By Peter Hardie
The UK has a myriad of different kite spots for those with a decent wetsuit and an appetite for exploration. Traditional kite excursions from London usually take people to the choppy, shingle-covered beaches of the south coast. Just an hour and half from London, these locations offer great conditions occasionally but rarely provide those magic slick sessions people dream of.
Other kite trips may take people to Cornwall, on south-west coast of the UK. Five hours from London, the Cornish menu consists of large horseshoe bays, great surf, and rolling countryside. Indeed, those with a real passion for waves need look no further than here.
However, the real secret of UK kiteboarding lies in the Northeast. This area of England is more famous for its shipyards and overbearing industrial history than for its coastline and kiting. Nevertheless, this is an area of the world that is constantly underestimated.
Located about four hours north of the capital, the mouth of the river Tees offers up endless options for all types of riders. With two lagoons on either side of the headland offering waist deep flat water in various wind directions and several wave options on the surrounding reef, this spot known as South Gare provides endless opportunity for some great sessions.
The atmosphere here creates a rather different kiting experience. With a large steel works located a mile down the road, those on the hunt for a tropical session need not apply. However if you can see past the misleading surroundings, you are in for some epic sessions.
For a rather different session, you can travel a hour north of the Gare and explore the empty and beautiful Northumberland coast. This fantastic coastline is highly underrated and it is rare to share a session with anyone other than your friends and a few hardy locals.
The jewel in the crown is a tidal lagoon called Budle Bay. The lagoon works at all stages of the tide and in all wind directions (although some directions are a little gusty). Nestled in between the magnificent Bamburgh Castle and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne it truly is a breathtaking location. What’s more, the flat water riding here is superb with slicks that can match anywhere in the world.
Kiting in the northeast of England is about far more than the epic conditions available. Warm and cozy country pubs, friendly locals, and a real feeling of exploration greet the traveling kiter. For a destination just four-five hours from London, perhaps it’s worth packing your quiver next time you are planning a trip over the pond.
When to go: September to May offer the most wind, but avoid the depth of winter if you don’t like the cold.
Where to stay: There are several traditional villages and towns dotted along the coast. Check out the pubs and bed and breakfasts of Alnmouth for that classic British atmosphere. For those looking for a more exciting place, the city of Newcastle sits between the two spots and offers some of the best nightlife in the country – expect under dressed locals and cheap beer.
What to bring: Wetsuits are needed nearly year round – 3/2 is fine during autumn but bring plenty of rubber if coming in the middle of winter.
Local crew: Check out www.nekitesurfing.co.uk for some advice from the friendly locals.
Written by UK rider Pete Hardie, sponsored by REAL watersports & 21 Scars Kiteboarding.