80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, so if you’re starting to falter on your health and fitness targets (shall we not mention “dry January”?!) and are at risk of becoming one of those statistics, then we’re here to help.

Cornish Rock Tors’ lead guide Jon trains relentlessly throughout the year, so is the perfect person to advise on how to make the most out of the colder and darker months of winter when motivation may dip.

“For me its all about training outdoors as much as possible, and that fits with the Cornish Rock Tors ethos, so my advice and tips are all based around choosing the right activity for the conditions. For running and cycling, I have just suggested macro ways to train outdoors without having to resort to the turbo trainer or treadmill.”  

Whether your aim is to exercise more and improve your level of fitness, or complete a challenge in 2019 such as competing in a triathlon or an open water swimming event, Jon’s advice and training programme suggestions will help you to get over the hump and make your resolution a reality.  Over to Jon:

competitors swimming in the sea in Port Isaac during The Big Swim open water swimming event

Work on Weaknesses

Winter is a great time of year to identify weaknesses and try to work on them, particularly if you are training for a summer event or series.

Swimming (Pool)

If training for an open water tri/swim event but you’re not experienced at navigating & sighting, then use this time of year in the pool to work on bilateral breathing and different breathing patterns, as well as sighting. Being comfortable breathing to both sides can help you in an event; it will help with your sighting and it will give you a real advantage in rough conditions, allowing you to breath away from the incoming chop.

Beginner Tips

Breathing Variation – Introduce breathing every 3 strokes into your normal swim sets and sighting forwards at regular intervals. At first you may need to slow down to get your breathing under control and focus on body position when breathing to weaker side. Once comfortable, start changing-up the breathing pattern on a regular basis.

A Swim Set To Try

You can add the following set in to your training session to improve your breathing, or use it at a low intensity as a warm up.  It’s 7 × 100m with 20 second rests, and you can scale the distance up or down depending on your ability.

This set uses pyramid breathing patterns, breathing every 2nd breath on your strong side for the first 100m, then on your 3rd breath (on your weak side) for the second set, and so on, peaking at breathing every 5th stroke. Then, as you scale the breaths back, switch the “side” that the breaths occur on. The set will look like this:

  • 100m x every 2nd breath (strong side)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 3rd breath (alternate sides)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 4th breath (strong side)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 5th breath (alternate sides)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 4th breath (weak side)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 3rd breath (alternate sides)
  • 20 second rest
  • 100m x every 2nd breath (weak side)

Sighting Tip – Try sighting forwards at regular intervals (try every 3-5 strokes) by lifting your head slightly. Try to sight an object at the end of the pool (a pull buoy on the pool deck, or a diving platform perhaps) to mimic sighting marker buoys in open water.

sea swim training with cornish rock tors

Intermediate/Advanced Tips  

Breathing Variation – Mix up your breathing pattern during lengths, and play around with different variations. In choppy open water the waves and chop can often dictate when you take a breath, so being able to adapt freely will help ward off panic and stop you becoming short of breath.

Sighting Tip – Sighting is important for keeping you on course and minimising the distance that you swim. BUT, if sighting ineffectively you could find yourself putting the breaks on every time you sight – if you lift your head to high your legs will start to sink, acting like an anchor. Practice “crocodile sighting” by raising your head just enough for your eyes to leave the water, sight, then tilt your head to the side to breath as normal. The aim is for sighting to become a fluid part of the stroke.


Alternative Activities


With road conditions being more wintery, try going off-road. Swap your road bike for a mountain bike and hit some trails, or try your hand at racing cyclocross if you want to keep your competitive juices flowing out of season.


Dark before and after work? Put your head torch on and run some trails. Running is a great activity to do all year round, and with regular races throughout the winter as well as ParkRuns every weekend, it’s the perfect time to push your running on to the next level.


Strength & Conditioning

Strength training can reap great rewards. If done correctly it can enhance your triathlon/swim performance as well as make you more injury-proof. Winter is the ideal time to get strong and prepare yourself for the upcoming season. Strength and conditioning training can be done indoors, unaffected by the weather, and you have time to recover without the fear of feeling achy on a race day.

Something to work on: Swimming, running and cycling involve very little lateral (side to side) movement. This can lead to weaknesses in your core – the stabilising muscles and connective tissues responsible for lateral movement and twisting motions. Try incorporating lateral and twisting exercises into your routines, such as sideways lunges with bands and medicine ball Russian twists. These types of exercises will help you maintain form when you inevitably tire towards the end of an event.

We’ll be offering a greater range of sea swimming options this year, including coaching and sessions aimed at competitive open water swimmers looking to improve their technique. If 2019 is the year that you’re going to enter a triathlon or open-water swim event and you’re interested in getting some specific sea-swimming practice in, then do get in touch with us to see what we can do for you.

Winter is an amazing time to visit Cornwall and enjoy its natural beauty. Whilst the sea is certainly colder than it is in the late summer, we get our fair share of bright, clear weather or calm sea conditions that mean it’s still possible to get out on the water. There are also those days when the last place you want to be is in the sea; sticking out into the North Atlantic as it does, when storms hit Cornwall they can hit hard with nature putting on an unrivalled show of force.

a storm wave breaking on lobber point in port isaac cornwall

When winter storms arrive on our coast we are most definitely closed and you’ll find us instead enjoying the show that nature puts on from the warmth and safety of a coastal café. We are well aware of the power of the sea, and advise that on such wild days you too take extreme care and show the ocean the utmost respect: find a comfy window seat with a good view, order a hot drink, and storm watch from there. Here are a few of our favourite spots:

Port Gaverne

The Port Gaverne Hotel, just about next door to our base, is a lovely cosy spot when the weather’s wild outside.  It has limited views of the cove, but if you take the corner seat in the bar you will be able to watch what’s happening out to sea. The cove faces northwest, so tends to be a little more sheltered – if it’s big and stormy here then it’ll be even more spectacular on the west facing coasts!

 port gaverne cornwall in a storm


There are several cafes and restaurants with good views of the beach and Pentire Point for when a storm hits, so order a coffee and cake and enjoy the show. Locals tend to congregate here to watch during winter storms, so if there’s a crowd around and the staff at TJs surf shop have put out sand bags and rolled up their shutters then you know you’re in the right place at the right time. Beware of surges at high tide that can wash across the road and certainly don’t use the beach car park!

storm waves hitting pentire head at polzeath in cornwall

Mawgan Porth

On the other side of the estuary, past Padstow on the coast road towards Newquay, the Bedruthan Steps Hotel above Mawgan Porth is a lovely and family friendly hotel with large windows looking out over the sea from their public areas. They do great coffee, and the views are spectacular when the weather is wild – it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday roast when the wind is howling outside.

 St Agnes

Like Port Gaverne, Trevaunance cove at St Agnes (an hour down the road from us) faces northwest and provides a great view up the coast. When the weather gets really bad the bar and restaurant that sits above the back of the beach, Schooners, is closed and boarded up to protect the windows, but if they are open then it’s a great spot to order some food and drink and enjoy their view.


Portreath’s harbour wall, with the famous “Monkey Hut” stood at the end, is almost as synonymous with Cornish storm watching as the clock tower on the Bickford-Smith Institute in Porthleven. The Monkey Hut was used for shelter by the pilots who would signal and guide ships into the dangerous harbour entrance. In the storms of January 2014 this small stone building was destroyed along with sections of the harbour wall, but has since been rebuilt. You can park on the hill leading south out of Portreath and enjoy the view from this elevated position as waves smash into the end of the harbour wall.

storm wave hitting the harbour wall and monkey hut at portreath

If it is stormy during your winter break to Cornwall then please keep yourself safe and watch from a distance. If it’s calm and your visit coincides with some of the beautiful winter sun that we often enjoy then give us a call, and we’ll show you a different side to the Cornish coast.



We have vacancies for the roles of kayak guide and coasteering guide for Cornish Rock Tors’ 2019 season. Whether you’re an experienced outdoor activity leader or recently qualified and just starting out, if you’re interested in joining a great team and calling the beautiful scenery of Port Isaac Bay your office, then get in touch with an up-top-date C.V. and a cover letter.

Here are the jobs that we are currently looking to fill:

cornish rock tors sea kayak guide about to lead a group on a paddle around port isaac bay

Kayak Guide

March – October 2019.

We offer a basic weekly salary with the option for overtime (recommended). We require a guide to lead sit-on-top kayak sessions from our base at Port Gaverne around Port Isaac Bay, North Cornwall.

From school groups and adventure scouts to private groups and individuals, you will be responsible for organising and guiding half-day and full day trips along a stunning section of National Trust coastline.

There will be opportunities for further training, experience and qualifications in other activities such as Coasteering.

Applicants should hold BCU (UKCC) Level 1 Coach and 4* Sea or equivalent and have significant experience of leading coastal sea kayaking trips.

a group of people coasteering with guides from cornish rock tors

Coasteering Guide

March – October 2019.

We offer a basic weekly salary with the option for overtime (recommended). We require a guide to lead coasteering sessions from our base at Port Gaverne, North Cornwall.

You need to be a strong and confident swimmer, with experience of marine activities. Applicants must have excellent communication skills and be able to lend confidence and authority to groups in a dynamic and often challenging marine environment. Any experience of leading groups in the outdoor environment, as well as lifeguard skills (RLSS or NARS) and first aid qualifications, will aid your application.

We will provide full coasteer guide training and equipment. There will also be potential for further experience/training in other activities.
cornish rock tors coasteering guide swimming in the seaFor all positions, alongside an attractive salary and training opportunities you will be part of a friendly team of adventurous outdoor enthusiasts working in a small community with fantastic outdoor activity venues on your doorstep.


wellington boots and a bucket of beach litter at surfers against sewage big autumn beach clean Polzeath

As the first big storms of autumn and winter arrive on our coasts, so to does the sadly inevitable tide of marine litter that they carry with them. Every autumn and spring marine environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage mobilise an army of volunteers in a series of beach clean events around the country – at time of posting, 465 beach and river clean events had been registered! SAS’s team of hardworking regional reps leads the events and volunteers, and we are incredibly proud that our area’s rep is Cornish Rock Tors’ own Hugo Brown. Hugo’s organised this year’s Big Autumn Beach Clean for Polzeath on Friday October 26th, starting at 1.30pm at The Tubestation.

“People know that we are drowning in single-use plastic waste and the place we see it most obviously is on our beaches and river banks.  Autumn is when the storms arrive and the flow of plastic increases. We are calling on members of the public to join the efforts and make this the biggest beach and river clean we have ever seen.”

Director of Campaigns and Projects, Ben Hewitt

surfers against sewage 2018 big auumn beach clean series poster

If you live in or are visiting the area and can spare some time on Friday afternoon, even if only for fifteen minutes or so, then another pair of hands helping to keep one of our beaches beautiful would be very much appreciated. Hugo will provide all volunteers with gloves and all necessary equipment, so you just need to wear suitable clothing and footwear – and dogs are welcome too!

You can find out more and register your interest at the event’s Facebook page by clicking here.

children and teenagers from cornwall wildlife trust wildlife watch extreme rockpooling and coasteering with cornish rock tors

On the afternoon of Saturday October 27th (the last Saturday of the October half term holidays) we’re excited to once again team up with Cornwall Wildlife Trust to run a special junior extreme rockpooling session for their Wildlife Watch club.  Sponsored by John Bray Cornish Holidays and being offered at a specially discounted rate of just £10, this two hour session will lead youngsters on an adventure along the rocky shoreline learning all about the wildlife that lives there, interspersed with some exciting jumps and coasteering activities.

Wildlife Watch, the junior section of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, inspires future generations to care for Cornwall’s precious wildlife and wild places through the Wildlife Watch magazine and by providing fun educational activities.  It is Cornwall’s leading wildlife club.

Booking is essential and is for children over the age of 8 years old.

Contact Wildlife Watch on 01872 273939 or wildlifewatch@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk to book.

cornsih rock tors team member jon waters competing in the polkerris swim festival

Last weekend saw the final event in the INTOTRI Cornish triathlon series take place at Falmouth. Our Jon has been racing in the series, and a 3rd place finish in Falmouth meant that he took 3rd place overall in the series in his first season. What a result!

cornish rock tors team member jon waters on the podium having finished in third place overall in the intotri triathlon series 2018

Jon has always been an exceptionally fit and active individual, having run many local trail races (including coastal ultra marathons), ridden the Land’s End 100 Sportive cycle race, and he regularly enters various local events – including other cycling sportives, road races and time trials. This is the first time that he’s entered a full series of mixed-format triathlon races, however. He committed and trained hard, focusing on the pacing required to complete races successfully and those tricky tri-transitions which can so often cost competitors valuable time.

cornish rock tors team member jon waters competing in the bike leg of the bude triathlon

The season started back in April with the Newquay sprint race (titled “TRI The Goat”), in which Jon placed 5th overall. He was only 11 seconds off the third place finisher however, and having lost some time in a transition it highlighted how crucial those changeovers can be. Then in May he placed 4th in the Bodmin (Tri The Dragon) event, before getting a podium finish coming in 3rd at the Bude Triathlon – an incredibly popular and well-attended event with a very competitive field. A fortnight later, the Penzance event was a “Hexatri” that started with a bike time trial, before a “classic” race comprising a swim, run, a second swim, bike, and another run. Phew! With a 3rd place overall in this event, Jon was definitely making his mark in his debut season!

cornish rock tors team member jon waters competing in the run leg of the penzance triathlon in 2018

cornish rock tors team member jon waters came third in the 2018 penzance triathlon

With the incredibly weather that we had through the start of the summer, Jon was managing to get plenty of training in, in and around work, running cross-country from his home to Port Gaverne and often guiding the early-morning wild swimming sessions that proved so popular this year.

cornish rock tors team member jon waters' tirathlon bike outside the port gaverne office

Through the peak summer he didn’t lay off the gas. Our local event in Wadebridge took place on July 22nd, and Jon put in his best performance of the year, again placing 3rd.  Following that he then entered two events at Polkerris on the south coast that weren’t part of the series – an Aquathlon (swim and run) in mid-July in which he came 4th, and then swimming the 2km race in the Polkerris Swim Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend (placing 2nd in age group and 9th overall).

cornish rock tors team member jon waters competing in the swim leg of the penzance triathlon in 2018

Finally last Sunday, at the Falmouth Triathlon, Jon swam well in choppy conditions (all of that time spent guiding wild swims helping out, no doubt!) before challenging bike and run legs around Pendennis Point, and crossed the line in third place in the open category. This was enough to give him the third place spot in the entire series – an outstanding achievement for his first year. We can’t wait to see how he fares next year!

cornish rock tors team member jon waters competing in the run leg of the polkerris aquathon in 2018

This autumn Jon is doing his Open Water Swim Coach qualification, so that next summer we can offer coaching as well as guiding on our open water and wild swims.  Jon attributes a great deal of his success in the swimming legs of these events to the amount of open water swimming and training that he does – he came out of the water 2nd in both sea swim triathlons this year purely because he is much better in open water compared to the pool and can handle chop.  If you want to improve your sea or open water swimming technique and overall performance, particularly if you are planning on entering a race or tri event next year, then please get in touch to find out how Jon can help you with a dedicated open water coaching session.

open water swimming from port gaverne to port isaac in cornwall

We are really lucky here in Cornwall to have the INTOTRI events. INTOTRI is a charity that aims to remove the social and financial barriers to participation in sport, and change the triathlon landscape. Open to all and affordable to everyone, they have pioneered initiatives such as the world’s first free triathlon series and triathlons at primary school games with the aim being to increase participation at every level. Whether you want to dip your toe in a single short (“sprint”) triathlon or tackle a full distance event or a series, their events are well worth checking out.

Find out more at: www.intotri.com



Penzance event photos copyright INTOTRI and the event photographer.  All other images courtesy of Katy Austin-Waters.



At the end of the school summer holidays every year we have our annual staff outing – our version of a Christmas party for a business that isn’t fully staffed at Christmas.  In the past we’ve done things like heading to Plymouth for a coaching session off the Olympic height diving board there, as well as two previous attempts at floating down the River Camel to Rock on inflatables, in fancy dress as our favourite sea creatures.  This year, on the last Saturday of the holidays before some of our seasonal staff have to head off back to university, we undertook another epic river run – and this year, we made it all the way to Rock!  In years past unfavourable winds and tides, punctures, and the problems that come with trying to paddle whist dressed as a crab, jellyfish or sea cucumber have combined to cause us to call the river run a day upon reaching Wadebridge, whereupon we have retired to a pub as a damp assembly of marine life.  This year the wind was at our back and Liam had the bright idea of us all taking golf umbrellas to use as sails, which worked incredibly well.  We all purchased the same model of inflatable dinghy (no fancy pack rafts here!) so that nobody would be left behind on an unsuitable craft, and duct tapped the bottoms for reinforcement.  Fancy dress was, reluctantly, cancelled so that we’d have the best chance of going the full distance.

cornish rock tors end of season river run paddling down the river camel

We put in at Groggly Halt, at Polbrock on the Camel Trail (between Wadebridge and Bodmin), where the river becomes sensibly navigable for small inflatable dinghys.  Any further up river and we’d have risked punctures from shallow sections, or had sections that we’d have to get out and walk around.  We paddled to Wadebridge, whereupon we met the dropping tide and “hoisted sail” to help carry us down stream towards Rock.  Three and a half hours later, having covered a distance of almost 12km, we all successfully beached at Rock, on the beach next to the sailing school.

cornish rock tors end of season river run map

cornish rock tors end of season river run sailing down the river camel using an umbrella


cornish rock tors end of season river run down the river camel reaching the finish line in rock

L-R: Hugo, Ollie, Hannah, Liam, Ben, Jon, Pete and Toby celebrating a successful river run!

To any of you who were disappointed at not being able to join us for any sessions or rent kit on that afternoon, please accept our apologies.  The team have worked so hard this summer and it’s important to us that before some trickle off in September we all get together as a full team and celebrate another great season.  The team that plays together stays together, and Cornish Rock Tors wouldn’t be what it is without these wonderful individuals and their hard work and dedication.

Note: Inflatable dinghies are not suitable craft for open water; we undertook this thoroughly planned expedition with safety precautions in place and back-up plans should we have encountered any difficulties along the way.  Please don’t attempt to replicate this trip.

stand up paddleboarding SUP lesson in cornwall with cornish rock tors

This summer our guided stand-up paddleboarding trips and SUP hire have proven incredibly popular – no surprise really with the incredible weather and conditions that we’ve had in Cornwall. Our guided sessions include instruction from our qualified staff, and every rental also includes a quick introduction to stand-up paddling as part of the safety brief, but for those who have been out with us and are now considering buying an SUP and setting out on your own, here are our five top tips for safe, efficient and enjoyable paddling:

stand up paddleboarding instructor ben spicer teachng a group in cornwall at cornish rock tors


All of our paddles, and most entry-level paddles that come as part of a package, are adjustable. For regular paddling (on flat water, rather than for trying to surf) your paddle should be 6-8 inches longer than you are tall. This will allow you to generate the most power from your stroke, with minimal effort.

stand up paddleboarding in north cornwall with cornish rock tors


The blade on stand-up paddles are angled (called the “kickback angle”), and many beginners mistakenly hold the paddle so that the blade is angled back towards them under eh assumption that the paddle will “scoop” the water. The blade should actually be angled AWAY from the paddler (pointing towards the front/nose of the board) as this results in a smoother stroke and much more power being generated through the entirety of the stroke, particularly the middle section as the blade will be vertical as you pull it past you. Smoother, more powerful, and less stress on your shoulders can only be a good thing!

a group on a guided stand up paddleboarding lesson in cornwall


This applies to both the start of your session, until you are familiar, comfortable and balanced on the board, and the start of every session when you mount your board in shallow water. When you first enter the water, kneel up on your paddleboard until you have paddled out into slightly deeper water; if you go straight to standing and fall off in shallow water you are far more likely to hurt yourself. You can paddle effectively (holding the shaft of your paddle part way up) from your knees until you are confident enough to try standing up, and return to your knees should you need to – perhaps if conditions change and the sea becomes a bit bumpier.

ben spicer, director of cornish rock tors ltd, leading a stand up paddleboarding tour in cornwall


At the end of each paddle stroke, there is no rush or need to dig straight into the next stroke; allow the power generated by the stroke to propel you forward, and enjoy the glide! Taking a short pause between each paddle stroke will mean you travel further, for fewer strokes.

stand up paddleboarding at port gaverne in north cornwall with cornish rock tors


With your feet parallel, shoulder width apart, and facing forwards in the centre of the board (roughly either side of the carry handle), it will be the muscles in your feet and legs that help you to keep your balance. Keep you feet, hips and head in a straight line, one above the other, and soften your knees. If you bend at the waist then your head and upper body (the heavy parts of you!) will be off centre and you are more likely to wobble and fall in. Soft knees, loose hips and a feeling for your feet will help you to maintain your balance as you move through your paddle stroke.

Have fun out there!