Big Surf at Crackington Haven

Yesterday afternoon I packed my bodyboarding gear into the back of Lisa the LEAF and headed for Crackington Haven. I decided not to don my 5/4/3 winter wetsuit and head out into the pounding surf. However my trip was certainly not wasted:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1498255510642073605

According to the Wikipedia article on the “Geology of Dartmoor National Park” :

The Tavy Basin comprises an upper Devonian and Carboniferous sequence of mudstones and sandstones, together with chert. The Kate Brook Slate Formation is of Famennian age and consists of greenish-grey and black slates representing an outer shelf facies. The Crackington Formation which is a Namurian age turbidite deposit consisting of dark grey shales with sandstone layers.

A Big Swell Hits North Cornwall

The Magic Seaweed surf forecast for today promised the arrival of a new long period swell:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1459833492804620293

Plan A for today involved getting in the water and out back before said swell arrived.

When that failed to materialise plan B involved heading for spot M with video recorder and tripod in rucsack.

When that failed to materialise plan C involved heading for high tide Crackington Haven. When that did materialise here are the sights that met our sore eyes:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1459989890049925132

We also recorded some moving pictures, including sound effects:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1460182222351351811
https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1460360741643599886

Finally, for the moment at least, the almost imperceptible damage to my left arm after the almost undetectable injection of what ultimately turned out to be a dose of the Moderna mRNA Covid-19 vaccine for my booster jab:



More Pollution on North Cornwall Beaches

Another downpour last night has resulted in all too familiar news this morning. Here’s the NetWeather.TV rain radar view of Cornwall at 9 PM last night:

Davidstow is under all that rain dropping cloud somewhere! This morning there are flood warnings in place for North Devon, and flood alerts across North Cornwall:

What’s more the Surfers Against Sewage map reveals that nearly all the beaches in North Cornwall also have water quality warnings in place:

The little low tide “beach” at Trebarwith Strand is currently clear, but Watergate Bay is not.

[Edit – October 26th]

Here is Baroness Jones from the Green Party explaining the problem on BBC Newsnight:

[Edit – October 28th]

The heavens have opened over North Cornwall yet again:

As a seemingly inevitable consequence flood alerts have now been issued for the middle and upper River Tamar, amongst other places:

P.S. The heavy rain has continued:

Flood warnings have now been issued for several rivers just over the border into Devon:

According to the Environment Agency: Flooding is expected. Act now!

A flood warning means you need to act: flooding is expected. You should do all the actions for a flood alert, but also:

  • move vehicles to higher ground if it’s safe to do so
  • move family and pets to safety
  • move important items upstairs or to a safe place in your property, starting with cherished items and valuables, then furniture and furnishings
  • turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it’s safe to do so; never touch an electrical switch if you’re standing in water
  • if you have property protection products such as flood barriers, or air brick covers, use them now
  • keep track of the latest flood risk situation

[Edit – October 30th]

This seems to be the meat of the letter I received from Scott Mann MP a couple of days ago:

The facts are that we have a combined sewer system in this country, meaning rainwater and sewage both flow into it. This means that heavy rain and storms can lead to additional pressure on the system that needs to be released”. lt is not a coincidence that discharges happen most often during or after a storm. lf this pressure is not discharged the wastewater – including sewage – will back up into the streets and into people’s homes. This is not hyperbolic; it is a fact. The age of this Victorian sewerage system means that the complete elimination of storm overflows would be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, they have always been a part of our wastewater infrastructure and until now little action has been taken by any government or party.

One of the recent amendments in the Lords would have required work to be done to eliminate sewage discharges, and I was one of several hundred MPs who opposed it. Initial estimates of the work necessary to achieve this are in the region of £150 billion and upwards. To put that in perspective, this is more than the entire budget of the NHS. These costs would inevitably be passed onto taxpayers or water bill payers. No sensible legislator could have backed this. I am of the view that the water companies should foot the bill for improvements over time and not the taxpayer, so these improvements must be manageable.

That rather begs the question about where we would be now if the necessary improvements had been started a decade or two ago? And indeed what the actual cost would be in today’s day and age!

[Edit – November 1st]

This tweet from Professor Dieter Helm seems apposite at this juncture?

[Edit – November 3rd]

After almost continuous heavy rain, hopefully the end is in sight for the current series of pollution incidents on the beaches of North Cornwall. Several beaches are not being monitored at this time of year, but currently Widemouth Bay and Trevone are the only ones still marked in red on the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:

Hopefully those two will get the all clear tomorrow

[Edit – November 5th]

In answer to my question above about “the actual cost of the necessary improvements to the UK’s ageing sewage infrastructure”, the Government has just announced:

An independent research project that considers options, costs and benefits for reducing storm sewage discharges in England.

Reducing sewage discharges from storm overflows is an important priority to protect the environment.

This research, the first assessment of its kind, was commissioned by the Storm Overflows Taskforce – made up of Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, CCW, Blueprint for Water and Water UK – and funded by Water UK.

The independent research, carried out by Stantec, presents a detailed overview of potential approaches that will act as an important evidence base for government action.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce will now consider the report and its recommendations to:

  • support the development of the best mix of policy solutions
  • inform the government plan on storm overflows to be published in September 2022.

The report itself evaluates the costs and benefits of a range of scenarios. The methodology used is summarised like this:

The policies tested consider the universal implementation of permits to control storm overflow spill frequency to an average of either 40, 20, 10, 5 or 0 (zero) times per year (named F40, F20, F10, F5 and F0, respectively).

Three scenarios are also considered, describing the engineering approach used to deliver policies. The first relies on a conventional approach to capture spills from storm overflows using network storage (W) which is sized sufficiently to capture spills and allow for these to slowly return to the sewer network for treatment.

The other two augment the conventional approach with partly or wholly nature-based technologies (retrofitted SuDS) at two levels: 10 percent of impermeable area controlled (S10) and 50 percent of impermeable area controlled (S50). In this context, controlled means that these flows do not enter the combined sewer system. The SuDS solutions are implemented in addition to sewer network storage; therefore creating mixed grey-green solutions. The S10 level of SuDS is at a modest level across the catchment, whilst the S50 level is at a high level. Controlling runoff from 50% of impermeable area (S50) is broadly equivalent to preventing all highway runoff entering combined sewers in a fully combined catchment.

The costs of the various approaches are summarised in the following infographic:

There seem to be a wide range of available options that cost considerably less than £150 billion, and that’s before accounting for the associated benefits.



Bodyboarding A Big Swell at Widemouth Bay

A big swell was forecast to arrive on the coast of North Cornwall last weekend:

Discretion is the better part of valour, especially at our advanced age. Hence we merely admired it from afar on Friday evening:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1446814206628663301

The waves were significantly smaller on Saturday, so the Davidstow.info editor-in-chief and artist-in-residence packed our gear into Lisa, our Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, and headed for Widemouth Bay:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1447177464556494850

We even managed to record some moving pictures of the scene at the seaside, as did Dave at Watergate Bay!

P.S. We also managed to record some video footage whilst immersed in the Atlantic Ocean. In episode one your intrepid editor inadvertently found himself in the midst of a sizeable closeout, and managed to breathe in some seawater of hopefully unadulterated quality:

Whereas in episode two:



A G7 Surf Session at Watergate Bay

The swell was onshore and the wind was light and sometimes offshore along the North Cornwall coast on Sunday 13th June:

Hence we headed to the coast for an afternoon bodyboarding session at Watergate Bay, which also allowed us to wave goodbye to some of the global leaders departing these shores at the conclusion of the 2021 G7 Summit:

Here are some views I recorded out in the surf:

Here are some more we took on the beach:

We also created a sand art message for (probably brief) posterity, albeit invisible to those high above us:

Meanwhile according to The Guardian:

The G7 summit ended with rich nations reaffirming their goal to limit global heating to 1.5C, and agreeing to protect and restore 30% of the natural world by the end of this decade, but failing to provide the funds experts say will be needed to reach such goals.

Boris Johnson badly needed a successful G7 deal on climate finance to pave the way for vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, to be held in Glasgow this November. Climate finance is provided by rich countries to developing nations, to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of climate breakdown, and was supposed to reach $100bn a year by 2020, but has fallen far short.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “The G7 have failed to set us up for a successful Cop26, as trust is sorely lacking between rich and developing countries.”

Without stronger commitments on climate finance, Johnson will face an uphill struggle in getting support for any Cop26 deal from the developing world, who make up the majority of countries at the UN climate talks and who will make or break any deal there.

The prime minister was left to re-announce previously allocated cash, in the form of a £500m blue planet fund for marine conservation, already set out last year, while the other G7 members refused to stump up funds. About $2bn is to be provided to help countries phase out coal-fired power generation, but it is not clear whether this is new money.

The 2021 G7 Summit in Cornwall

The forthcoming summit of the G7 nations is taking place on the north coast of Cornwall, just down the road from Davidstow . According to the G7 UK web site:

In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome fellow G7 leaders to one of the most beautiful parts of the UK: Carbis Bay in Cornwall.

Other parts of the region will also play a key role in the Summit, including neighbouring St Ives, Falmouth and Newquay airport.

With over 400 miles of coastline, Cornwall’s stunning landscape provides a perfect setting for world leaders to come together and discuss how to respond to global challenges like coronavirus and climate change.

Here’s one of my recent pictures of some of that coastline, including part of Cornwall’s industrial heritage and some large waves!

Cornwall Council has recently issued guidance about the G7 summit, which is likely to be of interest to both residents and visitors to the area over the next couple of weeks. Here it is:

https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-news/g7-cornwall-2021/

Here too are the maps detailing the forthcoming restrictions on your movements around St. Ives, Newquay Airport and Falmouth during the summit:

Here too is an image from a recent article in The Guardian:

Devon and Cornwall force expect challenges ranging from foreign leaders’ security to gull attacks on drones.

The police force in charge of law and order at the G7 summit in Cornwall has said it faces challenges ranging from the “tricky” business of liaising with foreign leaders’ security details to not wrecking people’s holidays – and stopping gulls from attacking their drones.

Devon and Cornwall police, which is leading the operation for next month’s summit, said officers, backed by military planners and intelligence agencies, would patrol from the land, air and sea to keep the event safe.

On Tuesday it allowed reporters to watch firearms officers going through their paces and drone pilots practising their skills as final preparations were made for the largest operation in its history.

Officers fired Heckler and Koch G36 carbines and Glock pistols in an indoor range at the force’s headquarters in Exeter. They will also have access to a range of other equipment including baton rounds, typically used in riot control, Taser stun guns, smoke and stun grenades and incapacitant spray.

It probably makes sense to stay away from those areas over the long weekend of the G7 event, unless you have a particular reason to go there? Surfing Watergate Bay certainly looks to be fraught with difficulty!

What Constitutes a “Reasonable Excuse”?

This article is reproduced by kind permission of our sister website CoV-eHealth.org, for the benefit of surfers, coast path walkers and moor hikers resident in and around Camelford, North Cornwall. And elsewhere I suppose.

The United Kingdom’s National Police Chief’s Council has published new guidance on what constitutes a “reasonable excuse” to leave your residence during the current novel coronavirus lockdown. You can download a copy from:

https://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/COVID-19/Documents/What-constitutes-a-reasonable-excuse.pdf

Of particular interest to me as a “silver surfer” is the part that states:

Exercise can come in many forms, including walks.

Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise.

It is lawful to drive for exercise.

Whilst surfing is not explicitly mentioned in the new document the current Police Commander for Cornwall has previously issued guidance on that form of exercise for the county:

According to “Cornwall’s top cop” before the new guidance was published:

Police BCU Commander for Cornwall, Temporary Chief Superintendant Ian Drummond-Smith said the recent guidance from the London-based National Police Chiefs Council was consistent with what his officers were doing on the ground but he reiterated that the public should not try and take advantage of the guidance.

He said: “Surfing has not been banned. It’s exercise and in Cornwall we know it’s a popular exercise. People can still surf. The question of driving a reasonable distance as per the NPCC guidelines, is ‘how far is reasonable’.

“The NPCC guidelines does not say whether you can or cannot drive to do your exercise. I am telling my officers people can surf and some may well drive to surf.”

Now all we denizens of the North Coast need to do is wait for the swell to be onshore and the wind to be offshore once again.

And to stay well over 2 meters away from anybody else with the same idea at the same time at the same beach!

Surfing ex Hurricane Lorenzo’s swell at Summerleaze Beach in Bude!

As discussed in the article describing my surfing session in Newquay earlier this year, the images below are from beyond the parish of Davidstow. However Summerleaze Beach in Bude is an even easier drive from here for any visitors staying in the Davidstow area:

Not only is there surf when the wind and North Atlantic swells permit, there is also the much calmer Bude Sea Pool (almost) all day, every day:

If you’re very lucky, as I was this weekend, you may even find yourself in the midst of an art installation on your next trip up the A39 Atlantic Highway!

If you’re actually in or near Bude and/or Davidstow this weekend more information about the Reflect Arts+Minds Project can be found at:

https://www.reflectaamp.org

Surfing Lusty Glaze in a February Heat Wave!

The images below are from beyond the parish of Davidstow, but Lusty Glaze beach just this side of Newquay is an easy drive from here for any visitors staying in the Davidstow area:

Apart from the rather bare beach that may look like the end of August but actually the pictures were taken on February 27th 2019, towards the end of the “heat wave” that produced the warmest English February temperatures since the United Kingdom’s Met Office records began:

However the water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of North Cornwall are currently nowhere near those that will be achieved by the end of August! Hence my neoprene hood to keep the dreaded “surfer’s ear” at bay!

This was the Magic Seaweed north coast surf forecast for last Wednesday:

Surf’s Up at Black Rock

These images are from beyond the parish of Davidstow, but the long beach at Widemouth Bay is a mere 15 minutes drive up the Atlantic Highway for any visitors to the area:

This was the Magic Seaweed surf forecast that tempted us away from Tremail:

Despite my advanced age and the impressive waves I somehow managed to battle my way out back! I patiently bobbed about on my sponge waiting for the perfect set. Eventually it arrived and I was in the perfect place!

Then a young gun on a pointy thingumajig took off just inside me.