Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is one of the fastest-growing water sports, both in the UK and worldwide. And for good reason; it’s affordable, it’s relatively easy to learn, it’s not confined to the sea, and it’s a good workout and a relaxing activity at the same time. Joining the trend, one of our team members recently decided to find out what this SUP-buzz is all about.
On a recent summer morning, our Marketing Manager Paula Gomez ventured out to the Lake District for her first go at stand-up paddle boarding. She met up with instructor Chelsea Clarkson and her dog Bodhi (a keen SUP-er himself) on the edge of Windermere Lake, a large lake surrounded by mountain peaks and forests.
After wading into the water, Paula was instructed to first get comfortable on the board before attempting to stand up. “I placed myself in the centre of the board,” she says, “supporting myself on my knees and hands and once I felt comfortable, I began to paddle — still on my knees.” Once she had paddled into the lake, far enough away from rocks on the shore, Paula got to her feet. “It took me about 20 minutes to relax my legs,” she recalls, “and from that moment I felt my body connecting with the vibration of the water, with the relaxing sound of each paddle, the wind and the birds flying.”
… and from that moment I felt my body connecting with the vibration of the water, with the relaxing sound of each paddle, the wind and the birds flying …
The accessibility of SUP
Unlike SUP’s cousin surfing, which requires a substantial amount of agility and skill, stand-up paddleboarding is relatively easy to learn. “I love the accessibility of it,” says Chelsea, who has been a SUP instructor for several years. “The whole family (and the dog) can get going relatively easily without any long-term training or extensive knowledge required. We have had toddlers and dogs on board, as well as folks over 65, and almost everyone can do it within the first hour.”
… and almost everyone can do it within the first hour …
Stand-up paddle boarding is also accessible in a practical sense. You don’t necessarily need an ocean, or waves of a particular size, to stand-up paddleboard; any body of water is a potential setting. You don’t need hugely deep pockets either; boards are fairly affordable, especially the inflatable variety, or iSUP, that came into the market a few years ago.
SUP, a short history
The easy accessibility of stand-up boarding is undoubtedly key to its fast-growing popularity. Though the act of paddling yourself forward on a floating board is an activity that has been practised in various forms for several centuries, the sport we call ‘stand-up paddle boarding’ is relatively new. It got its start as a sport in Hawaii, where, from the middle of the 20th century, it
became a surfing discipline. In the mid-2000s, stand-up paddle boarding made its way to California and quickly became its own sport, breaking its ties with surfing, and attracting a different (and much broader) market. The trend rapidly spread to other countries, and in the UK, it’s been one of the fastest growing water sports for several years.
The Relaxing Quality of Paddle Boarding
Part of the sport’s appeal is the fact that it’s a low-intensity activity, allowing you to take in your surroundings at a comfortable pace. While it’s definitely a core-strengthening, balance-improving workout, a day out on a paddle board can also function as a gentle mental reset, some time without digital devices and other distractions, and a way to see your natural setting from a different
perspective. “It’s not all about special techniques and paddle strokes,” says Chelsea, “It’s also about enjoying the journey outside and exploring new and exciting places.”
It’s also about enjoying the journey outside and exploring new and exciting places
After paddling around Windermere Lake for a while, and climbing up on the SUP-confidence ladder, Paula ventured onto the Brathay, a nearby river, for a change of scenery. “The experience on the river was a bit more challenging because there was not much time to sit and rest as the current kept on dragging us back, but it was spectacular because you feel so happy to be in a wild place where nature shares with you and you feel part of it.”
And if purely floating around on a paddleboard isn’t exciting enough for you, you might want to try one of the activity’s varieties. Recent trends include SUP yoga, SUP fishing, and SUP touring — the latter referring to multiple-day trips you can take on a stand-up paddleboard, carrying supplies with you on your board. And, as Paula experienced, stand-up paddle boarding can also be excellent bonding time with your dog. As she was getting more SUP-competent, Chelsea’s dog Bodhi, joined her on the board. “I felt super special because Chelsea told me that he never shares a board with someone other than her.”
Booking Your SUP Adventure
- We have a few SUP activities available on Wilderness Now and will be adding more soon. In the meantime check these in the Lake District and near to London.
- You can also check our Chelsea’s Lake District SUP activity directly HERE.
- We also think this SUP experiences in Whitstable, Kent — look fantastic (and are easily accessible from London).