London Calling... You A Cunt
Getting the Tube everyday rather than getting tubed? Try our guide of where to surf near London
Some very fine folk call London home. Sherlock, Dangermouse, you, presumably... and we’re sure there’re others. There must be.
So you find yourself not just landlocked, but London-locked.
Sure, you’ve tried to remain upbeat about the quality of cultural distractions, mitigating your lack of stoke with boasts of cutting edge entertainment, arts, fashion, cuisine and so on.
You drink shade-grown organic Rwandan espresso and eat sourdough crumpets for breakfast, ‘vibrant’ street food for lunch. And how you earn! Perhaps best yet, your Tinder is bubbling hot.
But none of this masks the reality that you live in a village of 10 million people, and no waves. The reality is your tubes are District & Circle line (the best one), and that hurts.
Surely, you’re in need a wee coastal excursion.
Illustration by linguistine.com
How: Take the M25 then M20 or M2, probably.
Why: If it’s good enough for Tracey Emin, JMW Turner and The Tate… oh never mind.
What’s The Surf Like? Awful
Danny Burrows, former Editor of Onboard Magazine turned his back on a life of Alpine powder utopia for Kentish stoke. He (probably) said, “Deal is the real Deal."
Sure, the sea is kinda frigid brown-grey, and muddy, but if it’s good enough for Tracey Emin, JMW Turner and The Tate… oh never mind. One of my least-favourite favourite childhood memories is of me and my brother trying to paddle in the muddy shallows of low tide Margate beach at a time of year widely held as being 'summer', and me being scared of putting my bare tootsies on all the worms everywhere. “They’re not worms, they’re just the casts the worms have passed through their bodies" admonished Mum. ‘OH WELL THAT’S JUST FINE THEN!’
How: Down the M23 to shred Cunts Corner, M3 for Bournemouth
Why: Quadraphenia, paleontology
What’s The Surf Like? Kinda Shitty to Actually Semi Not Bad-ish
Brighton is home to a terrible quality, yet brilliantly-named surf spot called Cunts’ Corner, next to the pier. Further west, the Witterings (Honolua), offer occasional serviceable mush that bumps past swell-blocking Isle of Wight (Oahu). Then there’s Bournemouth and even Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, which has both (OK) surfing and (better) fossil hunting on its day.
Weather-wise, if it's blowing SW moderately fierce to ferocious for a day or two, there might be lines of whitewater to wiggle sort of across. Our advice is to surf it on a still-ish morning after a night of wind. And then occasionally, you'll even get groundswells that strut their sexy way up the channel oh so fleetingly.
Bournemouth even has an artificial reef, as tested by disgraced former SE web guy/banned by the WSL Ben Mondy (see below).
How: In a motor car, head north out of London on the M11, then veer east at a suitable junction towards Norwich. From there you’ll be within an hour of all surfable beaches on the Norfolk coast. The Suffolk spots around Lowestoft are slightly closer — leave London via the A12.
Why: “In Cornwall there’s pasties, in Yorkshire there’s pud, / But my mother’s dumplings are Norfolk ’n’ good." There is no such compelling reason to visit Suffolk.
What’s The Surf Like? Better than Kent... Although that’s a bit like saying getting non-consensually fisted is better if they’re not wearing a diver's watch.
“Very flat, Norfolk," is the verdict delivered in Private Lives, Noel Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners. And yet in Jane Austen’s Emma, Cromer is held to be “be the best of all the sea-bathing places". With whom are we to side? Reasonable sea-bathing can indeed be had along the Norfolk coast when a north or east swell’s bearing down on it, 6-7 second periods often yielding surprisingly good results. But these swells are rare; your other option round these parts, Suffolk, stutters to life on the fleeting south swells generated by local winds.
Better than Kent... Although that’s a bit like saying getting non-consensually fisted is better if they’re not wearing a diver's watch.
How: Point the wagon north, keep going till nearly Scotland!
Why: It’s London’s antithesis: Whereas London is surfless and pretty much everyone’s an asshole, the NE has good waves and folk are highly approachable.
What’s The Surf Like? Like a Snow Leopard - Cold, rare, but good.
Yorkshire, Tyneside, Northumberland, are the North East's surf zones. It's frightfully cold all year, but home to really really good surf occasionally, including England’s best wave - you know the one. A strong drive to get up and if you do go on a swell, which you’ll certainly want to, the left might well be ram-a-jam-jam. But by golly, it’s good.
The South West
What’s The Surf Like? Like a vegetarian bowel movement. Regular, often, bit soft but kinda fun at the time.
How: M4/M5 or M3/A303 (more on this fascinating debate below)
Why: Best bet for actually rideable surf
Your best bet for playing the percentages. Sure, not necessarily the life-changiest beachbreaks but Britain’s most consistent and relatively balmy surf coast, and jolly scenic to boot. If you’ve only got a rare surf window, are sure you wanna go chasing maybes on fetch-less shelf seas? Or just point the vehicle SW and keep going till you smell pasty.
Like a vegetarian bowel movement. Regular, often, bit soft but kinda fun at the time
If you’ve oft wondered whether M4/M5 or M3/A303, well haven’t we all. Option A is faster but touch longer and more boring, B means more going round roundabouts, two lanes merging into one and thus potential for snare ups, but offers Stonehenge views.
Snoop Dogg drove from London to Newquay, got high but didn't surf. Which may well've been the better option at the time...
Why: If Gavin & Stacy’s relationship can overcome the M4, so can your shred.
What’s The Surf Like? Kind of a combination of all the above
The best thing about going to Wales is (a) you’re surfing in a foreign country and b) the motorway runs real close to the dap. The slightly outrageous part is the French’ll sting you £6.60 to get in (but nothing to leave!), which is kinda like the opposite of one of those Portuguese nightclubs where it’s free to get in (they give you a swipe card) but real expensive when you want to leave. In fact, the entire Welsh experience is probably nothing like a Portuguese nightclub… let’s move on.
She cops a bit less swell than Kernow thanks, but boasts much better castles, rugby, (and now) footie, own language/separatist movement plus more genuine hate for the English bastard. What a package!