Where Can I SUP in the UK?
So you’ve got your board and all the kit, but now you’re left wondering: “Where should I go on my paddle board?”. We’ve broken down four of the locations you can take your paddle board in the UK. Depending on what kind of SUP adventure you fancy having, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you take to the water.
One thing to do before going Paddle Boarding, no matter where you choose to take your adventure, is to check the weather before heading out. Deteriorating weather conditions like offshore winds or choppy waters can ruin the fun of any journey on the water. For more information on water safety, check out the information put out by Lifeboats on SUP.
You may need a license for some of the waterways you want to explore, so you should map out a route before heading out so you don’t pick up a fine on your adventures! Different waterways are maintained by different bodies, so you may need to check out who manages what patch of water. We mention some of the managing bodies, like the Canal and River Trust or British Canoeing
There are over 3,000 miles of canal you can explore throughout the UK. These water highways are usually flatwater, making them great environments to learn on and are accessible for the majority of paddle boarders. You can get a short-term license from the Canal and River Trust if you’re planning on going out on canals; the 30 days can be spread throughout a year. If you’re looking to learn how to SUP with a class, they might cover the cost of your short-term license, so you should check beforehand.
The water on rivers can vary depending on location and weather. Check out the grading of a river’s Paddling Trail prior to going out on the water, as the flow can shift dramatically. Rivers can offer wither a relaxed scenic paddle, or a dynamic and fast moving adventure. If you’re starting out, we recommend starting with the lowest grades, or in a guided tour, in order to build up your technical skills. Rivers have a continuous current, which means they are more likely to make you fall off your board. You should ensure you have prepared your safety accessories beforehand: a Life Vest and Ankle Leash are non-negotiable. You should also dress appropriately for any slips in the water!
Rivers can be the perfect SUP location for a variety of SUP styles, but make sure you get a license before heading out on the water. Waterway Licenses are available for purchase with British Canoeing, which gives you access to 4,500 km of waterways in Britain. Check out rules of local waterways to you before heading out on the water, as you may need different licences.
Paddling on lakes is quite similar to SUPping on the ocean but is a little smoother and predictable. This makes it a fantastic place for those starting SUP to visit. Despite the smoother water, the winds can be more powerful on lakes, which is something to keep in mind. As it’s flatwater paddling, you won’t need a specialist board. For a list of UK Lakes, check out Go Paddling’s list of locations you can explore. Lakes are often the most tranquil water to SUP on, so they are a great location to try out SUP Yoga, where you need calmer waters for the best practise.
If you’re planning on paddling in the ocean, you should be prepared for stronger currents than you would find on inland waterways. The currents and tides are more changeable, meaning you are a bit more likely to get thrown off course if you aren’t as practised. If you’re a beginner, then having a few training sessions beforehand is the best option, and then sticking to the edge of the surf is the best way of getting used to ocean SUPping. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution have some really useful tips on SUP on the ocean. One of the most important things is to wear a suitable personal flotation device, and preferably SUP in the ocean.