SUP, or Stand Up Paddleboarding as it’s also known, combines socially distanced outdoor enjoyment, with a superb workout – all that balancing and paddling is excellent for the core – making it the ideal activity in the age of coronavirus.
Sales of inflatable boards have spiked, with leading manufacturer Red reporting its highest sales in 11 years of trading. But where to begin?
We’ve found some of the best places to stay with excellent paddleboarding right on your doorstep. All except one offer tuition and the water is often warmest at the end of summer (not that you’re going to fall in, of course).
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River Wye, Herefordshire
For somewhere to improve your self-taught lockdown SUP skills, it’s hard to beat the River Wye, a mix of lazy, willow-edged languidness, sheltered eddies and rapids.
Step out of your river-view room at Ye Old Ferrie Inn, all 15th century beams and loveliness in Symonds Yat, and your paddleboard awaits. SUP YOFI has four certified instructors – three of whom are women – who can teach you anything from on-board yoga, to how to cope with white water.
From £95 per night for a double, B&B.
Two hours SUP tuition from £35
Coniston Water, Cumbria
Paddle back in time to the innocence of Swallows and Amazons on the remote, but sheltered, northeast shore of the nine-kilometre-long Coniston Water, Arthur Ransome’s inspiration.
Bank Ground Farm offers a gorgeous B&B and self-catering cottages on a working farm where the original Swallows and Amazons film was shot. It has a kilometre of lake frontage and a jolly nice cafe serving their own produce. SUP tuition and tours are available from Lake District Paddleboarding and you can hire boards by the day or week.
Paddleboarding from £45 for three hours
Hickling Broad, Norfolk
The largest of the Norfolk Broads, Hickling, edged with expansive reed beds and dotted with thatched cottages and boathouses, is not only quaintly picturesque, it’s also a hotspot for wildlife including swallowtail butterflies and Norfolk hawker dragonflies.
Norfolk Outdoor Adventures provide professional SUP teachers who even instruct instructors. They offer tailor-made tuition including a beginner’s lesson in how to paddleboard with your dog. Stay nearby at Watersedge, a newly re-thatched cottage sleeping nine with a boathouse and rowing boat.
Three nights self-catering for nine in October from £600
Two-hour paddleboarding session, £45
Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Paddling on a small loch coloured green with the reflection of conifers and reeds, under towering 900m peaks, will be your introductory taster to SUP when staying at Signal Rock Cottages in Glencoe, owned by certified paddleboarding instructors Rob and Keren.
At 250 metres in length, Torren Lochan is just a minute’s walk away from your cottage. Here, you can practise your balance and turns before embarking on a half or full-day’s guided tour of 14-kilometre-long Loch Leven, five minutes drive away.
Self-catering accommodation from £135 per night
Daily use of Red boards from £15 per person
Loch Tay, Perthshire
The whole family will have fun paddling a giant five-person paddleboard on Loch Tay, against a backdrop of forested hills. Afterwards, warm up in a wood-fired sauna and hydrotherapy pool in the Hot Box spa (temporarily closed due to Covid-19) at Taymouth Marina, where you can slip down a seven-metre long slide into the chilly loch waters to cool down. Retire for the night to a swish loch-view apartment.
Self-catering from £418 for two nights in September
Paddleboarding from £60/hour for the giant board or £25/hour for a standard board. Wetsuits included. No tuition available.
Learn about Georgian history in Bath where you can stay on a narrowboat ten minutes walk from the abbey. Next door, activity company Wild Swim Bike Run leads two-hour guided SUP excursions. Learn about the cargo that travelled by water as you admire views over the Cotswold city before paddling through a 53-metre dark tunnel under the splendid 19th-century former headquarters of the Kennet & Avon Canal. Longer circular paddling routes take in the River Avon and a seven-mile lock-free stretch of canal between Bath and Bradford on Avon.
Two hour guided city SUP £35
If you’re not lucky enough to see a plankton light-show, you might see a starry sky. At the very least, you’ll definitely enjoy hot chocolate and the eerie calm of a night paddle. Bring your own tent and sleeping bag and a guide can take you on an overnight wild-camping trip. If sea conditions are not suitable, night-time trips take place in Snowdonia, a Dark Skies reserve. Experience required.
Seeing the sea glow blue-green with phosphorescence is arguably more magical than witnessing the Northern Lights. Psyched Paddleboarding offer guided night-time trips with all the necessary gear.
A two-hour guided nighttime SUP costs from £53
An overnight wild camping expedition costs from £178pp
Lundy Island, Devon
Cold water corals such as pink sea fans thrive in the clear waters of Lundy, where there are kelp forests and nearly 200 resident Atlantic grey seals. The island, which is located 19km off the North Devon coast, has been pioneering marine conservation for over 40 years. A paddleboard experience takes you close to this watery wildlife. Stay in one of 23 Landmark Trust properties and you can arrange a SUP session with multi-award winning lifeguard and surf instructor Nick Thorn (or one of his employees), who’ll travel across to meet you with all the gear.
From £122 for four nights’self catering for one
Paddleboarding from £65 per person
Brighton, East Sussex
For a stylish base where you can give the sport a try, or improve your canal-based beginner’s efforts, head to the waves of Brighton where funky new seafront hotel, Selina, a nascent brand with origins on a Panamanian surf beach, has just opened with 31 rooms conceived by interior designer Tola Ojuolape.
After a 90-minute paddleboard session with local company Flow + Paddle, head back to the hotel for a cocktail and vegan sourdough pizza. Your Instagram followers will love you.
A 90-minute paddleboard session costs £60
St Agnes, Cornwall
With paddling and litter-picking, wildlife watching, citizen science and sea-view camping five minutes walk from a beach, you couldn’t ask for a more low-impact, eco-friendly holiday that makes a positive difference. SUP in a Bag is accredited as a “wildlife safe operator” and Amanda Leonard, the founder, is a marine life rescue medic.
This part of north Cornwall – Poldark country – is blessed with remote sandy bays, tall cliffs, clear seas and the historic remains of tin mining. It’s all rather wild and romantic, and you’ll be blessed with sights of seals and, possibly, dolphins.
Four nights camping and three days paddleboarding from £440. Suitable for ‘confident novices’.
More SUP info available on British Canoeing website, gopaddling.info