You can now stay at The Wave, a £ 25million man-made lake in Bristol that has become the UK’s surfing mecca
Traditional destinations for a “surf safari” range from Hawaii to the coast of Peru. Granted, I don’t remember the Beach Boys ever performing on the northwest suburbs of Bristol.
And yet here we are, a mile or two from the M5, M4 and M49 motorways, watching swarms of men and women clad in wetsuits make their way along a seemingly endless succession of turquoise waves. perfect.
A few hundred yards away is a luxury tent where our “quiver” of surfboards stands ready for action. If all goes as planned, we will watch the sunset on the tent’s pretty wooden veranda.
Catch the Waves: Surfers at The Wave – a giant pizza slice-shaped swimming pool in Bristol where a reverb machine can spin surferable waves
I plan to drink a restorative beer and talk to my exhausted wife and kids about the thrills, spills and erasures of our respective teatime surf sessions.
This might sound like an odd scenario, given that the closest thing to a local beach is the Severn Estuary. But lately has transformed this previously unattractive corner of the West Country into the surfing mecca of England.
The man in charge is Nick Hounsfield. In 2010, he was just a middle-aged osteopath. Then he stumbled across a video on the internet showing how engineers had built a working artificial surf lake in the Spanish Basque Country.
The waves of The Wave are produced from dawn to dusk, seven days a week
Inspired by his late father, who on his deathbed told Nick to do something “big and bold,” he decided to create a version on low-grade farmland near Avonmouth.
Nine years and £ 25million later, he opened The Wave, a giant pizza slice-shaped swimming pool where a reverberation machine can produce a thousand perfectly surfable waves every hour from dawn to dusk, seven days on seven. .
Nick is busy turning The Wave into a vacation destination in its own right. Now visitors can spend the night in a chic glamping establishment close enough to the lake to hear the endless screams and screams.
It’s called The Camp at The Wave, and my wife, Katie, and our three little ones – William, ten, Megan, eight, and Henry, five, help me test the place on the road during its opening weekend.
Our house for the night is less Hi-de-Hi !, more Out Of Africa: one of 25 mega-tents containing three bedrooms, living room with fully functional kitchen and wood-burning stove, plus wi-fi, charging of electricity. iPhone outlets and a slightly terrifying eco-friendly toilet that incinerates its contents with the push of a button.
The tents can accommodate eight people at a time (it’s a matter of transforming the living room sofa into a bed) and are accessed by a network of wooden walkways lit by hundreds of garlands after dark. Everything is solar powered and ultra-sustainable.
By the lake there is a real buzz, with crowded bars and a daily rotation of lessons (for beginners) and sessions for all the other surfers. The machines have a variety of settings that can produce waves from 50cm to 2m high.
Guy Adams of the Daily Mail with his children Henry, Megan, William and his wife Katie. They spent the night in a chic glamping facility close enough to the lake to hear the endless screams and screams.
Tents can accommodate up to eight people and cost from £ 105 per night (£ 200 per night in summer) with a minimum stay of two nights on weekdays and three nights minimum on weekends.
Surf sessions (one hour) cost from £ 50 for adults and £ 40 for children in high season. Beginners courses (1.5 hours) start at £ 60 for adults and £ 50 for children in high season (thewave.com, 0333 016 4133).
Hour-long sessions cost from £ 40 for children and £ 50 for adults in high season, with wetsuits, boards and any other kits included. They tend to fill up weeks in advance, but residents of The Camp are given priority booking.
Katie takes William and Megan for an introductory lesson with Emily, a bubbly Welsh surfing champion whose infectious enthusiasm makes them smile like Cheshire cats.
After half an hour of practice on dry land, they wade through water up to their waist – magic! – they all manage to “catch”, “pop up” and ride a series of waves up to their knees.
Thanks to a vaguely poorly spent youth, I am a reasonable amateur surfer (if unfit), so I booked an intermediate session. In an exhilarating hour, I can ride more waves than I would expect to board on a weekend in Cornwall.
Nick’s vision is for The Wave to become a sort of comprehensive wellness retreat, where visitors book a few surf sessions a day and spend the rest of their time taking yoga classes or visiting expansive playgrounds. adventure parks and skate parks, which he hopes to build in the next few months.
For the youngest – you have to be six years old and able to swim 25 meters to surf – there are “play in the bay” sessions, where beach toys are placed.
I would be happy to stay by the water for days. But those with itchy feet can venture to the Aerospace Bristol Museum to see the latest Concorde manufacture, or Bristol Zoo.
After a busy afternoon, we emerge from the water with arms that look like spaghetti and stomachs in a hurry to fill up in the excellent “beach” restaurant. Before we retire to our mega-tent, I allow the kids to order a round of huge sundaes. We probably earned it.