Every year in Cornwall, thousands of people brave the water at Christmas-time to go swimming in the sea, looking to kick-start their recovery after over-indulging, or get a natural high from an encounter with the elements. There is no doubt it’s cold, but for coastal-dwellers it’s an instinctive way of celebrating their surroundings and the benefits of the Cornish lifestyle at this special time of year.
We’ve put together a list of swims to help you find your local crew of foolhardy adventurers, whichever corner of the county you find yourself in this Christmas. However, a word of warning: some of these swims are ‘organised’ and will have safety precautions in place, others have just grown organically and may not have any lifeguard cover or first aid presence. The message is, know your limits – especially as wetsuits are usually frowned-upon!
Sennen Cove – Christmas Day
Charge into the sea at 11am on Christmas morning at Sennen Cove in the farthest reaches of West Cornwall. The locals have been doing this for decades, and it’s grown and grown into an event which attracts hundreds of hedonists. Arrive early and park in the car park at the top of the hill, as it gets very busy.
St Ives, Porthminster Beach – Boxing Day
Porthminster Beach is the setting for this local extravaganza of sea-swimming, and the good news here is that wetsuits are welcome! Donations of £1 are invited to raise money for an annual charity of choice, and bacon butties and hot chocolate are available from the beach-side takeaway to help you warm up afterwards.
Gylly Beach, Falmouth – Christmas Day
Many people of all ages take to the water every day in Falmouth; it’s a strong local tradition. On Christmas Day these dedicated, hardy individuals are joined by hoards of others, marking the festive celebration with a morning dip.
St Agnes, Trevaunance Cove – Christmas Day
This swim grew organically out of a previous landlady’s challenge to a couple of locals to take an importune dip on Christmas Day. Hence Trevaunance is yet another Cornish cove where you’ll find community spirit alive and kicking on Christmas Day – especially in The Driftwood Spars afterwards,
Charlestown – Boxing Day
Hundreds of people take to the water in the historic port of Charlestown every Boxing Day. If you over-indulged on Christmas Day, this could be the perfect antidote!
Crookletts Beach, Bude – Christmas Day
This annual event (no wetsuits allowed!) raises essential funds for the Bude Surf Life-Saving Club. Lifeguard safety cover, changing facilities, hot drinks, minced pies and sausage rolls are all provided – all you have to do is brave the icy waters!
Polzeath, Hayle Bay – Christmas Day
This beach lies close to Polzeath, New Polzeath and Trebetherick and is seldom deserted… even in winter. On Christmas Day you can expect to see over four hundred people taking part in this annual event, and wetsuits are strictly forbidden!
For more details on all of the above, visit the UK Wild Swim Website, where you’ll find start times and useful links for further information.
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