When you think of Cornwall, you probably imagine warm, Summer days and long golden beaches. You might think of a lovely spring walk along the beautiful coastline, admiring the calm seas and light breeze. You probably don’t think of crashing waves and amazing storms lashing the dramatic coastline. You also wouldn’t consider going anywhere near these storms if you can help it. But for some, Cornwall’s storms hold an element of wild beauty and, of course, thrilling danger.
Cornwall has always been praised for its dramatic coastline and remembered for its unreliable weather. But after a wave of heavy storms in 2014, the county has seen a growing interest from ‘Storm Chasers’. These people follow storms around the country and beyond. Storms coupled with the beautiful Cornish coasts offer up amazing photo opportunities and a chance to enjoy the county in a very different way.
Storm chasing (or just watching) makes the most of any kind of weather that the county can throw at you. It’s a great way to get outside whilst staying by the sea even when the weather’s bad, just remember your waterproofs and to wrap up warm. Storm watching can also make a really fun game with kids, such as avoiding getting absolutely soaked by the sea spray from the waves. We have our favourite places to watch the storms: mainly from a cosy seaside cottage wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea but for the more adventurous these are some of our recommended places to experience a wild Cornish storm.
If you choose to join in on the excitement of watching a Cornish storm please make sure that safety is your first priority. It really isn’t worth the risk as the sea can be very unpredictable, particularly during bad weather. While watching a storm try to stay away from the waves, a little sea spray won’t hurt you but the power of a wave can drag even the strongest adult out to sea.
Throughout our (fairly short) storm watching careers, we’ve found that harbours make the perfect places to find the biggest waves. Porthleven harbour is the ultimate location for dramatic photos and plenty of excitement. The harbour wall provides the perfect conditions for the currents to swell and drive huge waves splashing over the town. When the wind picks up the waves can get up to the magnificent height of the clock tower on the edge of the harbour. Images from previous storms here have made the town a real landmark on the storm chasing map. Porthleven is a great place to get your junior storm chasers excited about the outdoors whilst staying safe on the other side of the harbour or up on the hills. An alternative harbour to try is Mousehole as the sea hits the high side of the harbour wall and cascades over, just make sure you’re not sat on the harbour wall when the storms come in.
On the north coast, you’re spoilt for choice for where to go first. Sennen cove and Portreath make excellent spots to witness the power of nature. Try to get as high as possible to watch the waves crashing up over the towns and to keep yourselves safe (and maybe a little drier) away from the swelling seas. For spectacular photos with a real Cornish edge head to Botallack to watch the sea wash over the old mining buildings. It’s surprising how these relics of Cornwall’s great mining industry have managed to survive for so long with such a regular battering from nature. Step back in time and take a moment to imagine what it would have been like to be mining in these conditions.
A dramatic spot for those feeling particularly brave is Lizard Point. The biggest challenge here is getting out of your car and making it down to the point without the wind knocking you over. Once down to the point you can either stick it out in the wild winds or take shelter in the little cafe for a cream tea while you watch the waves batter the cliffs. How cosy. Or if surfing is your thing, the legendary Cribbar, the UK's biggest surf break, in Newquay churns out some gnarly waves when there's a storm brewing. We'd definitely advise leaving the surfboard at home though and wave watching from a safe distance.
Storm watch from the comfort of your sofa in one of our cottages with sea views.