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Home Forums Windsurf Forums General Windsurf Chat Where in the UK …

This topic contains 14 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  billyboy 9 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #57418

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    I think this question may have been discussed on the old boards forum, but … If you could move anywhere in the UK for a beach orientated family lifestyle where would you go?

    This is an ‘ideal world’ question putting issues like work, affordability to one side for a moment. The criteria are :

    – 15-20 mins to beach it can be part of your daily routine, taking the kids after school etc
    – 15-45 mins to good wave sailing, ideally a few different beaches that pick up proper groundswell
    – good primary & secondary schools
    – country / village living. not too isolated, but not too suburban
    – nearish (20-40 mins) to a moderate sized town for cinema, shops etc

    Top three options currently are :

    Kent – where would you choose to live with good access to Camber?

    Dorset – Christchurch, Mudeford, Highcliffe etc? to sail Avon, Branksome, Kimmeridge etc or further west?

    Cornwall – THE DREAM! We have spent a lot of time around Daymer, Marazion, Gwitian and love it there (who doesn’t). I suspect where people go on holiday and where real life happens are a bit different though. Where are the best bits to actually live?

    Tiree – nuff said!



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    West Cornwall. Not sure there is any debate is there?

    Compared to your alternatives you have reliable groundswell (so you can surf if its not windy) and water and air temps stay reasonable year round. Beaches for all wind directions all close together. Beautiful scenery. The list goes on

    No contest in an “ideal world!!”

    Obviously the biggest problem in the real world is availability of work…


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    Tiree. End of!

    Windiest place in the UK. Loads of beaches facing every direction all within 15 minutes or so (I’ve sailed from 10 of them), 3 maybe 4 are serious surf beaches, not much to get in the way of the wind, no crowds, no crime and it’s warm all year (well it doesn’t get much snow anyway!)


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    I’ve been quite well served here in Kent, Cambers half an hour away but don’t bother these days as it’s so crowded and lots of muppets with string attached to them. Wind in the North then there’s always Joss, Minnis and the land of two heads and six fingers. Handy for that Lunnon 45 minutes to centre of town and and hour or two, to Paris, Brussels through the Tunnel. French snow slopes are a 7 hour drive, so you can kind of view it as living in the Centre of Europe from the British perspective. Back in the day we used to go wave sailing in France, Wimereux places like that breakfast on the Ferry was always cool.
    Schools are all OK plus we still have Grammars but the local Academies have upped their game and there’s a fair no of private schools if you can afford them. Would I live elsewhere, I’ve never cared for the Cornish attitude to incomers and lets face it there’s more culture in a yoghurt for the sake of a few waves that are not necessarily that much better than can be found round here on the day, plus the climate up here is definitely sunnier and drier. Norfolk and it’s coast have always tempted me, but they are also a little ‘Britain in the fifties’ up there which has become more attractive of late slower pace does inevitably beckon with age.


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    I will only comment on what I know about: which is Dorset. Combination of Avon, Christchurch harbour, Branksome and the other launches on the beach + Poole harbour gives lots of options for proper windsurfing but also kids having fun / learning water stuff in a safe environment. K Bay for if you are good and when it works, Weymouth if you get into speed or foiling or competition. Serious ground swell will be rare. Fairly vibrant Team 15/Zone Squad windsurf stuff going on if your kids get into it (Poole and Weymouth). Plenty of windsurfers and shops. Access to big conurbation with everything kids/teens/adults could want + New Forest or over the Poole harbour chain ferry for some nature. Pretty good access to Heathrow and Gatwick for holidays, and London if you need it by train quickly, and almost on national Motorway network for reasonable access anywhere for visiting/friends and family etc..

    Downsides mainly about traffic – and parking in summer……. which could be a big factor if you really want to live in a village and drive in.

    I would love to live in Cornwall or Tiree in theory, but in practice family (and me probably) couldnt cope with the isolation


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    You might want to add the cost of housing to your criteria. The cost of housing around Poole is ridiculous compared to the average local wage, due to just about being a commutable distance to London. £2 an hour for parking at Sandbanks/Branksome. £110 for a season ticket for Poole residents, £500 non-residents. As Smidge said, the traffic and parking is bad in summer, and is going to get worse as they are building 100’s of new flats and houses in the area.

    For waves, Cornwall, for freeriding then Dorset. Around Poole you can get a decent sail in every wind direction apart from NNW-NNE when it gets really gusty/iffy. The tidal range is just 2m maximum, so thats ok as well. There is wave sailing to be had but not anything like as good or consistent as Cornwall.


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    Many many years ago I was a student in Cornwall. I lived in Portreath and Redruth. Much as I love it down there and return every Easter, I wouldn’t recommend either in the depths of winter. Truro or Falmouth would be better I’d guess. Be wary of going right down the end.. Sennen has a cracking beach but it’s covered in sea mist for half the year.
    Isle of Wight may be the secret spot I’ve always thought about. Theoretically somewhere to sail from every wind direction, relatively cheap and more accessible to rest of UK if you need it.


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    For wind Brighton, camber and the Bristol channel area, particularly S Wales are easily the most consistent. (14 days in S Wales this August with nothing bigger than a 5.8. I missed a few days too).

    All of the above have significant local topography that accelerates w/SW wind.

    For down the line wave Sailing Cornwall must be up there, but nothing like as reliable for wind. So you’d have to like surfing too.
    W Wales and the Gower are nearly as good as Cornwall but with the added advantage of being close to S Wales ‘thermal’ beaches.

    I have lived in Dorset too. Great for free riding and waves when it’s properly windy but no extra topographical boost and the waves are really only any good at Kimmeridge or when it’s nuking.

    So overall S Wales has it. Consistent summer wind AND waves. With access to the Gower and W Wales.

    For reference I’ve lived in Dorset, Bristol (access to S Wales) and London (access to Brighton). So have sailed all these places hundreds of times over the last 38 years I’ve been windsurfing.


    paddy 1ow
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    Isle of Wight will do ok on most counts. I’m within 20 mins of 5 beaches, & a tidal estuary. 45 mins will get me to most places I might want to go. Ground swell is a bit rare, but better than most places east of the west country. We also get swells from the east (secret spots!)

    The Solent is often windy on Summer sea breeze days, if the tide is right, & in places there can be standing waves. Not for the faint hearted!

    There is access to southern England, though the ferry services are expensive, & increasingly unreliable (They had their Concord moment about 20 years ago. Wightlink!)

    Schools are a bit of a worry, but it’s a great place to bring up kids as there is so much space & things to do, if you put any parental effort in.


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    I’ve only sailed the IOW once, and I forget which beach. It was great. The one when you swim to the wind wave line. It was much more like a Wales / Cornwall experience.


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    Surrey, especially Guildford.

    Great town, with vibrant social scene and excellent facilities.
    South coast is 1 hour away and there are a huge number of options.
    Kent and Dorset are 2 hours away.
    Devon is 3 hours and Cornwall and Wales are 4.
    All drive times are typical early and late, weekend out of season which is typically when I go.

    I have lived by the beach but found it very limiting.
    The ability to go to your beach is ok, but it seems to limit other options. I prefer the diversity and travelling is a small price to pay.


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    Good thread. Lots of wisdom. Hard won!!
    Priorities and compromises. Cake and eat it.
    ” Beach lifestyle” kind of implies living near a nice beach. Hove/Brighton don’t score in my book for nice but you learn to appreciate the benefits and even appreciate the urban backdrop for sailing. But photogenic not really compared to the joys of Cornwall. I hate driving so 99% of my sailing is Hove. I get plenty. Plus mountain biking on the Downs. And the buzz of Brighton. Good place for four kids to grow up.
    My wife grew up in Cornwall, she could not wait to leave…… We go down three times a year at least and on a good day you can’t beat it. But keep it for holidays.
    If money was no object the villages around Chichester would tempt me. West Wittering, Hayling and Pagham. The scenery is gorgeous on the Downs and Chichester harbour for boat sailing (Yacht or dinghy/ kayak/SUP) .


    paddy 1ow
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    “The one when you swim to the wind wave line. It was much more like a Wales / Cornwall experience.”

    Sounds like Niton/ Reef bay.


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    Thanks all, great responses. Really helpful!

    interesting points on the topographical differences / wind along the south coast. I sail all along from kent to dorset and pick and choose my days to suit so am less aware of it I guess.

    useful insights into the day to day realities too, thank you – eg summer traffic, parking costs, house prices in Dorset and the fact that a lot of other people have worked out it’s a good all round bet.

    South Wales and IOW interesting options. Maybe we need to think more about Brighton, Chichester Surrey options. I think I’d rather have waves and no wind, than wind and no waves these days which is why i was leaning westwards.

    “Priorities and compromises. Cake and eat it.” sums it up! our conversations go roughly :

    “let’s move to Cornwall, it’s the dream! it’s too remote, Dorset makes more sense. it’s too expensive, how about Kent? but what about cornwall” and round and round and round …

    • This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by  copek.

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    I like Rod’s South Wales option with access to consistent-ish groundswell in pembs and summer thermals further east.

    Cornwall isn’t really windy in summer, but that wouldn’t bother me as I’d be happy to surf/sup etc. Winter and early spring is when cornwall shines compared to other areas as its just so much warmer!

    Not sure I would go with PK’s option of Guildford from a windsurfing perspective – when you have to drive for 2hrs minimum for a session you need at least 4hrs free to get on the water. That is a lot of time to find if you have kids!

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