The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Cover Story -

Thurso East attracts world-class surfers and the Crib­ber surf-break off Newquay’s Fis­tral beach does pass­able im­i­ta­tions of Hawaii. Yet Porth­leven, south Corn­wall, is the wave to re­ally test your met­tle. It jacks sud­denly out­side the har­bour wall. Make the steep take-off and you’re in for a fast, in­tense ride with the chance of a bar­rel (where surfers ride within the curl of a break­ing wave). Get it wrong at low tide and you’ll end up pick­ing bar­na­cles from your fore­head. Do it at high tide and the At­lantic will slam you into the coast­line’s gul­lies.

The most dan­ger­ous wave in Bri­tain, agrees Roger Sharp, ed­i­tor of UK surf mag­a­zine Carve: “There are way more in­juries and bro­ken boards here than else­where.” Study the wave from the har­bour wall when it’s big and ask watch­ing surfers for tips – there are al­ways some when Porth­leven is pump­ing. Go­drevy beach is a tough, but a safer op­tion on the North Cor­nish coast.

As chal­leng­ing as the surf is catch­ing a wave be­fore the whip­sharp pack of lo­cals and pros de­scend. They may be do­ing you a favour. ● To find out more, see vis­it­corn­wall.com/ places/porth­leven as The Cat­walk, this is a 9a-graded route that only the best week­end he­roes can as­pire to climb. It’s not just a ques­tion of haul­ing your­self up the rock face with brute force; com­plet­ing its tech­ni­cal over­hang chal­lenges your mind as much as your mus­cles.

A grade too far? First stage Rain­dogs should be on ev­ery 8a climber’s wish list; a clas­sic en­durance route, with a pan­icky, power-sap­ping grab at the sum­mit. Ei­ther way, this is sport climb­ing at its best: sen­sa­tion­ally beau­ti­ful – an am­phithe­atre of rock arc­ing be­fore a pretty val­ley like a stage set for a swords-and-sandals epic – al­ways friendly. ● Visit the UK Climb­ing web­site (uk­climb­ing.com) for in­for­ma­tion on routes and lo­cal guides.

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