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The English love to surf, with more than 250,000 people taking to the water each year. The sport was first practised in the 1960s by small groups of enthusiasts in Cornwall and the Channel Islands before being popularised by lifeguards from Australia and South Africa, employed by the newly-formed Surf Lifesaving Association. The lifeguards arrived with bleached hair and Malibu boards right in the middle of the hippy revolution and Newquay began its transformation from small-time Cornish Victorian seaside resort into the surf capital of the UK.

Comprising a long and narrow finger of land that extends in a south-westerly direction, Cornwall is easily the most consistent region in England. Some spots, such as Sennen Cove, produce rideable surf virtually 365 days a year while others, such as Fistral and Porthleven, can achieve world class waves and have played host to international competitions.

Cornwall's neighbouring county, Devon, is home to some excellent points, a few good reefs and some powerful, consistent beaches such as Croyde and Saunton.

England's south coast is fickle, although there are several great spots in South Devon and Dorset, and Bournemouth is soon to see the completion of the first artificially created surf reef in the Northern Hemisphere, at Boscombe.

The surf in England's north-east is characterised by the region's geology - fingers of flat slate have created a number of good reef breaks, such as Hartley Reef, and long point breaks such as Huntcliff. The fine sediment turns northern waters a murky brown, but although they are not quite as glamorous-looking as the crystal clear waters of Cornwall the waves can be just as good and are a lot less crowded, especially as you travel north towards the Scottish border.

The water is always cold in England, although it can reach 16-18 degrees in late summer and autumn. Gloves, boots and hats are highly recommended in the winter months. Check out the UK beach guide for more info on the beaches in this part of the World.