Hit the Cornish waters this winter
While the southwesterly county of Cornwall may seem to be an unlikely destination for a winter break, scores of water babies are heading to our favourite coast to get on the high seas. Famed for the great Cornish pasty, magnificent coastlines and idyllic seaside towns, it certainly has a special place in many hearts – from nostalgic childhood holidays to first summer loves. For others it is the chance to get back to nature and take in the sea air…
According to seasoned kayak instructor Tony Whittle at Elemental UK, the best time to visit is during the colder months as this is when the sea is at its warmest. With the sea beginning to heat up during May and June it takes the whole summer to finally be warm(ish) by the autumn. However, a wetsuit, warm set of clothes and a hot cuppa for after is essential!
At Elemental UK they run fantastic watersport facilities at two different sites in Cornwall; one on Tolcarne Beach, Newquay and another on Swanpool Beach, Falmouth. They also have a residential base in France. Falmouth has always been favoured for kayaking due to its sheltered beaches and calm surf, making it ideal for beginners.
For thousands of years the humble fishing kayak was used to fetch the daily catch. Now, it’s beckoning everyone’s inner explorer to check out coastlines, sea coves and witness the impressive wildlife. There’s the option to go solo in a one man kayak or double up with a mate. For water sports beginners, it is advised to start with kayaking as it’s much easier to control, yet still allows you to explore the incredible Cornish coast.
No longer made from whale bone and seals skin, the modern day kayak has been developed into a user (and animal friendly) mode of transport. The ‘sit on top kayak’ – most commonly used in British waters – veers away from the traditional kayak where users sit inside, like a cockpit. Instead, the kayak is more shallow, with inflated air chambers to support the boat and to prevent capsizing.
Another firm favourite along the south coast is ‘stand up paddleboarding’ (SUP). Its board is similar to the classic surfboard, but a little larger to aid stability, and to get about, the boarder has a long paddle for manoeuvering. Paddleboard pros reckon the health benefits are endless – great for improving core strength, balance and concentration. While paddleboarding is more challenging for most, it is worth putting in the effort to get a more up-close view of nature. The instructors at Elemental UK also recommend venturing out early in the morning. Not only is it much quieter, the wind is usually much steadier and the sea is clearer, allowing you to see right down through teal green waters and view life under the sea. During the summer months seals, dolphins and bask sharks are often spotted too.
It is unsurprising that activity centres around the country have received an unprecedented growth in the last five years for both kayaking and SUP, especially on the Cornish shores and estuaries. Not only superb for fitness and a great activity for groups, but also allows the paddler to have up close encounters with rare and endangered wildlife, surrounding the British coasts. Cornwall is definitely not one to be overlooked during the chillier months – it’s ideal for an exhilarating weekend away to banish those winter blues!
By Claire Dunling