Kimmeridge, Dorset

The most renowned wave spot on the Dorset coast. Some would say the best reef break on the entire south coast of England. The waves are at least a foot or two bigger than everywhere else and they pack more of a punch than down the road at Bournemouth or the Witterings. As long as some swell is running, it will always kick up at Kimmeridge. Even better, because of the rocky formation of the beach, there is little shorebreak. Coupled with very dramatic scenery and a feeling of isolation, this beach is for the wavehead purists. Spocks and vulcans are banned!

Beach Faces:

South-west

Best Wind Direction:

North-west & South-east are cross-shore and provide good jumping and wave riding. West is good for jumping, North is good for cross-off wave riding.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

You want a big South-west storm then for the low to pass over and swing West/North-west. This will give the cleanest and biggest waves on the reef.

Not Good:

East & North-east are straight offshore. South-west is onshore and there are better places in this direction like Avon Beach, Poole or Pagham.

Tide:

The beach can be sailed at all times but the reef is best at mid to high tide on the push.

What’s On The Bottom:

Rock

Any Hazards:

Lots of rocks. Be careful on launch and landing especially at mid to low tide. Best to jump off carefully and walk in.

The rock ledges are very slippery and care must be taken in bare feet.

Kimmeridge beach is surrounded by big cliffs on each side. Access is limited at high tide, certainly no room for the ambulance!

Don’t sail in front of the firing range if the red flags are up. The range is off the cliff tops to your right looking out to sea.
Finally, watch out for the conger eels on the rock ledges, they like the taste of windsurfers’ toes!

Other Water Users:

This is a popular surfing beach so when it’s good waves with light winds, expect them to get in your way. Plenty of tourists on the beach in the summer.

Suitability / Levels:

Intermediate wave sailors to experts.
To the east of the bay is the Ledges, (rocky scars coming out of the cliff) and they give the best wave riding for intermediates upwards. Sail upwind half a mile to the west, and you reach Broad Bench, a right hand point break. This is for experts only and bullet dodgers. The MOD fire from the cliff tops, if the red flag is flying, don’t even think about it.
Or you can sail the middle reef. This is not as shallow as the ledges with just rolling swell that you can backloop off.
This is NOT a beginners beach: tricky launch, cobbles, rocks and gusty winds on the inside – forget it!

Wipeout Factor:

Shallow, rocky and waves equals kit breakage in a good wipeout on the Ledges. However you will then get washed over the ledge where the waves break much softer. Break something at The Bench and it’s a long swim in across the bay. If you’re studid enough to go out on a big, onshore day then expect plenty of white water, which you can’t outrun, then a good hammering on the reef with no escape from under the cliffs. Best avoided!

Instruction:

No

Kit Hire:

No

Friendly Factor:

On a windy, wavy day you can get up to 30 people out, which is as many as you want as it’s not a big place. You usually get 5 people sailing The Bench, and 10 to 15 sailing the Ledges with the rest in the middle. It never gets as busy as other south coast beaches as it is quite an isolated spot.

No Wind Alternatives:

On a windy, wavy day you can get up to 30 people out, which is as many as you want as it’s not a big place. You usually get 5 people sailing The Bench, and 10 to 15 sailing the Ledges with the rest in the middle. It never gets as busy as other south coast beaches as it is quite an isolated spot.

Facilities:

Toilets

Yes, in the car park.

Shower

No

Windsurfing Shop

No, go to Poole Harbour, a 30min drive away for H20 Watersports, French ConnectionPoole Harbour Board Sailing & The Waterboard.

Food

Village shop in Kimmeridge, 5mins away. Ice cream van in summer.

Parking

In summer, you have to pay to cross the toll road to the car park, £3 per car, £4 if have a roof rack of kit. Get there before 9am, beat the toll lady and park for free!

Pub

One in Kimmeridge village.

Accommodation:

Lots of accomodation around Swanage and Wareham.
Try:
www.swanage.gov.uk/accommodation/list.asp?type=camping

www.virtual-swanage.co.uk/accommodation/default.aspx

Or stay at the Swanage Youth Hostel.

Local Hotshots:

The King brothers, Timo Mullen, Ed and Henio from K-Bay.

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

Chapman’s Pool is a secret left-hand reef break with long rides which works in a East or South-east. It is surfable at low tide. A good spot if Kimmeridge is busy.

Extra:

A lot of photo shoots are done here for the UK magazines as the cliffs give a good vantage point for photos together with clear water and a spectacular backdrop.

Go to Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve website for more pictures of the beach including what you’re sailing over (if you want to know!)

How To Get There:

Head to Wareham. Take the A351 south towards Swanage, turning off just before Corfe Castle, signposted to Church Knowle. Then follow signs to Kimmeridge. The final road to the beach is via a toll road. Note: there are many different ways to get to this beach along narrow, windy roads. Some routes are closed when the firing ranges are open.

Report By:

Andy & Steve King

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