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General details:

A South West Water reservoir.

I [MF] have sailed there once when on hol. in Falmouth - took the better half as it seemed a safe place for her to have a go. I remember having a really good time, 'though before long, the fog closed in & we couldn't see much. I suspect the folks in charge back on land were blowing their horn to stop play, but as they couldn't see us anyway...!

I remember the top half of the lake being slightly unnerving insofar as there seemed to be endless large tree trunks on the lake bed - some quite close to the surface.

[update - jul 2011] Stithians Reservoir is approximately 350 acres of water. The Southern end is reserved for anglers and birds of the feathered sort, but apparently there are moves afoot to open this to dinghy sailors and windsurfers on “special occasions”.  However, the remaining water is still plenty big enough for blasting.  Top speed achieved on the lake so far is 36 knots, so it cannot be that bad!

The lake is situated on high ground (my GPS says 760 ft above sea level) about half way between the North and South coast of Cornwall and very roughly at the midpoint between Truro, Falmouth and Redruth .

There is often wind at the lake when there is no wind elsewhere – but conversely, there can be no wind at the lake and wind on the sea. It all depends on the direction of the wind. (See How the Winds Work section for this).

There is a full RYA centre at the lake, (see Facilities for more info), but in a nutshell, you can hire Windsurfers, dinghies (Pico, Topper and faster things), kayaks, paddle boards (to come apparently), and also learn how to sail / use all of these.  Fishing is also available on day permit (wild browns and stocked rainbows) and there is a rowing club too, although I do not think they hire these out.

Reading a previous comment on this site about trees in the water, forget it.  That was several years ago, when SW Water let out too much of the liquid stuff – or Falmouth, which it supplies, drank too much!  Stithians is a pumped reservoir – ie the water is abstracted from a river further down the hill – and although some water comes from local streams and rainfall etc. this is where the supply comes from.  Best times for full water (brimming to the top) are November to April / May – from then on it gradually falls. (See Hazards for more information).

A final note.  Kitesurfing is not allowed, nor is any means of powered boat – an electric fishing boat perhaps, but certainly no water skiing or wakeboarding.

In addition to the centre there is also an enclosed children's play area overlooking the lake and a trail around part of the lake (ok for mountain bikes too).  With over five and a half miles of bank it is enough for a decent walk!

If you happen to have a no wind day, there are loads of mountain bike trails in this area, and conveniently, behind the Old Quay Inn, lies Revolve Bicycle Works, which rents out half decent (Specialised Hardrock Sport) bikes.  From here, you can do the Coast to Coast trail (Portreath to Devoran tramway - North to South), which is a doddle for even a non biker.  It is 98% off road.  And if you are a more adventurous rider, there are loads of bridleways, downhill tracks etc in the area, all of which branch off from the Coast to Coast trail.  Just ask Gary in the bike shop – he may even take you out in the evening – and will also repair your bike if it breaks!

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Directions to the right place:

Click here for map.

Essentially, head for Stithians and you will see signs for the lake.  It is 2.2 miles from the village.
Telephone: 01209 860301
SW Lakes Trust Website
Post code for SatNav:- TR16 6NW

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How the winds work:

The best wind at the lake is SW.  You get a long reach straight out from the clubhouse and a mixture, depending on how good you are going upwind, of flat water and, at the lower end of the lake, serious chop if windy.  This is the best direction for speed sailing – currently at 36 knots!!

Westerly and Easterly give you the whole length of the lake to blast on, but both are usually gustier than a SW.   In both these wind directions, it is often easier to park in the far camping field than launch from the centre – once you have paid your dues of course! Often in an Easterly, Loe Beach on the Carrick Roads is more fun.

NW can be quite good, but unless you want a relatively short run it is better to blast off downwind to the bottom of the reservoir where you get a much longer run.  The ability to be able to hack upwind at the end of your sail, is of course, essential!

N and S.  Both these are ok, but as they both mean you have to sail across the narrowest part of the lake, runs are shorter, particularly when the water level is lower.  But, good for gybing practice and tricks, and as you will be sailing out from the clubhouse, you can impress your kids, other half, girlfriend on how good you are!

SE is the only other wind that occurs here, and again, you are better off down near the dam for a longer reach.

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Tidal conditions:

Umm ---- well, it is a lake.  But as mentioned earlier, the water level is best in the Winter / Spring / late Autumn.  There is still plenty for sailing though, at all times of the year.

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If you are sailing in a SW wind, there is a point that sticks out about half way down the lake.  It is shallow here and has been the scene of many catapults as sailors try to hack in too close to the shore.  It is mud, so unlikely to damage your fin, but check the depth first.

Occasionally, there are some strange bubble jet things (8 I think) that are supposed to aerate the water and make the fish bigger.  These are only in the dam end of the lake and pose no threat to windsurfers – you can sail straight through them with no ill effect and they also create extra chop in strong winds, giving you a free launch pad!

Other than that, there are boulders near the shore down near the spillway and the dam.  To avoid, don’t gybe down here close to the shoreline – 40 foot out is safest and if you do have to land, just be careful as some of them are large and you can twist an ankle.  

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[info provided jul 2011]

The Centre is relatively new and has a good Café, showers and loos etc for both sexes, also classrooms, internet access and a dedicated staff to help.  The lovely Amanda is the most helpful person I know and will help you solve any problems you might have.

As mentioned earlier, here is where you can hire, learn, rent equipment for windsurfing, dinghies, kayaks etc. Prices can be found on the website, but from memory a day sail is about £7.  You will need to show 3rd party insurance.  The rental equipment is not too bad, depends on whether you are a complete beginner – planks and triangular sails for learning, but there is better equipment available as you progress up the learning tree.  Naish Titans, an F2 tandem, a “plastic” Hypersonic are all available, to name but a few.

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B&B's / campsites

Camping  is available behind the clubhouse on a flat field – there are limited hook-ups,  but it is a big field.

If you prefer to be further away from the clubhouse, there is a large field (also used as a launching area in W, NW and E winds).  This has no facilities, but will be quieter.

There are plenty of other local campsites dotted around this area.

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Pubs and eateries

[info provided jul 2011]

The nearest pub is conveniently located at the entrance to the reservoir, the Golden Lion: Well kept beers like St Austells Tribute and Proper Job, lagers, a big wine list and a huge menu and a log fire if cold.  I do not eat here on the basis I caught the chef buying his veg in Asda, also the enormous menu means a lot of it must be frozen!!

For the best curry and decent pub grub, you are better off going to the Stag Hunt in nearby Ponsanooth.  Here, the Landlord’s Indian wife cooks up the best curries in the South West!  He also has beer festivals on occasion where the beer is £1.50 a pint!  Best to check first though, as they do not do curry every day of the week.

Another really good pub with restaurant style food is the Old Quay Inn in Devoran, about 6 miles away.  Stunning views over the Penpol estuary, well kept beer, amazing food – a genuine gem of a pub! 

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Content supplied by (jul 2011 - many thanks, Geoff) & minimal original input from

Note: All comments and opinions mentioned in this section of the site are the personal opinions of the various contributors. Inevitably, one person's favourite may be another person's least favourite.

The information provided here is provided in good faith. We can take no responsibility for the consequences of any inaccuracies. Should you find any inaccuracies, then please take the trouble to tell us, using any of the update links.

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