Loco SUP owner Joe Thwaites gives us the bite size low down of his home spot – Tynemouth Longsands.
Tynemouth Longsands has long been an epicentre of North East surfing culture with a rich history of former surfing champs as well as up and coming talent consistently being nurtured in its cold brown waters. Situated just 7 miles from Newcastle City Centre Tynemouth has become popular with those looking for an adrenalin fix whether they’re professionals who commute into town for work and enjoy summer nights in the brine or students travelling to Tynemouth to surf or SUP. The village itself has a healthy mix of bars and restaurants offering the visiting SUPer plenty in the way of après-surf. The location sports a couple of surf schools, as well as being the spiritual home of UK paddle surf brand Loco.
It’s a beach break so provides a largely safe environment for those still mastering their SUP or surfing skills unless the forecast is huge then it tends to get messy with the bay simply not being able to handle that amount of water. There are usually two half decent waves that tend to work best on the tidal push – a left that goes from just in front of the café towards the pool (where the rip can take you back out often with dry hair if you’re half decent). You also get a right that goes from the back of Tynemouth Surf Co towards the north end of the beach.
Depending on the size of the swell and point of tide there are different routes out back. On a smaller day simply walk your board into the water and stroke out either stood up or on your knees. When it’s BIG use the rip near the pool or paddle out on your tummy in between the sets half way down the beach to access the right. In the summer months the RNLI watch over the beach so there is a designated ‘surf zone’ but this isn’t heavily policed and if you look like you know what you’re doing with the rip they’ll usually leave you be.
Not much in the way of changing facilities unless you do a surf lesson with Tynemouth Surf Co so make sure you bring a large towel to hide your modesty. There is a café right on the beach but it’s not particularly cheap and on a sunny day you’ll queue for 45mins getting a bag of chips. That said The Grand Hotel can be found at the top of the slope and prices and quality are a pleasant surprise. Those with a little more resolve may want to pop into Tynemouth itself where you’ll find more choice including a Co-Op. There’s also a Surf Café up on the prom which does a mean full English and sometimes has live music on over the weekends. Parking can be problematic on sunny summer days so visitors are advised to rock up early or face hours of driving around looking for a space or worse still get nobbled by the stealth parking ticket car at £70 no less!
There aren’t too many hazards to worry about at Longsands unless it’s really big then high tide can get dumpy and it’s quite easy to get caught on the inside and take a few heavy ones on the head so make sure you take a deep breath. For the improving paddle surfer I’d say don’t bother visiting on much more than a 2-3ft forecast as you’ll struggle to get out back. There are some rocks to the pool end of the beach and another set towards the north but both are easily visible so shouldn’t cause too much trouble. The beach has sen lots of jellyfish the last couple of years which seem to go as soon as they arrive but they can give you a nasty sting so make sure you cover your face, hands and feet if they’re around when you are. Apart from that check the water for rips before you head out as it’s easy to get stuck in one if you’re unfamiliar with coastal SUP. The prone surfing community are largely accommodating as most local paddlers surf with aloha so if you are visiting don’t take every wave or hog the peak or you’ll soon get shouted at. Similarly if you’re still learning stay away from the main line up or get some pointers from local SUP school www.boardskillz.co.uk.
If you’re looking for a relatively safe beach break to pit your paddle surfing skills against then Tynemouth can be great on smaller days when the swell is on and the wind is light offshore. The location has plenty of amenities within a short walk and you have Newcastle not too far away if you fancy a proper night out. Parking can be a pain in summer so get there early at the weekend and remember not to chance it in a back street they will ticket you! People are largely friendly and surfers will give you a fair shot as long as you play the game. Hiring performance kit is possible if you don’t have your own as too are lessons and SUP-Surfari options for small groups looking for less crowded/more sheltered breaks where they can really work on specific technique.