I am only now catching up on our post bank holiday adventures. With not the best weather forecast but an unbelievable swell predicted on Magic Seaweed, combined with offshore winds, we left our bank holiday stop on Sandbanks, Dorset (read the DimExcuses Beach Guide, Sandbanks here) and headed across England to Bude in Cornwall. We stayed at Hedley Wood Caravan & Camping park, which suited Molly due to it being an award wining dog friendly campsite. You can find their website here.
In the UK you can sometimes get disappointing predictions from what some refer to as the ‘Tragic Seaweed’ surf forecast website, but this time the magic was on form and on this ‘Big Tuesday’ the 6 to 10 foot swell materialised, combined with those rare offshore winds. Staying in Bude, we chose Summerleaze beach, a large beach break with plenty of room for surfers and swimmers. The lifeguards were calling the sets at 9 feet and there was talk of waiting for the tide to come into the harbor to ‘shave 3 feet of the waves’.
I didn’t get any good photos of the massive sets, as I was recklessly straight in the water at low tide. As you can imagine it was a tough paddle out and I only made two seriously late set waves, roller-coaster riding them in and trying to re-establish some grace on the reform. The rip currents were seriously strong too.
All these shots are taken on ‘Less Big Wednesday when the sets were more a consistent 4 to 6 feet, with that persistent offshore wind giving them that epic shape. Spot the black dots on the faces that are surfers! I went in on this day too, and it was a much better paddle out and ride. The rip currents had eased from the day before, apparently being a side effect of the massive amount of water that was moving around in the bay the day before.
Summerleaze has a seawater swimming pool that refills with new water every high tide. You can see the pool edge and steps in these shots that give the waves scale.
Returning to the campsite the holidaymaker children had all turned into entrepreneurs, hard selling loom band bracelets (the big craze with kids across the UK at the moment). They sold me this necklace for Molly. Here she is not too sure about it tucked up in the van.
It was hard to leave Bude and Cornwall, not just great beaches and surf, but fantastic surf shops, friendly people and out of this world Cornish pasties! Heading home we stopped off at Croyde Bay in Devon, referred to as Lorna Doone country, after the novel written by my great uncle* R. D. Blackmore. Here I am standing outside his house (*ancestry not legally proven…cough…ahem..).
I had stopped at Croyde Bay in the mid-nineties and I was amazed by how it had become so commercial and seemingly dominated by the massive caravan park. The caravan park own the beach now and have made it a dog ban beach. I was a bit disappointed and longed to return to the laid back, dog friendly surf haven of Bude. The village of Croyde is still lovely, and they had a craft market on which was nice to potter around. We found a cool little cafe by day and restaurant by night called Blue Groove, they have a website here. It was very modern and fresh, but not too cool that it couldn’t do us a proper Devon cream tea. While Sharon and our friends Ade & Nancy else enjoyed their cream tea, I went for a latte to save space for one more pastie, this time a Devon one. But seeing as Blue Groove have a range of syrups, I splashed out on a coconut syrup for my latte. I have been partial to a hazelnut or vanilla latte in the past, but this was new ground. When Sharon and our friends asked what I ordered, I proudly grinned as I said ‘coconut latte’ like some well travel coffee connoisseur. The waitress was equally excited as they had never done a coconut latte before. Unfortunately my invention didn’t pay off as it made the otherwise excellent latte taste burnt with no sweetness. Entirely my own fault they gave me what I asked for, the first and probably last ever coconut latte. But you have to try these things, DimExcuses.
Here is a gallery of our trip: