South West

UK region

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Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly

Kernow was the birthplace of Britain’s surf culture, the place where Bilbo Surfboards, Gul Wetsuits and numerous fledgling companies first spread their wings. Due to the aspect of the coastline, this is one of the most consistent regions for surf in Britain.

The northern Cornish coast is rugged and crumbling due to the relentless onslaught of the North Atlantic, so the surfing is largely made up of beach breaks, with the odd nub of reef, myriad tiny coves and sweeping bays. Although the beaches do reach bursting point during the months of July and August, there are still a few places off the beaten track for those who are willing to explore. Breaks around St Agnes are crowded, ultra-competitive and home to powerful waves. Spots like Perran Sands, Godrevy and Gwithian have good waves and a mellower vibe. And Newquay is of course the epicentre of Cornish surfing and home to arguably one of the most famous UK surf spots, Fistral.

If you are seeking surf Meccas, head for North Devon’s Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton Sands. Dunes, sand and low tide madness all await the visitor. Croyde is a place where solid swells are translated into thick-lipped, hollow barrels that detonate onto waiting sandbanks, while round the headland Saunton’s rollers push eager longboarders hundreds of yards from way outback.

For such a large county, the north coast of Devon has a surprisingly small coastline. When you think of the number of excellent surfers it produces, the number of visitors it attracts and its influence within the UK surf scene, it is amazing to consider just how few breaks there are – a graphic illustration of how such a limited resource is coming under ever-increasing pressure. North Devon, unlike its Cornish neighbour, boasts a healthy mix of points, reefs and beaches. Croyde is the undeniable heart of the scene, geographically, culturally and in terms of numbers in the water. Putsborough, Saunton and Woolacombe have more room and a more chilled out vibe.

The south coast of Cornwall and Devon have many waves to rival those of the north. The jewel in the crown is the South West’s premiere reef, Porthleven. Here, 8ft barrels can unload, providing a gladiatorial arena for the regions best surfers. To the west, Praa Sands is an excellent beach break which is often heaving in winter northerlies while further east South Devon is home to bays and coves that light up in the depths of winter storms. Even Falmouth can come alive with waves on a solid easterly swell or monstrous south westerly.

South West Issues & Campaigns

Environmental and wave protection issues in this region

Rubbish Day Out

In early 2016 SAS's Education Team visited 16 Cornish schools, delivering the Be The Change Education Programme to over 2,000 school children. They delivered talks, assemblies and workshops but also challenged the schools to create Anti-Litter Action Plans. These were then presented to a judging panel at SAS's Rubbish Day Out at the Eden Project for the grand prize of 500 pounds to create the invention.

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Regional Coverage

With the expansion of the SAS Regional Reps Programme, the South West also experienced a growth in 2016. With an increased team of 46, these volunteers led 209 beach cleans, recruiting 1,765 like-minded individuals to remove 3.7 tonnes of marine litter. They also organised and ran 36 education talks throughout the year to various ages and audience types, sharing their passion and dedication for protecting the marine environment.

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Beach Clean Records

2016 was the biggest year for SAS beach cleans and the South West also experienced record breaking numbers. In total 226 beach cleans took place through the year with 19 tonnes of marine litter being removed by a 8,000-strong army of beach cleaners. These community volunteers also recycled over 10,000 single-use plastic bottles.

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