Posted by: brigid benson | February 18, 2015

Postcard from: Constantine Bay, North Cornwall

The saints, the surf, the sand dunes. Des Moore, Greg Noll and Jimi Hendrix!

Winter at Constantine Bay

Winter at Constantine Bay


There’s a curious mix of souls on the ravaged coast of north Cornwall. While the wild Atlantic Ocean hurls itself at sandy beaches and cowering coves, prime ministers and millionaires luxuriate in dreamy beach houses, and hardcore all-season surfers prowl narrow country lanes in rust bucket motors to assess the swell from beach to beach.

The parish of St Merryn is a surf magnet, boasting ‘Seven bays for seven days’:

  • Treyarnon
  • Trevone
  • Mother Ivys (yes really)
  • Harlyn
  • Boobys ( yes really)
  • Porthcothan
  • and Constantine, named after the Cornish King and Saint and home of the rare White Sandhill Snail Theba Pisana.

The ruins of a chapel and well dedicated to Saint Constantine can be tracked down on a footpath across the links of Trevose Golf Course.  A more contemporary place of pilgrimage is Des Mooore’s Constantine Bay Surf Store .

Among the suits: local hero Des Moore

Among the suits: local hero Des Moore

What Des doesn’t know about surfing this coast isn’t worth knowing.

Just about everyday he files a surf report from Constantine Bay, renowned for a classic beach break, hollow, fast and powerful with dangerous rips; this is no place for the uninitiated. Any beginner who longs to surf here is advised to sign up with Constantine Bay Surf School.

Des opened his bijou store in 1990 and can still be found behind the counter, though occasionally he takes flight in winter to surf bigger, warmer waves around the world. Look up and a clock on the wall reveals a favourite destination; Waimea Bay, Hawaii.

And the time in Waimea is...

And the time in Waimea is…

Look down and there’s an ocean of great surfing imagery at your feet. I love the collage floor of Des’ store; each image carefully selected and pasted down by Des. Even the patchy spots have artistic flair! I should add that these photos, all snapped on my phone camera, were taken the week before Des was about to revamp the floor.

A sea of iconic surfing imagery

A sea of iconic surfing imagery

Hard worn, still stylish!

Hard worn, still stylish!

Even Jimi Hendrix and Castles in the Sand

Lyrics too!

Check out Jimi’s Castles Made of Sand on Vimeo.

Iconic Greg Noll with his iconic long board

Iconic Greg Noll with his iconic long board

Spy big wave surfer Greg Noll, who grew up in Manhattan Beach in the 1940s and was among the first to stake a claim on the immense 25-30ft waves of Waimea Bay. Often photographed in his famous ‘jailhouse’ black and white stripe board shorts, Noll is a surfing legend who became a longboard shaper, crafting them lovingly with his son, Jed, in the family business: Noll Surfboards.

If funds don’t stretch to one of their collectors’ boards, save up, dream on and perhaps consider a ‘Big Drop’ poster meanwhile!


Dream on!

Dream on!

For more inspirational places in Cornwall and throughout Britain, see my beautiful award winning books from Amazon and bookstores

52 Weekends by the Sea

52 Weekends in the Country

And check out more great British adventures on my website at


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