North Coast of Devon and Cornwall
Best months:
September to April

North Coast of Devon and Cornwall

England, United Kingdom
LAST UPDATED 27/10/2009
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Godrevy Sunset; Matt Smith/

Devon and Cornwall are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, if not the most popular. It's easy to see why, it has the mildest climate in the UK and as you leave the M5 motorway and head west into Devon you are immediately enveloped in rolling green hills and chocolate box villages. Tourism is king here, since the decline of fishing, agriculture and mining the area has become more dependant on the tourist pound. There area has something to offer every taste, from the ever so popular surfing beaches and 24-hour party atmosphere of Newquay to sleepy village cafes serving cream teas on the sun deck.


Gwithian sunset; Matt Smith/

The north coast of Devon and Cornwall is a real hotspot on the UK map of surfing, ask anyone who doesn't surf in the British Isles where the best place to surf is and they'll point you in this direction, probably to the town of Newquay. That's because this is where British surfing was born in the early part of the 20th century but really started to take off here in the late 50's early 60's, though who the first British surfer is a little unclear. Newquay also owes it's surfing fame to the annual World Qualifying Series competion held here every August which attracts over 100,000 spectators, when the circus comes to town! Indeed the road sign brags on the way into town "Home to Europes finest surfing beaches" That's a matter of opinion but there are some gems here none the less. Newquay surfers have reached the highest levels in competitive surfing with Russell Winter spending 3 years on the World Championship tour and Alan Stokes doing well in the Qualifying Series.

But all that aside, this stretch of coastline should be on the list of places to visit for any surfer travelling to  the UK. It's mild blue waters, thanks to the Gulf Stream, and rugged picturesque coastline makes this a magical place to come catch a few curly ones!!


Gwithian Lines; Matt Smith/

Car Devon and Cornwall are accessed by the A30 or the A38 which start form Exeter at the end of the M5 and run west through both counties. Both Devon and Cornwall have an intricate network of roads which look great on a map but in reality are very narrow, slow roads and during the peak months of July and August often come to a complete standstill with tourist traffic.

Train Regular trains run on the main line from London, Bristol, Birminghan etc. to Plymouth, Truro and Penzance. There are also a few branch lines, the most useful linking St Ives to the main lie at St Erth and from Newquay to Par.

Coach Devon and Cornwall and served well by National Express coach services from London and other parts of the UK.

Air Newquay airport is the main airport for Cornwall which has the following services:

  • Aer Arann - Cork , London-Luton
  • Air Southwest - Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, Leeds/Bradford, London-Gatwick, Manchester
  • British Airways - London-Gatwick
  • bmibaby - Manchester 
  • Isles of Scilly Skybus - St. Mary's (isles of Scilly)
  • Ryanair - London-Stansted

where to stay

man and woman pose in front of tepee; Frank Palmer, 1864-1920

When it comes to places to stay Devon and Cornwall has it pretty much sewn up, as I said earlier, here tourism is king. You can get anything here from top dollar hotels like the Headland Hotel which overlooks Fistral Beach in Newquay, through to rows and rows of good quality bed and breakfast options that line the town streets (most popular choice), cottage rentals and campsites a plenty. The main surfing hubs of Newquay and Croyde also have great hostels at budget prices. These places see to be very popular among the surfing fraternity and often have a great atmosphere where many will serve beer and show surf movies in the evening - a good warm up to a night on the town!

what to pack


The south west of England has probably the mildest weather the British Isles but it can still get pretty bitter in the depths of winter (Dec- Feb). At this time of year you will to bring plenty of warm clothes: Long trousers (pants) warm pullovers, jacket, beanie, scarf etc. In the summer months (May- Sept) shorts and T-shirts are the go, with maybe longer pants for the evening time. Just about anything and everything can be bought here if you forget any items there are plenty of shops etc.

For the water you will want a 5/3mm wetsuit and boots for the colder months (Dec-Feb). In Spring through to Autumn you will be fine in a 3mm steamer and maybe a shorty in the summer on the sunnier days.

Your standard shortboard for 2-4ft days will see you though most days, maybe worth packing something a little more business like for the bigger days on the reefs. And a fish for the summer smaller swells. There are also plenty of longboard waves around.

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