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Yorkshire Surf Guide

To look at the map of the NE Coast, the potential leaps out of the page at you. From Spurn Point on the mouth of the Humber to the Scottish Borders it is a series of long beaches, coves and reefs, all offering good surf and wind under their own conditions. When all comes together the NE of England can rival its SW counterparts, if not better it. Swells are predominantly from the north and north east with the occasional south easterly creeping in. Winds obviously shift and change but the largest percentage being SW (off shore), N (cross shore) and NW/NE (cross off on shore).

ScarboroughIt is fairly obvious then, that there is a set up somewhere for all beach and water users. As with the rest of our island, autumn, winter and spring are the best months. The water quality along this whole stretch of coast has had a marked improvement due to investment from Yorkshire water. Do not be put off by the colour at certain spots especially further south as it is geological rather than man made.

Localism occasionally will rear its head but stick to the etiquette and rules, suss the breaks compared to your ability and smile rather than frown and you can find yourself tucking into some of the sweetest waves on our island…bring a thick wetsuit though!!!

The East & North Yorkshire coastlines can be divided into four main areas:

1. Spurn Point to Bridlington

FraisthorpeThe topography of this stretch of coast is that it faces SE/E/NE with Flamborough Head at the furthest north point. In reality it is a 25 mile beach. The problem being that only the bigger northerly swells will wrap into the bay. The advantage is that the gently sloping bottom cleans them up to make for a cleaner wave than there would be further north when the big northerlies march in during the winter months.

Spots to check on big N swells or E SE swells are: Bridlington, Fraisthorpe, Barmston, Hornsea and Withernsea. All work best on a low to mid pushing tide but beware of vicious long shore rips, submerged scaffolding and old WWII bunkers!!

For those that harness the power of the wind then the world is your oyster. Huge stretches of sand and winds from the four points of the compass. A thriving kite and kitesurf community has developed over the past 5 years but unlike the SW there is plenty of space combined easy access and parking along this whole stretch of the coast.

2. Flamborough to Filey

Almost identical in its make up to Bridlington Bay for its consistency and quality of surf – again a crescent shaped bay which cleans up in bigger swells and picks up the easterly summer swells. Check the bay from Reighton Sands at the Southern end and then take your pick from Reighton, Hunmanby Gap, Primrose Valley and Filey itself. The swell will decrease the further north you go. Same caution needs to be applied with reference to long shore rips on bigger swells. When the whole of the coast is completely maxed out then there is always shelter in the north corner of the bay.

Sit and watch as the tide pushes in and gets over “the Brigg” and suddenly what was 1’ can quite quickly become 3 ‘ to 4 ‘. Dominated by longboarders but the bigger swells can make for a fun shortboard session.

3. Filey to Scarborough

Cayton BayProper surf country now with beaches and reefs stretching from here to Scotland! Cayton Bay is well documented with the surf shop/lessons/showers/parking and the long walk back up the hill. Pretty much guaranteed to pick up any swell going but has a tendency to close out on all but the cleanest of swells. The point is out there if you want to compete with the locals, but be advised, although friendly, they have it wired, so your chances of a wave are pretty slim. Cayton works best on a pushing tide but high tide can kill medium swells.

Scarborough is Yorkshire’s “wave haven”. The two bays North and South work in conjunction with each other. For example, too big for North, South is working well, nothing in South Bay, North should have something. Neither work at high tide. The town itself has enough surf shops to cater for those who need and the town itself has a lively nightlife for the hedonists.

4. Scarborough to Whitby

SandsendThe make up of this stretch of coast points towards lots of little gems. Some known and some are under lock and key! Explore if you have the feral instinct and you may find some fun…or you might come out of the water with your tail between your legs!!!

Whitby itself has a punchy beachbreak and a left reef at Sandsend, both of which can provide some fantastic days when all comes together. The beachbreak itself can be particularly fierce on bigger swells, though the beach has plenty of space to pick your best paddle out spot. Best from low to mid tide and the cliffs can provide shelter in a strong northerly wind.

Many thanks to Jus from Cheekeemonkee Surfboards for this guide. They are based in Skipsea, East Yorkshire, and make the finest surfboards the North East has to offer. So, if you are looking for a spankin’ new monkee (or a 2nd hand board), need a ding fixing, want some advice on the best spots, or when to go, want to start surfing or having problems with progressing, in fact any surf/weather/equipment related query, then visit their website at www.cheekeemonkeesurf.co.uk.

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