beautiful town of Barnstaple, Mission Commander “Uncle Dave” aimed the VW south to the town of Bude, where we witnessed some closed-course kayak racing in a waterway creating by holding back the tide with wooden locks, a full 25 feet above the low tide level! Below, Dave and Claudia watch the racing and below, right are the handmade oak locks holding in the high-tide water!
Bude’s beaches and coves have a plethora of potential surf and paddle set-ups; while we were there, we observed a hearty bunch of folks learning to surf in the shorebreak:
Back on the road we stopped at the alleged birthplace of King Arthur: Tintagel Castle. Our arrival coincided with a rain squall and gale-force wind that ended up closing the castle, though we were still able to make the approach to the ruins. There is a nice little cove between the castle hill and the opposing hill, which Uther Pendragon rode across on the dragon’s breath while disguised as Duke Gorles of Tintagel (Igraines husband) on his way to his fateful meeting with her that resulted in the conception of King Arthur (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth 1139). This cove is a perfect place from which to launch on SUPs! Below are some of the shots of this headland and cove:
A short time later we rolled into Surf City UK: Newquay, a picturesque town on the west coast of Cornwall. Situated on a headland with two main beaches, Fistral Beach is a little south of town and is the main beach; there are many surf schools, surfshops and board rental stands there. Below is the view of the south end of Fistral:
The tide was low at Fistral and the waves were a bit blown out. At the north end of the Fistral beach is a big wave spot known as The Cribber. C4 Team rider, Adam Zervas was one of the first to stand-up paddle this spot:
To the north of the headland and the Cribber is the town’s harbor, where the wind was blowing side-offshore. Tim Mellors and Adam Zervas were out enjoying the clean conditions on their stand-up paddle boards when we arrived. Dave, Claudia and I checked out Tim Mellor’s Longboard House surf shop and met some of the great blokes working there; below left is Dave with Lee and Max. Below on the right, Tim “Kong” Mellors returns from his afternoon constitution.
After a much-needed rest at the home of Helen, Jordan and Adam Zervas, we awoke to strong onshore winds. Adam said this would be “no problem, as we will head to the south and it will be offshore…” So we hooked up with British surf photographer Geoff Tydeman (also a steward for British Airways), Tim Mellors and Adam Zervas and headed southwest through beautiful country roads and farmland.
As our convoy rounded the famous ancient gardens of Burncoose and descended to the beach our host told to “check out the castle on the right”: (located top left in the Google Earth photo above); Claudia Parmenter exclaimed that “…it looked like “Disneyland!!!” Below, Adam points out Caehray Castle, which has been owned by the Williams Family since 1715!
Sure enough, it was a real theme park of great waves, beautiful beaches and headlands not unlike the USA’s Pacific Northwest. The air was cool, the wind offshore, and the water relatively warm at approximately 58 degrees. The following photos were taken by Geoff Tydeman (www.panoramio.com) and are used with his permission:
Dave and Tim lead the crew past the Gates of Caehray Castle (Photo: Geoff Tydeman)"
We wasted no time getting to the lineup; Dave paved a way to out in a channel next to the rocks. The group stayed clear of the other surfers and we were able to catch left-breaking waves out off the slate-stone reef.
The paddle-out was fun and challenging, Ted pops over (Photo: Geoff Tydeman)
Claudia on a nice little one for herself! (photo: Geoff Tydeman)
BK of the UK, Adam Zervas (photo: Geoff Tydeman)
Dave overstressing wing spars on the 10’6”on a nice little wave for himself (photo: Geoff Tydeman)
Ted (photo: Geoff Tydeman)
Tim "Kong" Mellors wins the heat on the Great-Pumpkin (photo: Geoff Tydeman)
Dave Parmenter off the tip on a nice one (Geoff Tydeman photo)
When I asked Dave how he would sum the experience at Caehray’s, he was speechless, and offered a “Popish” gesture of Euphoria:
The expressions on Tim’s and Claudia’s faces reveal the satisfaction and joy of the English après surf.
That evening Helen Zervas treated the C4 crew to a traditional English Sunday Roast, consisting of roast beef, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding---the most needed and best tasting we had while in England!
Monday, 8 October we again proceeded south through such lovely little fishing villages as St Ives (remember the shampoo), Penzance (end of the line for the British Rail line), and finally ending up at Land’s End. It was a bit stormy, so after some Irish coffee and a light breakfast we were ready to try a new spot that we had been told had never been SUP-ed before. It was a large granite reef almost a mile offshore and looked to have a sporty left breaking off of the north end. The beach at Sennen Cove is spectacular in that the sand is soft, decomposed granite that runs out for hundreds of yards. The “granite sand” gives the water a translucent blue-green color when the sun shining.
We paddled out to the mystery reef and discovered that it was a bit more challenging than we had thought. By long held custom: he who rides the first wave usually names the new spot. It looked like Tim Mellors was going to get the naming rights, but, discretion being the better part of valor; he aborted out of his takeoff roll. Dave ended up getting first blood and displayed his experience for shallow rocky reefs that are the staple of the Central Coast of California. See Matt Argyle’s article about the spot at: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Sennon Cove. Below are Dave and Tim; bottom picture is Adam.
After a few near misses with the reef and some nice juicy take-offs for ourselves, we moved in to join Claudia in the beautiful beach-break off Sennen Cove. The offshore wind freshened as tide helped push up the nice waist-high swell:
Tim goes large on the Great Pumpkin
After three hours in the water, the crew stripped off their wetsuits and made their pilgrimage to Land’s End in a cold wet rain to experience the English version of Manifest Destiny. “Land’s End, Ho!” in the distance behind Adam, Dave and Claudia:
The next day I started my journey home, back to family, responsibility, and flying for a living. It was with heavy heart that I left our friends, Adam “BKoftheUK”, his wife Helen, son Jordan, Tim “Kong” Mellors, and all the lovely British people that we had met. Dave and Claudia stayed on another week and ended up scoring very large surf in the Newquay area. I strongly encourage all to visit this wonderful land of courteous, kind, and skillful waterfolk. Thanks, Adam and Tim for taking care of us wayward Yanks!
Read Part One