Croyde Bay - big boy waves
I met a man going, not to St Ives, but to Croyde Bay on the same half term weekend as us, who just happened to mention that the waves were forecast to be 7-10 feet. The BBC warned of torrential rain and had peppered its own forecast with little exclamation marks. Oh. October was always going to be a risk for a Croyde Bay beach holiday.
Lodge in the dunes
Still, we had booked a lodge this time, top of the range luxury accommodation with a dishwasher and decking (which I was determined to utilise whatever the weather) at the lovely Unison Bay Hotel, which sits right behind the dunes so you can run straight from the sea to your room in your wet suit for a hot shower to defrost.
There are rooms in the main building but the strengthened glass, pastel paint pallet, trolley-wide corridors and stannah lifts speak too closely of its history as some kind of institution. The chalets are better but are still a bit old school. The lodges win hands down.
We arrived in the pitch black, the winds shaking the tropical foliage trimming our lodge. Friends showed up throughout the evening at each others’ rooms with wild hair and trawlermen outfits.
Overnight 19 flood warnings were issued. The 24-hour incessant rain and the availability of Netflix was a sure fire recipe for a sofa based morning. As soon as the watery sheets relented, I popped on 3 hoodies and sat with a magazine on my decking. After about 15 minutes, acknowledging that I was too cold to really concentrate on the words, I ventured out over the sandy dune path to check out the sea on my beach holiday.
Croyde Bay beach - stormy day
Was very impressed to meet 2 of our party coming back from having surfed in the eye of the storm only leaving as the lifeguards closed the beach. Was then witness to 2 sea-rescues as surfers, who hadn’t got out in time, were rip whipped off, past the rocks at the end of the bay.
The gale howled and the sky spat like the air was having a fight with itself as I struck out for Baggy Point, sinking into a John Cleese-like low centre of gravy style of walking, leaning bodily into the cliff edge and ending on the actual ground at the Point itself.
The ferocity of the wind had the bonus of banishing some of the cloud cover, creating a celestial sunset for the surviving surfers. It had also, with a little help from the flooding, blown the sand around into new mini precipices, leaving the RNLI vanman scratching his head trying to work out how the hell he was going to get his truck off the beach.
The children spent the evening running amok to and from the games room and playing Knock Knock Ginger, to the annoyance of most of the other residents.
Surfing - not USA but Croyde Bay
Day 3 and, miraculously, the sun appeared for the last 3 hours before checkout. The clocks changing had kindly given us a bonus surf window. After some sand dune running, the boys sensibly went for the pool option, while the adults gamely entered the near-November seas en masse. The titanic waves had calmed down a bit but I did actually scream catching one of them.
Afterwards, I did the traditional run through the dunes and had a coffee on the decking in my wetsuit in the sun. Job done.
Just enough time left to lose a child in the sand dunes at Saunton on the way home.
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