Pete Ellerton used to run a surf school at Westport Beach on the west coast of Kintyre. He's been surfing for over 25 years.
As we approach the summer months, the warmer weather approaches, the sea begins to warm a little and conditions mellow. It’s time to get in the water! At 10 degrees Celsius in May, you’ll still need a thick winter wetsuit and boots, although on a calm sunny day you can do without the gloves and hood which, while keeping you vitally warm, will have restricted your senses and made surfing a little clumsier during the colder months.
Kintyre is a surfing gem, providing waves for all abilities. A narrow window between the north tip of Ireland and the southern point of Islay allows Atlantic swell through to hit the west coast. From Machrihanish to Glenbarr, beautiful beaches convert the swell into waves fit for beginner and expert alike.
From now until August, the waves will tend to be smaller, sometimes dwindling to little or nothing for periods. For the last couple of years there have been few days when there is nothing at all to play on, and the smaller waves can be a lot of fun! The beach population swells as people feel the warmth and yearn to feel the sand between their toes.
Numbers in the water will rise too, but rarely to the point of crowded. And there are summer gems to be found on the quieter stretches, even on the most crowded summer day.
Gentler conditions make summer a perfect time for learning to surf. As a beginner, stick to the main spots at Westport and Machrihanish.
Be careful though – this is the Atlantic, and you should always take certain precautions before getting in the water:
- Have the right equipment for your ability and the conditions, in good order.
- Make sure you know about the hazards at the beach and in the water – a surf lesson will teach you about this. Ask the advice of local people.
- Don’t go in alone, or at least have someone observing you from the beach.
- If in doubt, don’t go in. This way, you’ll have a ball and stay safe!
Post-surfing, good food and drink is the order of the day. From Westport Beach, why not travel north to Bellochantuy and the Argyll Hotel, where you can get lovely food right on the beach? A couple of miles further on is Glenbarr Stores, offering amazing treats and a great cup of coffee whilst you browse the stores and garden shop. South of Westport is the Tin Roof Diner, where your hardest job will be to pick which of the lovely dishes on offer to go for.
Summer – the perfect chance to sample surfing on the lovely beaches of Kintyre. See you in the water!