Out of all the places in the world to embrace the winter weather in all of its wild glory, the south-western reaches of England make for a pretty spectacular place to settle down and enjoy the show.
With no less than three seas cradling Cornwall – the English Channel, Atlantic Ocean and Celtic Sea all converging around the county – there’s a plethora of places to expel the cobwebs and admire Mother Nature in all her glory.
If you do take advantage of Cornwall’s wonderland of wintry scenes, the reward of returning to your cottage and warming your cockles in front of the fire or hunkering down in one of the county’s cosy pubs for a tipple or two is surely what the season is all about. You can even combine epic storms with your cosy home from home by choosing a stunning stay with sea views – it’s the ultimate way to storm watch while keeping nice and toasty.
So, don your fur-lined boots and cosiest waterproofs and head out to some of these top storm-watching venues and let high seas and moody skies entertain you…
Storm-watching safety tips
Before heading out into the salty throws of a Cornish storm, there are some important considerations to help you prepare for and enjoy your adventure safely.
• Dress for the weather; waterproofs and warm underlayers are your best friend when watching the storms blow in.
• Always exercise caution and watch storms from a safe position and distance that’s nowhere near an exposed edge.
• Check for weather warnings or police and coastguard alerts before heading out and watch one of our webcams if the area is risky.
• It’s recommended that you check the social media of any eateries before heading out as hazardous weather can result in unexpected closures.
Thrilling displays of the ocean’s exhilarating antics can be found in Porthleven, where even the sheltered harbour can fall prey to the power of the waves – you’ll probably recognise the iconic clock tower that’s been battered and drenched time and time again when the storms roll in.
With a cluster of award-winning places to eat offering protection along with uninterrupted views of the stormy spectacle, Porthleven is renowned for its storm watching popularity. The Ship Inn, where our tempest-tracking webcam sits, provides the ultimate spot to hunker down and watch the waves roll by. Roaring fires at both ends of the bar ensure you stay nice and toasty while the many local ales on tap ensure your whistle is well and truly wetted alongside the harbour outside.
Once the seas and skies have calmed, the coast paths surrounding Porthleven provide a refreshing stroll or two, perfect for enjoying the wind churned seas from a distance.
Whether you wind your way round the coastal path where locations such as Kynance Cove turn into a spectacle of beauty and might or hole up on Lizard Point in the perfectly positioned Polpeor Café, the country’s most southerly site is prime storm watching territory. The peninsula is famously unsheltered, which means storms hit hard and provide a seriously dramatic backdrop. Lizard Lighthouse has stood guard on the rocky cliffs for over 250 years and makes for a fascinating visit when the weather quietens.
Mullion Cove is another gale gazing hotspot, which you can observe from the inviting calm of either Poldhu Beach Café – where mega hot chocolates await – or Mullion Cove Hotel, which boasts unbeatable sea views and a menu to match.
Cornwall’s surfing epicentre, Newquay – or more specifically, Fistral beach, is a brilliant place to marvel at the waves. Whether you opt for shelter at The Headland Hotel on the northern end or watch the rollers from the south at Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa, or even perched above the sand itself at Sea Spray, you’ll be privy to some exhilarating views.
You might even be spoiled with the infamous and almost-myth-like surf phenomenon that is The Cribbar: a reef break off Towan headland that can generate huge waves (over 30ft high on occasions) when conditions are favourable.
Continuing Newquay’s storm watching fame, Watergate Bay is another of the town’s beaches to benefit from the Atlantic Ocean’s mighty roar. Nestle yourself down in The Beach Hut for a monster hot chocolate as you watch the giant waves batter and beat against the shore. There are some beautiful north coast walks surrounding Newquay, which are best enjoyed when the storms relax their grip on the coast – until then, Newquay’s many pubs and beach cafés are a great safe harbour to weather the storm.
Towering granite cliffs, sea stacks that reach up from the roiling waters, Bedruthan Steps is made for stormy weather! This rugged stretch of coast lies just north of Newquay and is always worth a trip for those wanting an epic view amidst wild winds. With huge windows that overlook the wind-churned waters and a menu full of warming delights, The Wild Café is a storm-chaser’s paradise.
The mightiest seas are often found at the very tip of the western coast, where craggy cliffs fall into swirling seas as far as the eye can see. Settle into The Land’s End Restaurant and sup on something warm as you watch waves crash into the distant lighthouse and rocks below. Sennen Cove is another hive of wild seas in the winter months and boasts an equally spectacular spot from which to soak up the tempest outside.
Further along the coast toward St Ives, Cape Cornwall is a top choice, as is the area in and around Zennor. Take refuge in The Gurnard’s Head after a blustery walk along the coast or travel further east to combine some world-class art with stirring sea views from one of the many beautiful beaches in St Ives.
On the other side of Land’s End, Penzance Promenade promises plenty of stormy weather vantage points, many with the dramatic figure of St Michael’s Mount in the distance. The prom might look like a tempting spot for a stormy stroll, but the salty deluge has been known to douse the walkway so the wayward waves are definitely better enjoyed from afar.
The northernmost point in Cornwall, Bude certainly benefits from the same Atlantic swells that turn the whole of the north coast into a cataclysm of elements. While most of the beaches in Bude put up a good fight against the crashing waves, Crackington Haven takes the crown. While the beach should be left well and truly alone during stormy weather, the bluff that overlooks the bay makes for a great watchpoint. The waves waste no time in trying to climb the impressively tall cliffs so it’s always worth bringing your camera when chasing down a storm.
A short distance down the dramatic coastline, the historic harbour village of Boscastle can often be found battling the winds and waves during the winter months. The harbour does an impressive job of keeping the waves at bay, but the storms can be seen unleashing their force on the surrounding cliffs from higher up in the village. There are plenty of spots along this stretch of coast that might tempt eager storm chasers out but the South West Coast Path is often very exposed, so it’s much safer to stick to the more sheltered spots when looking for your stormy vantage point.
Excited to see Cornwall in a different light? Explore our cosy cottages and get ready to watch the stormy season unfurl in total comfort.