Whitby, North Yorkshire
Whitby may be famous for its gothic associations with all things Dracula, but this picturesque town on the Yorkshire coast also boasts some of England’s best surfing real estate. And with most of the north-east’s surfers drawn to the nearby resorts of Scarborough and Saltburn, Whitby remains a little-known destination.
While families enjoy ice creams and donkey rides by Whitby’s harbour wall, surfers head westward from the town for the three miles of pink-tinged sands that stretch all the way to Sandsend – with the potential for wave-riding along its length.
On sunny days, small waves are perfect for longboarders who dance along their 9ft Malibus. In larger swells, the powerful waves can rival anything in Cornwall – except for the number of surfers in the water.
The magic of this experience is not limited to the quality of the surf or the lack of crowds – sitting in the line-up, waiting for the next wave, you are also treated to haunting views of Whitby Abbey. And every day ends with a proper fish supper.
From the inland arterial route of the A64, the Pickering Road crosses the North Yorkshire Moors and filters into town at Love Lane, delivering you to the shoreline.
Eating and drinking
The Magpie Café on Pier Road (01947 602085) serves impeccable fish and chips.
Exploring the North York Moors, including the vast natural amphitheatre of the Hole of Horcum just off the A169 road leading into Whitby.
Brandon Bay, Dingle, Ireland
The Dingle Peninsula in south-west Ireland is famous for its picture-perfect scenery. Dingle itself is no less idyllic, with brightly painted cottages and warm, welcoming pubs.
For a surfer, the attractions of the area are also clear. The Atlantic Ocean has created a rugged and complex coastline, with bays and beaches linked by narrow country lanes, fringed by a mass of red fuchsias. These winding tracks weave down to coves of golden sand, lapped by waters that would rival any Caribbean location for sheer translucent beauty.
Though summer months see Europe’s surf potential diminish, the horseshoe sweep of Brandon Bay, north of Dingle, hoovers up any passing Atlantic swell, making it one of the British Isles’ best bets for scoring waves.
Sweeping tides sculpt the sandbars where peeling walls break in crystalline perfection, while out on the eastern end lies Garywilliam Point, a right-breaking reef where hollow barrels peel over shallow rocks – a challenge for even the best surfers.
That Ireland is home to world-class waves is no longer a surprise – Bundoran and Easkey in the north west already draw the elite – but the sleepy villages of Dingle have kept a lower profile. Push out and explore – this, after all, is the spirit of surfing – and you may find some hidden gems.
At the base of Dingle Peninsula lies Kerry Airport, which is well served by Ryanair with regular flights from Luton, Stansted and Dublin.
Eating and drinking
The Global Village, Upper Main Street, 00353 66 9152325 for local seafood.
A trip to the nearby Blasket Islands, home to puffins, gannets and guillemots and the beautiful Tra Ban (White Strand) beach; www.dinglebaycharters.com
Demi Taylor is the author of ‘Surfing Britain & Ireland’ and ‘Adventure Britain’ (Footprint Travel Guides)