by Ruth Brooker
Now that a chill has appeared in the air, the UK may not be the best destination for lying about lapping up the sunshine on its golden sands. But autumn is definitely the best season for indulging in wind sports at the seaside.
Being an island, we are never far from a stretch of stunning coastline and the UK has an abundance of long beaches with vast expanses of sand. This is perfect for comfortably accommodating a variety of beach users from dog-walkers to swimmers and kite-surfers.
Having only existed for the last decade, kite-surfing is a relatively new sport but it has grown in popularity and is making its debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
It involves harnessing the power of the wind to pull you at speed across the surface of the sea on a surfboard. For the really advanced, it can quickly transport you to the best peeling waves without all that arduous arm-paddling that surfers have to do. It is possibly the most fun you could have at the beach whilst zipped into a wetsuit.
Alternatively, if this is all a bit too high octane for you, just enjoy a bracing windy walk at one of these lovely locations. Then watch the keen kite-surfers perform tricks whilst relaxing with coffee and cake.
Due to its consistently good winds, Rhosneigr is one of the premier kite-surfing destinations in the UK and consequently some of the best kiters and windsurfers sail here. There are 2 sandy bays and it works best for kiters at the northern end. But there are rocks around so try and get a good look at low tide to work out where they are. There’s also a café which looks on to the beach that will suit the non-kiters.
Poole Harbour, Dorset
This is the world’s second largest natural harbour and it is perfect for families and beginners due to the safe, shallow waters. There are four main spots here so it is possible to sail in all wind directions. This also means that the area can cater to experts as well.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall
A large, beautiful beach with clear blue twinkling water and world-class waves. This obviously makes it popular with surfers and holidaymakers. On busy days the water will be filled with people so kiters will have to keep to the designated areas. There are also some excellent eating options – such as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen – that face the beach for those not entering the water.
Rhossili Beach, South Wales
Often thronged with salt-crusted surfers, this enormous beach is more suited to experts. It can get big swells coming in which means punchy, aggressive waves. Head down to the right side of the beach to keep out of the way of surfers, swimmers and paddlers. There is also a bit of a trek across the sand dunes to reach the beach.
Hayling Island, Hampshire
With over 3 miles of shingled seafront this area has great conditions for experienced kiters; there is always somewhere to sail, whatever the wind direction. And at low tide, lagoons appear with flat, shallow water that is perfect for learning. It is very accessible from London and Southampton, and the oyster beds have also created a wildlife haven where it is possible to spot a great variety of sea birds.
The Island of Tiree, Outer Hebrides
If you are looking to get away from it all and fancy having white sands and turquoise waters all to yourself, it couldn’t get much better than the isolated wilderness of the Hebrides. This area receives wind from the Atlantic but is also strangely the sunniest place in the UK. It is also full of rare species such as puffins, golden eagles, basking sharks and whales.
North Bay, Scarborough
For those who are tough enough to brave the waters of the north-east coast, North and South Bay are both good for kite-surfing. However, they are more suited to experienced kiters due to the strong currents and rocks that lurk beneath the surface and appear at low tide. Despite the bracing east winds, they are usually busy with wandering tourists scoffing ice-creams in kiss-me-quick hats.
Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
For somewhere that is so easy to access, this stretch of the welsh coastline hardly gets any visitors. On a glorious day you can literally have the golden sands and waves to yourself. If you really want to get back to nature, it is possible to wild camp right near the beach in the sand dunes. However, there are reefs around so it’s worth checking out the terrain at low tide. Beginners may prefer the nearby blue flag beach at Newgale.
Situated on the Norfolk coast, this beach is popular due to its west facing aspect, which catches plenty of sun. At low tide, this shoreline has smooth flat water thanks to its shallow seabed. This offers a more secure, comfortable environment for learners and is great for freestylers wanting to practise their tricks.
Gwithian Beach, Cornwall
This enormous stretch of north west-facing beach is arguably the best spot in England for kite-surfing. It also catches great swells from the Atlantic, which creates perfect peeling waves for those who want to move on from flat water sailing.
All photos: ©shutterstock