Our stores have always been hubs for our customers to connect. Each store is different and has a unique community, so we decided to sit down with some of our store managers and get the inside line on what adventures are on offer in their local area.
Our Exeter store manager Duncan is perpetually roaming the Devonshire countryside, from Dartmoor to the North Coast beaches. Below, he walks us through his top picks for easily accessible microadventures around the city.
I remember stumbling across Finisterre in 2012 when they shared a shop with Gulfstream surfboards in Braunton, North Devon. On the assumption that it was a Nordic brand I was surprised when I discovered that it was indeed a British company based in Cornwall. Having worked in retail for years, and being part of the surf scene around North Devon, the product and the brand spoke to me loud & clear, and I invested in the first incarnation of the Etobicoke jacket. The need for that warm insulated jacket for post winter surfs was a must, something to throw straight on in the middle of sideways rain and below zero windchill.
A large part of me craves adventure. I love being outdoors, whether that’s connecting with the sea through surfing, hiking with friends, or fishing on my local rivers; it’s all about finding places to escape and appreciate nature. We are so lucky in the south west, with many locations right on our doorstep.
Surf Seeking in North Devon
I was lucky enough to be introduced to the great surfing beaches of Woolcombe, Putsborough, Croyde, Saunton sands and Westward Ho! during my teens. I bought my first surfboard, a Bic pop-out (with Oxbow decals) at the age of 19 from Glenn at Surfed Out and went on to catch my first wave at Putsborough beach on a 1ft day. I went straight and was wobbling all over the place but the fact I was stood up was enough for me to just want more and more waves.
There is something for everyone in this region of Devon’s beaches. If you’re just starting out or favour a chilled longboarding experience, then head to Saunton sands. It’s a mellow slow breaking wave which offers long peeling walls in the right conditions. It can get crowded so give way to the locals and beware of the rip on the right near the rocks of you’re inexperienced. Just around the headland you have the regional classic, Croyde. A break for experienced surfers only and on its day, it offers overhead hollow sections which are hard to top anywhere in the UK.
Explore the Wilds of Dartmoor
One of my favourite ways to experience Devon is Dartmoor National Park. On the north side of the moor is a large reservoir called Meldon dam which is approximately 30 minutes from Exeter. You can access it from the eastbound carriageway on the A30, the next turning after Okehampton services. However, of you are coming from Exeter you will need to drive past it on the westbound side and turn off at Sourton Downs to cross the other side, a common mistake a lot of people make when visiting for the first time.
Take some coins for parking, there are toilet facilities too. There are many routes to take but the most popular is to Yes Tor. The incline here is gradual and not too taxing but will give your legs a burn. As you reach the top of the first section the track will bear round to the right and you will see the Yes Tor in the distance. Once you have reached Yes tor there will be a flagpole and a metal shelter on the top. Please be aware that this area is used as a live firing range for the military so you should check the times online before you go. The views from here are breathtaking and you can see the national park for miles.
SUPing Down South
If the rough seas of the North Coast don’t take your fancy, then try the south coast of Devon. There are many popular spots along the south Devon coastline stretching from Salcombe in the West, to Lyme Regis on the East side. During the summer months you can enjoy plenty of water sports from paddleboarding, open sea swimming or kite surfing. There is good access along all the main beaches, but a personal favourite of mine is Babbacombe bay located between Torquay and Teignmouth. At high tide you can jump in the sea from the steps along the pier. Tap water clear and full of activity, it’s a regular fishing spot of mine for Mackerel and Pollack and when it’s too hot jump straight in for a dip.
If you do decide to get wet then look out for the resident seal, known to the locals as ‘Sammie’. He is very inquisitive but do not touch! He will keep his distance from you unless you happen to have some fresh fish to hand, in which case throw him a few to eat as a mark of respect, but Leave No Trace.
Our Exeter Store is located at 57 High Street and, at time of writing, we’re open for business as usual. (Make sure to check your local store page in case this changes!) We’re looking forward to seeing our community, so pop in and say 'hi!' – whether you want more ideas for local Microadventures or fancy taking a look through our latest products. We can’t wait to see you.
Words by Duncan Acott