Welsh WaveGarden

If you surf you’ve probably seen the pics and videos that have been doing the rounds over the last couple of months of the WaveGarden in Snowdonia. Teaser shots of the wave had been released whilst it was still under construction and upon it’s opening day the internet was saturated with images from the place showing a pretty decent looking wave.

Speaking to my friend Harry we decided we had to have a crack at it, sorted a day when were both free and pre-booked an hours session down there one evening.

We decided to do the advanced wave and it was a good job we did. Whilst the intermediate was more of a knee high peeling wave, the advanced was genuinely shoulder high, not exactly the world’s most technical wave, but it looked fun.

It took us a couple of hours to drive down from Sheffield and we got there early so that we could check the place out and shot off some pictures:

IMG_20150811_194427

Was A Bit Of A Walk To Get This Shot, But It Gives A Great View Of The WaveGarden.

DSC_0079_V2

Close Up Of The Same Sponger.

DSC_0021_V2

Different Angle, The Wave Holds A Nice Shape.

DSC_0108_V2

Never Seen A Surfer With A Background Like This.

DSC_0125_V2

Plenty Of Time On The Wave  For Maneuvers.

DSC_0132_V2

Incredible Place To Surf.

We were due on the wave at 6 so we checked in at around 5. It’s a bit weird getting ready in changing rooms as opposed to a carpark but once we were ready we walked over to the briefing room. The staff were super friendly and explained the rules to us, took a couple of minutes, it’s not overly complicated. 3 people are in the advanced group and you take it in turns catching the wave. If you miss it or wipe out you go to the back of the queue!

Briefing over, we headed out into the pool…. waiting for my first wave was a very weird experience. The pool is flat and still, then you hear a small groan and the plow that generates the wave starts moving towards you and the wave just rises up out of nowhere! Very disconcerting at first but easy enough to get used to.

It’s probably more powerful than most of the beaches in the North East on anything but the most intense of swells, meaning each wave is nice and fast, as well as quite easy to catch. During my hour I caught all 12 waves that came my way and each one lasted between 15-20secs, better than I’ve had in Scarborough for a longtime!

I had my go-pro mounted on the board for the first few waves, but after a lifeguard told me the founder of go-pro had lost 2 cameras himself I left it on the shore as I fancied taking off later and pushing it a bit, highly likely to lead me to wipeout and lose my go-pro!

Harry 3

One Of The Stills From The Go-Pro.

A little longer than an hour would’ve been nice, but we got out of the pool pretty satisfied. 12 waves in an hour is good going, especially when they all peel smoothly I will definitely be heading back, just not for awhile as at £45 an hour, plus a full tank of petrol for a trip, it ain’t cheap!

Advertisements

East Coast Getaway

Both myself and Steph had a few days off towards the end of March but weren’t too sure what we wanted to do with them. Various ideas were floated, Norway looked like an option for awhile, as did various other European destinations. However, in a bid to save a bit of cash (big adventure in the pipeline for the end of the year) we decided to stay fairly local and rent a cottage.

A couple of hours looking online and ringing round later and I had one booked in the small village of Ebberston, close to Pickering, Whitby and Scarborough, a really great location for some walking and, if the weather was in my favour, some surfing.

The cottage I had found was lovely, in a really quiet area but had access to a swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as having a great wood burning fire. It ticked all the boxes for me, I enjoy swimming and any chance to play with fire. Steph was equally happy, mostly about the swimming, she’s not as big of a firebug as me.

20150326_191958_V2

Nice To Have A Fire On An Evening.

Our first full day started out quite overcast as we headed over to Pickering. It’s somewhere I have been a lot, but not since I was about 14/15 so it was good to have a wander round again. There are a couple of old second hand bookshops and it’s quite easy to lose a bit of time in those. With a few books bought we decided to move onto Goathland, famous as the setting for TV’s Heartbeat.

The weather wasn’t great on the way there, we stopped to eat some sandwiches overlooking the Hole Of Horcum but the rain meant we couldn’t really see all that much of it. As we parked up in Goathland the sun started to peek out, and it stayed relatively bright and warm for a couple of hours as we walked some of the trails along the old railway line.

The paths were really nice, taking you into the woods and dropping you down by small rivers, the highlight though was seeing some wild deer run by. They were super close, pretty much heading straight at us when they realised we were people and changed direction rapidly. About 15seconds after the near-deer crashing experience a dog bounded past after them, obviously the reason they were running.

DSC_0009_V2

Taken Before The Stampede.

DSC_0027_V2

Just Off The Beaten Track.

After spending most the afternoon walking we headed back to the cottage for a pre-dinner swim. It was a nice quiet evening spent watching films in front of the crackling fire, can’t complain at that.

An early start on Friday morning led us to Scarborough. Upon arrival the surf looked good but I decided to leave it a couple of hours before getting in to give the wind a chance to die down. We spent some time on the beach at South Bay before walking up into the town and doing a little shopping. I picked up some new fin socks to try and stop my feet freezing like they did the last time I paddled out.

By the time I got my wetsuit on the wind had died down a fair bit so it seems I made the right call. The waves were 2ft max, but still fun. Quite a few people were out but I still managed to get my fair share. It was my first time using the go pro too, so not having to do any duckdives or suffering any bad wipeouts was good for my confidence in it.

North Bay Selfie 1

I Had The Go Pro On Constant Video, This Is A Still Pulled From It.

DSC_0133_V2

DSC_0134_V2

Steph Was On Hand With The DSLR To Get Some Shots From Another Angle.

DSC_0094_V2

Really Like This Shot She Took.

After steady drive back and another pre-dinner swim we walked to the pub across the road from the cottage for dinner. It was a touch overpriced but really nice food so I can’t really complain there.

Saturday was our final day on the East Coast and we spent in Whitby with my parents and Steph’s mum (her Dad was working unfortunately). The sun was again out and we spent a few hours strolling up and down Whitby’s side streets before heading to a Fish & Chip restaurant by the pier for some food. The portion sizes were massive, my plaice was like 2 fish had been battered together. Safe to say I was full by the end of it.

All that was left to do was the steady drive home.

DSC_0148_V3

Steam Train From Pickering.

It’s Not Always Grim Up North

I’ve been a bit unmotivated on the surf front recently, only getting in the water once or twice since my trip to Morocco. Partly down to work, partly down to not having a wingman to surf with anymore I decided that as soon as I got the chance in the new year I would be on it. Only a few days in to January and I was loading my car up to chase a decent looking swell heading to Scarborough.

The journey is pretty much autopilot to me these days and was very uneventful, but the sun kept poking out and the wind didn’t seem too bad so all in all it was looking favorable. I pulled upto Cayton Bay first and walked to the headland, it looked to be about 3ft from the top but a bit messy and inconsistent, but still there was surf! I watched a few sets but decided to check the town beaches before committing.

South Bay was almost flat, maybe 1ft, 1.5ft max so I carried on round to North Bay where some nice shoulder high waves were breaking. The crowd was probably close to 30 people, a lot for January, but the waves were breaking in a few separate places allowing the crowd to spread. I rattled off a fair few shots before biting the bullet and getting suited up myself (whilst downing a coffee for warmth).

North Bay 2

North Bay 6

North Bay 7

North Bay 8

 

The pictures show just how good the waves were, what they can’t show is just how cold it was. Paddling out took a fair bit of effort and once I’d made it past the breakers I had a few minutes to recover and have a look for the best place to catch a wave. I was only out for around 45mins – 1hr and probably caught 2 waves, I’d seriously over-estimated how warm my fin socks were (turns out 3mm just doesn’t cut it in Jan). However the waves I got were good, with a bit of power behind them, and it was nice to be out in the water again, even if it wasn’t for long.

By the next swell I should have my new Go Pro mounted to my board to give you a spongers eye view of some chocolate brown Scarborough surf.

Summer Surf

So the surf on the East side of the country has been absolutely pumping for most of summer, something that doesn’t happen all that often, even in deepest winter. Social media has been full of forecasts, predictions, status’s and most of all photographic evidence of all the sessions that have gone down, so here’s mine:

DSC_0537_V2

Longboarder At South Bay.

DSC_0564_V2

Shortboarder At North Bay.

DSC_0640_V2

No-one Out. Not Scarborough.

These pics show the great diversity the North East has in surf, and they were all taken on the same day. Unfortunately, as much as I would’ve liked to stay in Scarborough most of the summer I’ve had to work, and my days off have usually coincided with the rare flat days. So when a chart was showing promise I was up at 5.30am and made the most of it. The end result; totally worth getting up for.

Two Swell Days

January has been a pretty great month for surf almost worldwide, hardly a day goes by without news of some form of big swell appearing on the usual social media outlets, with videos and pictures appearing hours after the swell has vanished.

Places such as Jaws, Mavericks, Belharra, Nazare and Mullaghmore have been featured in the mainstream media, Instagram and Twitter have gone mad with uploads, and the live webcast of the comp at Mavericks was the talk of all the mags websites. Basically there’s been a lot of quality surf to be had.

Personally it’s always a bit of a mission, combined with blind luck to get good surf. I work 5 days a week so for either of my days of to coincide with good swell is rare, however, so far this January the East Coast has been pumping pretty much every week with most days offering up some sort of wave, so I’ve been able to get in twice, scoring great waves both times!

The first session I scored was the 11th Jan, the forecast had been looking good all week and I intended to get there early to miss any crowds, but after a few beers the night before I overslept and didn’t get to Scarborough till about 1. A quick drive round showed that the tide was too high for North and South Bay, leaving Cayton as the only option.

DSC_0042

Not A Bad Option.

With it been the only place surfable the crowd was pretty big, around 40 people, meaning it was pretty much impossible to get a peak to yourself, still the waves were consistent and by sitting a bit shallower than the stand-ups I managed to pick off a few of the ones that had slipped them by. My thoughts on my new board were also confirmed, it’s fast! I could get a lot more speed down the line, letting me make sections that I’d not been able to before.

Unfortunately I’ve not got any shots of this session as I travelled solo, and I was keen to get in so didn’t really shoot any other surfers either, just this parting shot after a great session:

insta k10

Post Surf.

My next day off also coincided with some swell, and this time I had a photographer on board, Steph had the day off work too so we made the trip upto Scarborough.

When I’d been in December with Mike, we had seen some people surfing a break we didn’t know about, so after a bit of Google Maps detective work I think I’ve found it, so myself and Steph parked as close as we could and went for a walk to explore it. It’s a nice looking peak, breaking on a rock bottom, the waves looked good but there was no way I was surfing a new spot completely on my own, so we took some pics and headed off to North Bay.

I’m really lucky to have a girlfriend who doesn’t mind standing on the seafront in questionable weather conditions, camera in hand, whilst I go surf for an hour. She managed to get some great shots of me:

JP North Bay Entrance

Walking Down To The Beach.

JP North Bay 1

Shoulder High And Fun.

JP North Bay 2

Nice and Clean.

I had a great session, I caught a few really good waves and the water wasn’t too cold, it did sting a bit doing duckdives though.  There was probably only 10 or so people out, with 3 defined peaks meaning there were plenty of waves to go around, always a bonus.

Steph also managed to grab a few decent shots of the local surfers:

North Bay 3

North Bay 5

Good Waves Were Had By All. 

Hopefully this run of good swell will continue and some of the more less known spots will come to life. Fingers crossed!

Cayton Point

A pretty decent groundswell hit the North East coast this week, it’d been hyped up on Facebook and Magic Seaweed for a few days prior so all those keen enough had a few days to get the excuses in to skive work or abandon spouses.

Myself and Mike headed up on Monday afternoon, but the journey took a little longer than expected and by the time we got there the Sun was starting to set. We headed over to one of the more low key spots just to have a nosey before dark and were surprised to see several vans parked up, a couple of surfers walking up and about 5 in the water surfing the seemingly playful point until the Sun disappeared.

With the point working and the swell looking good for the next day we had a quiet evening and an early night, although, sleeping in the back of a van is never exactly ideal the night before a surf!

We woke up and could see waves at Ravenscar beach, a rarity, so headed into Scarborough to check out the bays. With a tea in hand we watched nice waves at North Bay, but the tide was wrong so it would’ve been sketchy at the least with the backwash off the wall. South was mellower but still had nice sets running through, leaving a lot of hope pinned to Cayton Bay.

After parking up I grabbed my camera and we decided to head down to the beach to get a proper look at the waves, it wasn’t perfect but a quick glance at the point revealed a few surfers out and some fairly clean lines heading in. We headed over straight away for a better look but the tide prevented a straight path there, meaning an exhausting run upto the cliff tops, through the woods and back down a pretty treacherous path.

The waves looked about shoulder height and totally makeable, stark contrast to the usual waves of consequence associated with the point. However as we got there it started to die off, making a run back to the car (which would’ve taken around an hour to get changed and back down with boards) seem pointless, so we just watched and I snapped off a few pics.

DSC_0029_V4

Cayton Point, From The Cliffs.

DSC_0164_V2

An Empty One Rolls Through.

DSC_0184_V2

Dropping Into A Mellow One.

 

After watching such nice waves at the Point we were frothing for a surf, unfortunately North Bay was like a zoo and South wasn’t much better, but I fancied my chances of grabbing a few clean set waves at South more so we suited up and went in.

The session wasn’t anything special, a few good waves came through, but next time I see a hint of swell on the Point I might just head there instead!

 

Chasing The Summer Sun

Towards the end of September myself and Steph headed over to Portugal for a week of sunbathing, surfing and good times. The weather forecast looked good, the temps set to be high, and swell on the way…. all of the ingredients for a great week away.

After a pretty tedious flight we grabbed our stuff and had possibly the smoothest airport transfer ever, our pre-arranged taxi to the hostel was waiting, taking away any bus/train hassle that I’d originally foreseen.

We checked in at Sagres Natura Surf Camp, and as we were being shown round it became obvious we’d picked some great accommodation. The staff were super friendly and helpful, and the whole vibe of the place seemed great, something you just don’t get at big chain hotels.

993711_10152253902198065_1204222890_nOur Room Was Just Above The Surf Camp Sign

We were staying in the small town of Sagres, which was quite quiet and relaxed. There was only really one main street which had a handful of shops, restaurants and bars, but what more do you need? The town had two main beaches, at either side of a headland, giving different options for where to surf and catch some sun.

DSC_0997

 

The Sun Setting At Tonel Beach. 

 

My favourite of the two beaches was Tonel, it was a longer walk from town but picked up a lot more swell, pretty much the main thing I want from a beach. We’d head down there most days and just chill out, with Steph topping up her tan and me mostly spending my time in the sea.

On a couple of occasions I even managed to persuade Steph to rent a wetsuit and board and come get a few waves with me. It was awesome fun pushing her into waves, and to her credit she didn’t back out on anything I told her to go for, the look of stoke on her face after was awesome!

Photo04_1A

Heading Out For Some Waves.

 

After a long day at the beach the town offered up some great eating options, with all sorts of delicious food available. We ate in most of the restaurants that week, but my favourite was “Mum’s”, a cosy little place that did the freshest seafood I’ve ever had.

1377094_10152253901358065_1760492014_n

Super Fresh Tuna Steak.

 

1377137_10152253901373065_1288512_n

Sampling The Local Beer, ‘Sagres’. 

 

Every place we ate in town did great food, if it wasn’t for all the surfing and swimming I’m pretty sure we would’ve both come back a little rounder than when we went.

Meal times in Portugal tend to last longer than back in England, so after a few hours of good food and beer it was usually off to bed to be ready for more of the same. Except on one night where the town bars were open so we headed out for drinks with some people from the hostel, a great experience you just don’t at hotels. We spent the night talking story with new faces, drinking beers and generally been amazed at the bartenders mixing skills.

It was a great week, that unfortunately came to an end all too soon. Our last day was spent chilling on the beach, catching as much sun as possible before heading to dreary England.

993410_10152253905118065_1899126900_n

Making The Most Of The Last Day.