Why is Yorkshire the jewel of surfing in the UK?
Could it be the fantastic surf, the friendly people, or the diverse geography of the northeast coast? Perhaps a combination of all of these factors is drawing crowds to Yorkshire and the Northeast and luring hardcore surfers away from the more traditional surf spots of the Southwest.
Over the past 20 years, it seems that Yorkshire and the northeast coast have become increasingly popular with surfers, those who know what they are doing appreciate the varied coastline that stretches from around Spurn Point to Staithes, Saltburn and Redcar.
Many have suggested that this length of coastline despite the surf is one of the most interesting in the country. Beginning at Spurn Point, the slim peninsula that snakes at the mouth of the humble estuary and ending around Redcar, the geology and geography of the beaches, bays, and stunning geographic features are there for all to see. In the south, from Spurn Point to around Bridlington, the coast is a relatively low beach.
When it comes to surfing, here the gently sloping bottoms create a cleaner wave when the big waves from the north wrap around the bay; however, generally only the most extreme conditions provide good surfing, although the beaches here are safe, rock-free, and can be quite indifferent to the large tourist-style crowds. Recommended surf spots in East Yorkshire would be Bridlington, Fraisthorpe, Barmston, Hornsea and Withensea. This part of the coast is particularly synonymous with windsurfers who take advantage of the regular wind space and easily accessible beaches, particularly around the Fraisthorpe area.
The area from Flamborough to Filey Bay is dominated by limestone cliffs reaching their pinnacle at Bempton with what must be some of the most impressive coastal geological features in the country. However, it is difficult to access the water around here as the cliffs rise vertically more than 100 feet in some places. At the northernmost end of the chalk and limestone section around Speeton, the cliffs taper off and mark the beginning of Filey Bay. Starting around Reighton and extending to Brigg in Filey, the bay is 6 miles or 10 kilometers long. There are some great surf spots along here, easy beaches that come alive on the big waves from the north. Reighton, Hunmanby Gap, and Primrose Valley are the main spots along the sandy stretch here and are good spots for longboarding. The northern part of Filey Bay is protected from the big waves by The Brigg, a large rock that heads towards the North Sea and forms a natural refuge.
Heading north from here for about three miles between Filey and Cayton Bay, the terrain provides difficult access to the beach, the next highlight is Cayton Bay, which has earned a reputation as a fantastic surf destination in its day. The beach is supported by the Cayton Bay Surf School, which not only offers lessons, but also free surf accessories, food, and hot showers. There is also parking next to the store. The three main breaks here are widely considered to be Pump House, Bunkers, and Point. The Pumphouse breaks at mid or low tide and is located at the northern end of the bay, the wave is fast due to the sloping nature of the shore and a quick take off is essential. Many believe this wave is good for longboarding as it is nice and stable at times, but those new to the area are advised to be careful around the rocks. Bunkers is the place of the middle tide that offers good waves for all levels and is located between the old Bunkers of the Second World War and is considered in its day as the classic breakwater. There is also another beach break in front of the steps as you come down from the surf shop and this is popular with beginners and is often the area of choice for surf school lessons. The predominant break for advanced surfers here is The Point, which is located at the northern end of the bay just off the rocky headland. This break only recovers in the rare right conditions and can produce a big barrel wave that only the most capable surfers can really attempt, the point is notoriously rocky and the water at the base of many waves is particularly shallow. However, in its day this wave could rival anywhere in the UK. Better to be respectful to the locals and wait for recognition in any line on a day this wave is running, as someone stepping out of their depth or being rude may not be welcome if they behave unsafe.
Moving north, the next known breaks are in the South Bay at Scarborough. As a city, the surfer has many options here in terms of surf shops and places to buy equipment or accessories with around 4 or 5 stores located in the city, as well as a couple in both the north and south of the bay that they serve the beaches.
Scarborough’s two bays tend to work together. If a big swell from the north increases and makes The North Bay unsafe, then the more sheltered south bay is not the place to surf. As the beaches are very popular surf areas, it is again recommended to respect the lineups on busy days, however, the locals are generally known to be friendly and supportive of respectful visitors and the surf shops in town are great places to visit. get advice or for anyone. help with knowledge of local breaks. Bay Surf and Secret Spot can be found in the city itself and Blue Crush by the Sands Holiday Development in North Bay and Fluid Concept by the Spa complex in The South Bay.
Starting with the South Bay, the castle headland provides a natural harbor that takes some of the wave height, yet helps produce a cleaner wave that is ideal for beginners and lower-intermediate surfers. The area is considered best at mid-tide, although in the east or south of the east, the area in front of the diversions can produce large waves.
The North Bay understood from three main waves, Supersucks, as it is known locally, is located at the northern end of the beach and is a wave that tends to produce the merchandise only in the precise conditions of an east or southeast swell, without Yet it does. Produces fast hollow waves. Middle Peak performs well in most conditions and on good days it can produce incredible waves, visitors are advised to keep an eye out for the tide as when full the waves crash into the seawall with explosive fury, like many visitors to Scarborough’s Marine Drive in winter storms can do so. vouch for. Finally. The rights, as it is known, create a wave to the right at the southernmost edge of the bay, this again may be a world-class wave in the right conditions, but it can be treacherous for all but the most surfers. Capable due to the frequent rocks that can be hidden in higher waters.
From North Bay in Scarborough to Whitby there is a coastal stretch of around 20 miles of often undocumented areas known to have fantastic surfing, this area is truly a great place for the most adventurous and daring surfers to explore, there is not much of what is documented about this area of the Yorkshire coast, although it is known that there may be areas along here that have not been commercially promoted and are worth looking for. There are, for example, some breaks around Robin Hoods Bay that are generally not frequented along the long reef that exists there.
Several known breaks can be found around the Whitby area. There is a great break at Upgang Beach between Sandsend and Whitby and this can be quite fierce in a northern swell, although this area can often get quite crowded, especially during the holiday season. The local surf shop here is Zero Gravity which is located in Flowergate and it is the only surf shop in the area from here to Saltburn. Zero Gravity staff will be happy to help with any advice and point people in the right direction.
The next notable surf destination on our trip up the Yorkshire coast is Runswick Bay. Features found here are an exposed reef and a breaking point that provide consistent surf conditions. Like many surf spots on this coast, the best waves come from the north, conditions here tend to lend themselves to the most capable surfers as there is no beach and there are a number of rocks that can be dangerous. The advantage here is that the beach is often uncrowded compared to the beaches closest to Whitby and Scarborough. The nearby cove, as it is known, is also a reef break that operates under similar conditions and is known to produce world-class conditions in the right type of swell generally during the colder winter months.
Staithes’ destination is next on the list of surfing hot spots, Staithes has developed a reputation for having some of the best surfing conditions in the area when the conditions are right. The right conditions here, especially in the winter months, produce big barrel waves that only the most skilled should attempt. Add to that the charm of the pretty seaside town that was once the home of Captain Cook. Many of Staithes’ surfing secrets remain a closely guarded knowledge of locals and surf enthusiasts in the area who wish to preserve the charm of this particular location.
Although strictly in Cleveland, it would be wrong not to mention Saltburn. Saltburn has developed an excellent reputation for surfing over the years and is famous for its iconic pier which many surfers have been known to jump into as a way to get into the water. There is a nice beach break here, as well as a low tide bank to the east in what is known as a penny hole. The beach is served by the Saltburn Surf School.
Overall, the Yorkshire coast provides a surfing mecca and has something for beginners to advanced level. Combine this with the fact that the scenery is stunning with much of the coastline within the national park, as well as the added bonus of small crowds and friendly Yorkshire people and the result is a top-notch destination. Hopefully, as surfing grows in popularity and more people enter the sport, the fundamentals that make this area so special can remain the same while keeping the integrity of the surfing areas intact.