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Scotland - Wales To Thurso // Chasing Surf In Scotland

Killvan's Scotland. A tale of a solo road trip to the top of the United Kingdom, seeking the rich experience of riding waves in Thurso East, Scotland.


It started in Wales, the idea to go and surf Thurso East that is. I don't have anything against the Welsh, but it was moulded boredom down here, and the need to seek a higher heart rate was strong, I simply had to escape. Morning after morning I had the routine of eating microwave warm gruel, showering and walking up to the local library to organise some things back home. I guess it was my fault for turning Wales into a dead end, it was maybe an opportunity gone begging, perhaps I subconsciously canned it as a surfing destination before crossing the border.

My accommodation was neat, bunkered down in a Shauns apartment in Cardiff. Shaun was working as an engineer on exchange, a rock climber in his break out time with hands like vice grips and a square jawline. He was an impressive young man, and he was a good person to call a friend, especially to a wandering surfer on the road. From how I saw it a surfer can get real lonely in the UK, this place doesn't foster inspiration like other surfing locations, and Shaun was a friend who replaced what was missing with his brand of humour and strength. I had no idea how he could handle such boxed grey living, to me he was like an animal who'd designed a human life. A few times during my stay in their small apartment he showed images of himself swinging one armed from a cliff edge, hundreds of feet above the tree line. Shaun was perhaps slowly losing it in Wales, though I wasn't going to stick around and see how it turned out.

I'd grabbed a map and traced the yellow line with my finger, it was thick and ran from Wales in a north easterly direction for a good 500 miles or more. M4, M5, M6, highway numbers that would enable quick progress towards the roof of the United Kingdom. I knew nothing about where I was headed except it was cold, and that there was a classic right hander, apparently one of the best waves in Europe on its day. I'd come across from Heathrow into Cardiff, and guessed that anything but a highway wouldn't be of value, so I chose to stick to the expressway. The countryside seemed to blend from one farm to the next, a small stonewall then on to a field of yellow flowers and so on. A scenic slipstream flashing rich colour which became a blur of consistency after a few hours. I had refrained from smoking weed and drinking booze, something I started doing to pass the boredom while driving about the place. Clear headed was then a time to ponder life, big questions were asked and the stream of normalised consciousness complimented the environment.

The air that pushed through the vents from the dashboard was cool, the engine warming it slightly. The drivers compartment reverberated from the engine which sat in the centre console, it created a pressurised situation that simulated a long haul airline flight. The van was old and had holes all through it, at times it billowed when a lorry rushed by and it was noisy, almost too noisy to carry on a conversation if I was fortunate enough to have a passenger riding shotgun. Though I wasn't, and wouldn't likely to be. This scoot north was always going to be a lonely ride, and this van most likely looked like a people smugglers van full of eastern European refugees, scaring even me at times.

The desire to paddle into a slimy green wave in Scotland grew stronger as the path north gradually became isolated, the highways branched off from one another, the fields became less structured and the small towns became more intriguing, seemingly more real. Though slowing down gave time to read shop fronts and meet the eyes of locals. Eight or so hours from Wales and I was surely some place else, somewhere new, the path to Thurso was long yet real. Stopping every few hundred miles I hadn't yet really snapped out of the airplane like trance, that was until I stopped in for gas in Wick, not until I took a true breath of the high Scottish air in the north.


I took a while to get out of Wales, but didn't take long to get into Scotland.

 

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LOCATION OVERVIEW

Location: Scotland, Thurso.
Optimum: September & October
Weather: July to October are the warmer months, the others are simply frigid. Towards the end of the year is the better surfing window.
Surf Conditions: Beachbreaks, Reef Breaks, Point Breaks. Cold and lonely and cold but such a unique thing to experience.
Access: Get yourself into Glasgow, Edinburg or Aberdeen and dive on up to the top of the world.
Accomodation: Holiday Rentals, Motels Hotels. It's a small town, so don't expect anything too grand.
Live Free:  6/10.  Rich in history, bound by the elements.

 

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