GALLERY: Three Days of Gold From England's South West

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 128d ago

Finally. That 50mph wind blew through, the storms raged and quit, and the swell stacked up across the south west UK. Last week, that little corner of the earth was kissed by three days of glorious offshore conditions, with some winter sun to boot.

This run of swell kick started on Tuesday – but the wind was funky... swell was in the water though. Wednesday though, ooooeee, waves were solid all day in some spots – albeit, with a bit of wonk still mixed in from the previous day's winds. If you'd taken the day off work and got to the shore, you probably thought it was all a bit of a hoax -- having to wait 20 minutes plus for the sets to come through, due to the long period swell.

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See the swell shot well north of the UK south west. That long swell period would have meant a lull between sets but fine wind and a decent size when they happened.

See the swell shot well north of the UK south west. That long swell period would have meant a lull between sets but fine wind and a decent size when they happened.

Wednesday morning. You see, the size was there, the swell was there - but a little bit of a wonk to kick off the swell run. Watergate.

Wednesday morning. You see, the size was there, the swell was there - but a little bit of a wonk to kick off the swell run. Watergate.

© 2022 - Clare James.

When they rifled to shore though. sets were well overhead, cleaning out the lineup of those lured into a false sense of security, sitting in a bit. As the day panned out on the north coast of Cornwall, things only got glassier.

Dawn mist.

Dawn mist.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

Forecast: Fistral

Before all this though Seb Smart made the most of those 50mph wind and gigantic swell, finding a hidden corner.

Before all this though Seb Smart made the most of those 50mph wind and gigantic swell, finding a hidden corner.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

Nye Campbell.

Nye Campbell.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

And that lasted well into the weekend. We know young phenom Lukas Skinner and photographer Luke Gartside went on a bit of a goose chase. We know a premier reef wasn't all-time, but a good size and a great opening day of 2022. A few of the beachies had a little more juice in them than originally forecast – that was due to the slight north in the swell that shot gunned waves to shore.

Ben Norton.

Ben Norton.

© 2022 - Jason Dryer.

Lukas Skinner, grom, lofty heights.

Lukas Skinner, grom, lofty heights.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

But this storm actually began brewing more than a week before it hit. And that's why it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the long-range forecast.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

As MSW forecaster Tony Butt says: “A low pressure started to form off Newfoundland on January 8. Over the next day or so, it moved out into the Atlantic, got much bigger and travelled north, sitting just to the east of Greenland by the end of Sunday 9.

Classic fold in a rugged locale.

Classic fold in a rugged locale.

© 2022 - Tom Vaughan.

Tom Earl.

Tom Earl.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

“It then moved northeast towards Iceland, bringing with it strong winds to the southern, which helped generate swell. The main bulk of that swell then travelled towards the far north, but a considerable amount also spread out towards the southeast, arriving in the southwest UK on Tuesday 11.

Live cam: Croyde

Nathan Phillips.

Nathan Phillips.

© 2022 - Jason Dryer.

Ben Skinner.

Ben Skinner.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

“While all this was going on, another area of high pressure shifted from the Azores eastwards towards Portugal, then got bigger in the north. By late Tuesday and early Wednesday, it was centred over the Celtic Sea, creating very light wind conditions over southwest England and southern Ireland.

Surrounded by a working harbour and rugged tin-cliffs.

Surrounded by a working harbour and rugged tin-cliffs.

© 2022 - Tom Vaughan.

Seeking out a pot of gold.

Seeking out a pot of gold.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

“In Cornwall, the beginning of the swell coincided with some left over swell and winds from a previous system, but conditions quickly cleaned up, (that would be that slightly funky day on Tuesday) with some good surf late in the day, particularly at west-facing spots.

“The swell peaked overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, with wave heights around six feet at exposed spots and periods of around 16 secs. It then tapered down very gradually during the rest of the week, falling below three feet at most spots by late Saturday.

© 2022 - Tom Vaughan.

© 2022 - Luke Gartside.

“That high pressure persisted, keeping wind conditions excellent, with light east or southeast most of the time, picking up a bit on Friday as the centre of the high drifted slightly east.”

Keep an eye on your local forecasts for way more coming in too.

North Devon.

North Devon.

© 2022 - Alan Danby.

Local surf coach and all-round ripper Johnny Fryer.

Local surf coach and all-round ripper Johnny Fryer.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

'Yeah it's bigger on the sets'.

'Yeah it's bigger on the sets'.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.

© 2022 - Mike Newman.