Surfing UK: Autumn is the best season to surf these shores

The best places to surf around the country
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The Independent Travel

It's September, the kids have gone back to school, the ice-cream vans have packed up for the summer, and the UK's beaches return to being used by dog walkers, the odd jogger, and those brave enough to pull on a wetsuit and get into the water.

"It's not as cold as you'd imagine," says Ernie Capbert, from UK surf brand Finisterre, "and autumn is definitely the best season for swells, sunset barbecues, and general good beach vibes."

While Devon and Cornwall remain the obvious choice for those in the south of the UK, there are plenty of amazing surf breaks on every coastline. Whitby, Yorkshire, is the perfect place to get bitten by the surfing bug. The town's West Cliff beach is an ideal place to learn as the shallow-gradient, sandy beach means nervous surfers won't get too far out of their depth too quickly. Add good parking, nearby showers and a café, and it's no wonder Whitby Surf School (whitbysurfschool.co.uk) is in hot demand, especially as it offers stand up paddleboard classes if the waves refuse to roll in.

Those living in London might be surprised that there's actually great surf a few hours' drive away. No, not Brighton, though the odd storm swell does create some good waves in the Sussex resort, but Norfolk's Cromer Beach. North Sea swells and the right wind conditions can produce barrelling left-hand waves.

If you don't mind a bit of a trek and fancy some genuine adventuring, the Isle of Lewis — part of the Scottish Outer Hebrides — has empty waves, stunning beaches, genuinely world-class surf, and friendly pubs. The Hebridean Surf School (01851 840343, hebrideansurf.co.uk) offers lessons, transport, advice, surfboard hire and everything you need for a weekend or longer surf break. Getting there is expensive, though: fly to Stornoway from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness, or take the ferry from Ullapool.

Ireland has a wealth of cold-water surf breaks, with Bundoran effectively being the country's surf city. But for the true Irish surf experience, head six-miles down the coast to Rossnowlagh, and you'll get the pick of some clear, perfectly formed Atlantic rollers. For accommodation, try Tyrconnell Holiday Cottages (00 353 7198 42277) who also run the local surf school.

South Wales has some fantastic waves and a great surf scene (head to Pembrokeshire if you want the best of the bunch), but it's still hard to beat a quick trip to Cornwall. And for the ultimate weekend, the revamped Driftwood Spars (driftwoodspars.co.uk), in St Agnes, is the place to stay. "Aggie", as it's known, offers clear, often perfect waves.

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