As I banked around the tightening right hand bend on to the A30, my eyes flicked to the time displayed in ambient orange, barely visible in the afternoon spring sun currently burning through the screen of my car.
It would be close. At approximately two hours to go to my desired beach, yet again I found myself at the mercy of the British road network knowing that any hold ups would mean I wouldn’t arrive in time for an evening surf. As I approached an infamous set of roadworks, traffic seemed to lessen and I cruised through in unnerving ease.
Now in the knowledge that I would easily make it in time to paddle out, and with only half an hour until the keys turn off and I suit up, I grew that feeling that every surfer gets. A sense of inner excitement or anticipation of the session to come. The nerves, but also flicker of adrenaline that accompanies a sport where one pits themselves against the elements.
Following the coast road over the towering headland, the view was unreal. The road itself is almost a stereotype. Winding in and out of hollows, you crest over the headland to expansive views of the exposed beach and neighbouring cliffs. As the lowering spring sun was already casting an ethereal glow over the impeccable Cornish setting clean lines were pushing in, contorting over the sand banks that shaped and folded the swell into surfable waves. As the car came to rest on the sand-laden road, creaking after a solid 4-hour journey, I jumped out and suited up without even checking the surf. I could hear waves breaking, I’d seen them from the cliff, and by now I was so pumped to paddle out on my new Snell Brothers Surfboard that I’d gone completely negligent to my normal routine.
With four weeks to go I’d just received my board for the trip, an SBS Hero, a 5’10 shortboard that I certainly needed to practise riding before embarking on my journey. Things were coming together, and as I zipped up my Gul winter suit I childishly ran through the rocks and down to the beach, pausing only to strap on my leash before paddling out.
The sea is warming now, and it felt good to be paddling without gloves for the first time since November. The water was clear, crisp but refreshing, and with the lowering sun the setting was so inexplicably idyllic that it made it hard to focus on anything but the view. It was only a short session, opting to paddle in to capture the sunset rather than continue to surf, but it was up there with the most enjoyable times I have ever had out in the water.
All this and it wasn’t even the weekend yet! Driving into darkness, the inaugural BBQ of 2017 followed with great friends, before an evening of laughter and stories ensued until stars shone above the city balcony setting.
Saturday plans were simple: find a cliff, then jump off it! It was the hottest day of the year so far, and when sheltered from the stiff south-easterly it was easy to forget the calendar had only just turned over to April. Hiking through the bracken and overhanging trees somewhere on the south coast dropping in and out of hidden coves of white sand and undulating swells, we neared a spot that is close to my heart. A small inlet with a submerged beach at high tide, caves under the cliffs give way to a protruding headland that juts out over deep water. It the summer you can find as much sea-life here as I have ever seen. Barrel Jellyfish, cumbersome Spider Crabs, Brown Crabs and Lobsters, Seals and Porpoise, along with a multitude of rock and sand dwelling fish grace the cove throughout the calm summer months. As we lay in the sun, a pair of Peregrine Falcons held themselves in the breeze so motionless it almost took a double take to see they were real. That’s a new one for this cove, joining the ever lengthening list of natural wonders I have been a silent witness to here.
This cove is singlehandedly why I conceived the idea for my journey. It is inspiring to find nature as beautiful and vibrant as here, and my journey is about discovering what this coastline has to offer. There must be more of these spots on the coastline in the Southwest and my journey is about finding and experiencing these hidden gems that are some of the most beautiful environments on our planet.
For much of the day, we messed around in the sun and jumped off the cliffs, but with a receding tide and cooling breeze, we left the cove as empty as we found it for the next hikers to discover. I just look forward to the presence of this spot as I too hike my way along the coastal path come May.
As the sun again fell towards the horizon, colours shone across the bay and we fell silent in the breeze to simply take in the moment. This weekend is what it’s all about. It is adventure, laughter, friendships. It is being inspired by nature, in awe at times, and appreciating everything we are so fortunate to have. Whether you surf, you swim, you hike, or you simply enjoy the isolation and peace of this coastline, all bases were covered in a mere 24 hours from sunset to sunset.
I am now less than a month out from spending my entire waking days travelling across this coastline attempting to find exactly what I have done the past two days. It was exactly what I needed to inspire and motivate me to go on this journey. Resting with heavy eyes on the Saturday night, arms and legs weary, the taste of salt still on my lips, a sense of anticipation and adrenaline pushed through the fatigue. That, or maybe it was just the sunburn.