Gwithian Area, Cornwall

Gwithian is possibly the most consistent, true down-the-line wave spot in England. The curving beaches of Hayle Bay offer numerous sailing spots depending on wind direction and swell size. The most common sailed winds are from the South and West. Combined with swell these can give amazing port tack, down-the-line conditions.

The prevailing South-west wind is often funnelled along the Hayle river and streams out at the Bluff. This causes cross-offshore winds making for awesome conditions when the waves are big.

Further along the bay, and to the North lies the fabled Gwithian beach with the  notorious ‘goat trail’ access path. Gwithian picks up a lot more swell than the more sheltered beaches to the south of the Bay. In a Southerly Gwithian will give you cross-off, classic riding days from knee to mast high. Steve and Andy King describe…

Beach Faces:

Godrevy = West

Gwithian = North-west

Hayle/The Bluff = North

Carbis Bay = North-east

Best Wind Direction:


Best Wind Direction For Waves:

Godrevy = South to South-west although in these directions it’s easier just to sail Gwithian. It can work well with a high tide and strong North to North-east winds but this is rare.

Gwithian = South to west. South to South-west give great riding whilst West can be good jumping. Gets slightly smaller waves than Godrevy.

Hayle/The Bluff = South-west to west for wave riding through to North-east for jumping or blasting.

Not Good:

(all beaches): If East  to South-east winds head to Carbis Bay or St Ives. However you won’t find waves unless it is massive swell.

Tide:

Low tide is a long walk out to sucky, dumpy waves breaking close to the shore. Jumping is not so good unless it is huge.

Mid tide is good for all types of sailing with clean wind and well spaced waves that are good for riding and jumping.

High tide is still sailable at most beaches apart from spring tides where access can be limited. Try Hayle or Godrevy. Waves can start backing off until it becomes a shore dump. The wind can be gusty due to land affects.

What’s On The Bottom:

Sand

Any Hazards:

There are the occasional patches of rocks submerged at high tide at Godrevy, Gwithian and Hayle.
Look out for waves breaking over the scar of reef submerged at most tides to the left of the car park at Gwithian.

An area of reef lays in front of the lifeguard hut at Gwithian and another patch is submerged at high tide between Gwithian and Godrevy.

At Hayle take care of strong currents, shallow sand bars and channel markers in the rivermouth. Access points to all beaches involve some steep and sometimes slippery walks down grass and rock paths. Take care especially when it’s wet or windy. The goat trail at Gwithian has claimed many victims who have under estimated  its powers of ruining kit. Rig on the beach if it’s howling and if in doubt access via the Lifeguard hut at lower tides.

Know the tide times and work out your access and ingress points as these can be cut off by the incoming tide.

Watch out for cliff edges at Gwithian and Hayle.

Other Water Users:

Surfers, a few kitesurfers and sometimes a jet skiers at Hayle. In the summer these are very popular beaches for tourists. Follow Lifeguard rules and sail in the marked areas and do not go anywhere near swimmers.

Respect the local sailors, know and follow general wave sailing rules.

Keep your eyes open for seals and dolphins who can be regular water users in the area and brighten up even the lamest of days.

Suitability / Levels:

Intermediates to Advanced. Beginners possible on flat days but be aware of strong tides, rips and poor access for heavy kit.

Wipeout Factor:

Gwithian experiences full force Atlantic waves on a big day. Get it wrong and expect some severe damage to your kit and a big swim. Know your limits and just head south along the bay to find more suitable conditions if you are at all in doubt. Remember the waves can be a lot bigger than they look from the cliff top.

Instruction:

No

Kit Hire:

No

Friendly Factor:

Always a few local guys and a few regular travellers on a good forecast even in the middle of winter. It rarely gets busy even at weekends because the different level of sailors spread out across the various beaches.

No Wind Alternatives:

Always a few local guys and a few regular travellers on a good forecast even in the middle of winter. It rarely gets busy even at weekends because the different level of sailors spread out across the various beaches.

Facilities:

Toilets

Yes, at Gwithian near Lifeguard Hut.

No at Hayle but utilise the Bluff Inn if it’s open.

Yes at Godrevy but buy a drink from the Café to use theirs.

Shower

No

Windsurfing Shop

Lodey Loft in Marizion, West Country Watersports in Truro

Food

Cafes at Godrevy and Gwithian.
The Bluff Inn and the Bucket of Blood pubs serve OK food.
Lidl, Coop, Spar and plenty of pasty shops in Hayle.
Mc Donalds and Shell garage on roundabout before Hayle.

Parking

Gwithian: £2 – £4
Godrevy: £2 – £3 unless National Trust Member.
Hayle: Park for free in Bluff Inn car park on a quiet day. When busy you may have to park in a near-by field for £3.

Pub

The Bluff Inn (if you like hanging out with sun burnt Chavs in the summer from the caravan park). It is shut in the winter.
If you want to meet the real locals try The Bucket of Blood on the road to the Bluff but expect some friendly abuse!
For real night life head to St Ives which has plenty of nice restaurants and swanky bars. End up at the Isobar, also known as Fat Club, for all your dancing and sexual needs.

Accommodation:

www.tomsholidays.co.uk,
www.beachside.co.uk 
www.surfacademy.co.uk

Nearby: 
www.mountsbay-caravanpark.co.uk

www.atlanticcoast-caravanpark.co.uk
www.gwithianfarm.co.uk

Local Hotshots:

Andy Fawcett, Ian Black, Big Danny, Harvey, Blue LDV, the boys from Lodey and regular commuters from Plymouth and surrounding areas. Expect to see these guys ripping whenever it is firing alongside visiting UK Pros and a few travelling Euro’s. Remember, give everybody plenty of space, follow the rules and everybody will be friendly.

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

There are a few access points to the beach between Gwithian and the Bluff. Seek and you may find the best conditions in some winds and waves but watch your valuables if you leave your cars unattended.

Wait for a big, low pressure to come spinning off the Atlantic bringing strong winds and big waves. As the winds swing from the south to the west move down the bay, from Godrevy to Hayle. If the winds carry on swinging more west/north west then head down to the coast at Marizion for some starboard tack riding and jumping.

Extra:

There is a Freewave competition held by the UKWA every year at Gwithian over the Easter weekend. Turn up and enter!

How To Get There:

Take the M5 to Exeter. From Exeter take the Bodmin Road (A30), keep on to Redruth, then Hayle.

For Godrevy and Gwithian.

At the big roundabout head to Hayle, at the double mini-roundabout head straight across the first then right at the second. Follow the road all the way to the top of the hill.

For Gwithian turn left to Gwithian Towans. Follow the road over the speed humps until you get to the car park opposite the Café.

For Godrevy keep on going through Gwithian village and then turn left after a small hump-back bridge. Turn left into the National Trust car park.

For The Bluff head straight over the mini-roundabouts towards Hayle centre. Turn right after a park and playground (on the right) towards the Bluff. Follow this road all the way until you reach The Bluff Inn.

Carbis Bay is accessed from the St Ives road.

Report By:

Steve and Andy King.

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