Perched atop a dune on ‘the other side’ of the River Gannel, white sand between toes, warm sunshine radiating down and a waist high swell pushing onto the sand bank, you wouldn’t know the supposed hedonistic Cornish town of Newquay was just a short hop over the headland.
Crantock – pic courtesy Crantock Bay Surf School
Back in my yoof, when this surfing lark was all new and sparkly, Newquay was the epicentre of everything liquid and shred. Coming from inland I used to sit and dream about heading down to the ‘Shire and immersing myself in good waves and the town’s surfing vibe.
Over the years though this image has been slightly tarnished by the Club 18-30s booze, burgers ‘n’ breasts holiday camp mentality. After seeing too many chavs throwing up my love affair with Newquay ended. More peaceful and tranquil locations became the preferred and Surf City UK fell off a mental cliff.
Back in the village
During the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, however, the wife and I pretty much rediscovered the place. Well, Crantock actually – a sleepy village that although annexed to Newquay, feels like a million miles away. Looking for somewhere different, and a place to test out Nah Skwell’s unusual Maxi G 7.3ft SUP, we took a punt and opted for the ‘other side of the Gannel’.
Nah Skwell’s Maxi G 7.3ft
I’d previously visited the village back in my late teens, staying at the nearby touring park with an ex and some mates. At the time I hadn’t opened my eyes to the beauty of Crantock and was therefore pleasantly reacquainted with what felt like a long lost friend.
After scouring the interweb we found a quirky little guest house at the top of the village called Highfields @ Crantock. A comfortable and surfer friendly lodging with in house café serving homemade fare and awesome breakfasts – we were in our element.
Uninterrupted views stretched across open rolling Cornish countryside from our bedroom window while the friendliness of our hosts, Dave and Lisa, was refreshingly contrasting to the usual sullen faces you encounter at many B&Bs. They also welcome four legged canine friends – pretty unusual for this day and age.
Room with a view
Crantock Bay is a wide expanse of sand that funnels into a secluded cove at high tide. A bit of a swell magnet, the beach picks up pulses even on the smallest of days. On a weekend when not much was forecast it was honey sweet to be riding waist high steep and fast low tide walls – perfect for trying out Nah Skwell’s Maxi G 7.3ft.
The best thing about Crantock, from a stand up paddle point of view though, is the River Gannel. This serves two purposes. For those with experience in the art of wave shredding the river gives a dry hair paddle out when the tide drops. No more foam ball bomb dodging, simply jump on the conveyor belt and out back you go!
Crantock aerial showing the River Gannel to the north
With an incoming tide the Gannel is perfect for flat water SUP exploring. As a touring location this is probably one of the most overlooked locations in Cornwall, and yet is perfect for gentile meanders with mates, serious race training for the big event or perhaps casting a line.
If downwinders are your bag then SW blows are great. Simply use the rip to get out back, point your stick towards Fistral or Watergate and off you go. Either route is challenging and fun. Although I didn’t get any downwind paddling in on this occasion I can certainly see the potential.
Low tide fun
The middle low tide sand bank during our trip was the daddy though. Even though waves were only 2ft at best, walls would hit the shallows, jack up and deliver a peeling right hander that allowed for multiple turns. As the close out approached you could line yourself up and just hit it.
Banging the Nah Skwell Maxi G 7.3ft off the froth for the gallery
The Nah Skwell Maxi G 7.3ft allowed for some fun riding and at the end of each session the apres ‘apple juice drink’ (read cider) was all the more refreshing!
Small but steep – testing the Nah Skwell Maxi G 7.3ft
With it being Easter Weekend we imagined that Newquay would be mobbed – yet not so. Both evening’s we made the pilgrimage into town and enjoyed a sundown picnic on the sands under the Headland Hotel’s iconic loom.
On numerous occasions I commented how different Newquay was to just a few years ago. I appreciate this wasn’t quite high summer but still, rather than hordes of drunken yobs the beach and town was full of families.
Crantock turned out to be a bit of a revelation. It’s not often you get to rediscover a spot you think you know. And it’s even rarer to come across a Cornish venue where multiple watery disciplines are tolerated. (Kayaking AND SUP are both well represented).
Some of this credit has to be given to Crantock Surf School owner Rob Small. His set up is both quality and diverse. Although a hard core wave rider at heart Rob is open minded enough to offer a variety of watersports. He’s equally happy paddling on the flat as charging death pits in Lanzarote. This type of attitude will always permeate down the food chain and as such the vibe in the line up is chilled out, eclectic and fun – how it should be.
Crantock Maxi G 7.3ft floater
Crantock Bay is now back on my list of priority spots and we’ll most certainly be back. After the cracking weekend we’ve just experienced how can we not?
For great accommodation give Highfileds @ Crantock a shout, they’ll sort you out. Contact Rob Small at Crantock Bay Surf School for general good vibes, hire, lessons and local knowledge. And lastly, thanks to Jon Popkiss at Nah Skwell UK/Kai Sports for the use of the Maxi G 7.3ft.