Surfing in the UK: Very Good Britain

Great means big but sometimes it means great! Nic von Rupp lives in Portugal but goes on holiday to England! Photo: Al Mackinnon

What is it?

Great Britain is made up of 6,289 islands, the biggest one containing about 99.99% of its 60 million population. Being an island nation, folk are never more than about an hour or so from the sea, be it the Atlantic, English Channel, North Sea or Irish Sea. Being located in the path of the bulk of Atlantic depressions, sunny days tend to be more a sunny couple of hours, before the next front comes to town with big fluffy clouds, then clears up, and so on. Inhabitants speak mainly English, which allows Scandinavians to communicate with the Chinese, and is thus one of Britain’s great gifts to the human race. The Greenwich Meridian (line of zero longitude and also zero hour in time) runs through London, which furthers the natives’ notion that they are the centre of the universe. Britons are currently the fattest people in Europe, and breed youngest.

The Coast

Surfing in the UK varies from often awesome to generally shit, depending on where. Scotland: North coast has amazing waves in the form of slabs, reefs and points, the E Coast of England gets really good and is home to some of the finest reefs in the land, but is generally flat and freezing cold. The south coast is home to wind chop and 3 sec period swells, while SW England heralds the more famous and crowded breaks, which are generally forgettable-quality beaches in beautiful scenery. Wales is a combination of all the above. Tides are generally big (up to 11m!) and the water varies from cold in summer to freezing cold in winter, with the exception being the North Sea, which is freezing year-round.

An unidentified Rosbif whittles away the downtime before tonight’s 12 pints of lager/kebab/fight in a taxi queue main event. Photo: Al Mackinnon


Britons are a curious bunch. Generally, they are friendly, but fight when drunk. They are prolific at making popular music, drive on the left, like fried food and are obsessed with celebrity. The biggest celebrity is a German woman named Queen Elizabeth II who the locals go all silly for. At war with most of the rest of (Pope worshipping) Europe since medieval times, Britons today are less than pious, and it is estimated more Britons take ecstasy in nightclubs on Saturday nights than go to church on Sunday mornings. When they are not making music, worshipping celebrities, eating fried food or taking E’s, they turn to sports, which they are great at inventing, less so at playing… until this summer that is!

Surf Culture

While Britain has the oldest surf scene in Europe (two Hawaiian princes surfed Bridlington in Yorkshire in 1890 thus predating the rest of Europe by a good half century) the others have since very much caught up. In England at least, a fish or longboard is highly recommended, as is the pub, as is, for good surf, Ireland.

‘Full English’ breakfast 3 times a day
Litre unleaded 95:
£1.35 (1.60€)
Their hero:
Harry Potter
Useful expression:
“No I haven’t had anything to c*nt, Drinkstable”
On average, London gets less than half the annual rainfall of Sydney, Australia.

Al Mackinnon is one of Britain’s finest, and sexiest surf photogs. Adore his facebook page here

Learning to surf? You can read more on UK surf destinations perfect for learning here.


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