Our Best UK Paddle Boarding Locations
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (or SUPing) is an activity almost anyone of any age or fitness level can enjoy. Whether you just want a little fun with friends pootling around on a local stretch of river, a low impact full-body work out, or the chance to explore longer sections of our beautiful rivers, lakes and coastline, SUPing has something to offer. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, there are loads of great places in the UK where you can get started or show off your already honed SUPing skills. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite river, lake and coastal routes for you to try on your next water-bound adventure.
For more detailed info on some of the routes listed here as well as other great ones, Paddling Britain by adventurer Lizzie Carr is an excellent resource. New to Stand Up Paddle Boarding? Check out our guide for all the kit and knowledge you need to get you started.
Image: Symmonds Yat
Symonds Yat, River Wye, Herefordshire
Great for: Stunning gorges, short or longer multi-day trips, all levels.
Practically anywhere on the river Wye from Hay-On-Wye down to Tintern offers great SUPing opportunities, especially for those wanting to do longer or multiple day trips. The river’s gentle meander and absence of major obstacles like weirs also make it a great place to develop or improve your self-taught skills. If you launch your SUP at Kerne Bridge, the next few miles’ majestic paddling through the stunning forested gorge to the Saracens Head pub at Symonds Yat are some of the most spectacularly beautiful in the UK. Why not make a whole day of it? Those with stamina could start 13 miles upstream in Ross-on Wye instead, or the more experienced paddler might want to test themselves on the grade 2 rapids just down river from the pub. Wherever you dip your paddle, a day on the Wye is hard to top.
River Cam, Cambridge
Great for: Architecture, History, picnics
If you like your SUPing adventures to include a healthy dose of history and inspiring architecture, then this one is surely for you. Set off at Jesus Green (just downstream of Jesus Lock) and this gentle river adventure will see you weaving between the hustle and bustle of Cambridge’s famous punters as you pass alongside the university’s famous colleges including King’s, Trinity and St Catherine’s, before drifting under the marvelous Bridge of Sighs and the beautiful Mathematical Bridge. At Mill Pond, you can join the throng of picknickers or follow the river further upstream to Grantchester – home of the delightful Orchard Tea Garden and its amazing high tea. Urban SUP adventures don’t get more sophisticated than this.
Ullswater, The Lake District
Great for: Big lake experience
Watched over by the mighty Helvellyn, at 9 miles long and 0.75 miles wide Ullswater is the Lake District’s second largest lake. Described as a ‘ribbon lake’, given its long and thin shape, it certainly has that big lake feel about it, making the comparisons it receives to Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne feel apt. Flat and calm, Ullswater is perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing day’s paddle and if you start your trip from Steamer Pier car park, the south westerly winds that often funnel down the lake can ease your passage, reaching 30mph and generating a 3-4ft rolling wave that’s easy to ride. In 3 hours or so you’ll reach Pooley Bridge in the north, providing you haven’t been too distracted by all the small islands and beautiful, secluded bays you could stop and explore along the way.
Image: Cuckmere Haven.
Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex
Great for: Wildlife watching, and sunset paddling
Cuckmere Haven (also known as the Cuckmere Estuary) is an area of floodplain where the river Cuckmere meets the English Channel. The beautiful section of non-tidal waters on the river that head down toward the coast and Sussex’s spectacular Seven Sisters cliffs is perfect for anyone who prefers a gentle and calming paddling experience. Starting from the public slipway at Seven Sisters Country park, the route slowly meanders its way through the gorgeous Cuckmere Valley and as you wriggle your way through the shallow, reedy waters, keep your eyes peeled for the wide variety of bird life that call Cuckmere their home. It’s a special place at sunset too, so for something a little different, try paddling its slow bends during the gradual transition to starlight when the bird life is even more vibrant and the gentle beauty of the area becomes even more spectacular.
Burgh Island, South Devon
Great for: A coastal island circumnavigation
It takes about an hour to explore all the ins and outs and caves around this fabulous little island, located just a short way off the coast of Bantham beach. You’ll need to wait for high tide to be able to paddle over to it, at which time you’ll also likely enjoy the strange sight of other would-be island hoppers making the same journey from beach to land aboard the island’s famous sea tractor. Circumnavigation complete, take you and your SUP ashore and reward yourself with a close-up look at the island’s famous Art Deco hotel (the inspiration for two Agatha Christie novels) before a quick drink and a bite to eat at the island’s cosy and wonderfully atmospheric The Pilchard Inn, whose existence dates all the way back to the 14th century.
Image: St Michael's Mount, Penzance
Great for: Sea Life Safaris
Pack your mask and snorkel and paddle from the long swathes of Marazion Beach out and around the southern tip of St Michael’s Mount and, spectacular settings aside, there’s a good chance you’ll see plenty of interesting sea life along the way. Jellyfish and starfish are among the most common species to inhabit these waters, but it’s possible you might also catch sight of the occasional grey seal bobbing in the waves, or glimpse the fins of dolphins and docile basking sharks further afield during summer through to autumn. Put alongside the array of sea birds that inhabit the dramatic skyline of the Cornish cliffs, this classic coastal route adds up to one of the best SUP sea safaris the UK has to offer.
Hickling Broad, Norfolk Broads
Great for: Exploring and spotting wildlife
Make no mistake, the Norfolk Broads are a SUP haven. Flat and winding, they’re great for all levels of paddle boarder, especially SUP beginners. Made up of 120 miles of navigable waterways, there are literally endless trips you could take along its network of 7 rivers and 63 broads. Hickling, the largest of Norfolk’s Broads, is dotted with quaintly picturesque, thatched cottages and boathouses, and edged with expansive reed beds making it a great spot to see some of the UK’s rarest wildlife. No deeper than 3 metres, the impression of vastness you get whilst entering the broad comes from the big skies and wide horizon rather than its depth, and the 9-mile round trip into it starting at Potter Heigham Bridge makes for a great day out exploring Hickling’s maze-like trove of aquatic nooks and crannies. Remember though, to paddle on the Broads you need a license which you can obtain easily from The Broads Authority.
Image: River Dart
Totnes, River Dart, Devon
Great for: Woodland, rolling hills and historic buildings
The River Dart really is the quintessential English river. Rolling hills and pastures, grand homes and boathouses sprinkle the 9-mile stretch from the trendy town of Totnes down to the pretty harbour at Dartmouth. Start at high tide from public slipway next to the Dart-Totnes Rowing club and you’ll soon be winding your way through tall oak forests and past Sharpham House and its award-winning vineyard, before eventually reaching Stoke Point and a hidden creek leading to a peaceful mill pond near the village of Stoke Gabriel. After paddling on to Dartmouth, you can enjoy a rest whilst taking in the town’s attractive harbour, before hopping you and your SUP on the Dartmouth-Totnes river cruise for a well -earned motorised return to the start.
Great for: City excursions
A wealth of cultural landmarks and nature encounters await you on the 9 mile stretch between Richmond and Kingston-Upon-Thames as you paddle along the UK’s most iconic waterway. A convenient getaway for London city-goers in need of a day out on the water, head off from the steps just downstream from Kingston Bridge and take in plenty of greenery and wildlife en route – look out for grey herons, swans and kingfishers. Upon your arrival in Richmond, you’ll be able to refuel at one of the numerous and lively eateries that adorn the river’s edge.
Image: Cotswold Water Park
Lake 86, Cotswold Water Park
Great for: First timers, safe and friendly support, hassle-free nature
Cotswold Water Park Hire is based right next door to our flagship store in South Cerney and you're often likely to find our staff enjoying the outdoors here on their days off. This being a smaller, privately run lake it offers an easy adventure either as a first time outing or with the family. With nearby parking and safety cover included, you can focus on the board, the water and being outside. Until recently the lake had been left to nature and it's been converted with this in mind, keeping the large reed beds that ensure the clear water and provide the thriving waterfowl population with their homes and playgrounds. On a quiet day you may also see deer and families of ducklings. A much loved destination by local families throughout the summer.
For information or booking head to cotswoldwaterparkhire.com
Image: Mawddach Estuary
Mawddach Estuary, Mid-Wales
Great For: Paddle to Pub
Fringed by forested hillsides and overlooked by the peaks of Snowdonia National Park, the setting for the wide waters of the 6-mile Mawddach Estuary in the heart of the Gwynedd countryside is pretty stunning. Starting out from the harbour at the seaside town of Barmouth, you’ll soon be marveling at the impressive line of arches that make up Barmouth Bridge and the railway line that connects the town, and after taking in the spectacular views, you’ll eventually reach the sleepy village of Bontddu which played a significant role in the local gold rush of the late 1800s. From here it’s a short paddle with skyline views of Cadair Idris (one of Wales’ highest mountains) before you reach Penmaenpool and the George III Hotel which has been serving ale since 1650. Or if you prefer, you can do the route in reverse and finish at The Last Inn in Barmouth – an even older watering hole dating back to the 15th Century - making this route a pub-to-pub classic.
Black Rock Sands and Portmeirion, Gwynned
Great For: Italian-like coastlines
At high tide this 7 ½ mile return trip from the sandy beach at Black Rock Sands takes you east past the cute coastal villages of Borth-y-Gest and Porthmadog with the mountains of Snowdonia stooped in the distance. It’s further up this pretty estuary however that the ultimate treat of this paddling adventure lies. As you gaze upon the quirky and colourful buildings of the stunning village of Portmeirion, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Italy’s Amalfi coast. Designed and built from scratch by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis over 50 years from 1925, there really is nothing else like it in the UK and it’s no surprise it’s become one of Wales’ most visited attractions. A quick circumnavigation of the nearby Ynys Gifftan – a small island to the east of Portmeirion - caps off a perfect day’s paddling before retracing your strokes to Black Rock Sands.
Image: Newgale Beach
Newgale to Solva, Pembrokshire
Great for: Coastal wildlife, secluded coves
Limestone cliffs, spectacular bays, hidden coastal gems, clear blue waters – the National Park coastline of Pembrokeshire is a spectacular place to SUP simply because there’s so much choice. Newgale beach, long-established as a special place for watersports, is surely one of the best. With 3km of uninterrupted clear water, it’s a great spot for a leisurely coastal paddle, or you can follow the coastline west until you reach the river Solva and the attractive village of the same name, exploring along the way the fascinating rock formations, veiled caves and secluded coves that adorn this fabulous stretch of Welsh coastline. If you’re lucky, you may even see one of the areas Atlantic grey seals en route! Just remember to be mindful of the tides and weather to help facilitate your passage.
Image: Loch Harport
Loch Harport, Isle of Skye
Great for: Wilderness Paddling
A must-visit location for SUP enthusiasts, Loch Harport - flanked by the muted grey and browns of the Skye’s magnificent Cuillin Mountain range – is the ultimate wilderness SUP experience. There is no set route or best way to explore the loch, rather just set out from the floating pontoon and enjoy the time and space to relax and paddle where your whim takes you as you float around these majestic and wild, natural surroundings. When you do eventually run out of paddle power, it’s likely time to head to the original Talisker Whiskey Distillery, conveniently located near the starting pontoon, to sample the intense notes of one of Scotland’s most famous single malts.
Holy Isle, Isle of Aran
Great for: Island adventures
Whitling Bay is the starting point for this stunning 5-mile paddle along the Firth of Clyde, following the shoreline of Scotland’s glorious Isle of Aran. After you pass the headland at Kingscross Point, you’ll be greeted by the splendid view of Holy Isle – a tiny island just off the Arran mainland that’s bursting at the seams with fascinating history. Open to visitors between March – October, paddle along its western shore before landing to seek out the isle’s healing spring, 6th Century hermit cave and the remains of a 13th Century monastery. Nowadays, people visit to find their own sense of inner peace at the Tibetan Buddhist retreat located on the north west tip. From here it’s a short paddle westward back to Lamlash on the mainland, one of the Aran’s prettiest villages.
Image: River Tay
The River Tay, Perthshire
Great for: Whitewater Rapids, gentle meanders.
For experienced paddlers looking for the challenge of whitewater, the fast waters and standing waves between Stanley to Thistlebrig on the River Tay are superb as well as a whole lot of fun. In fact, SUP heaven can be found on several sections of Scotland’s longest river as it flows from Loch Tay all the way down to the sea in Dundee. Beginners might try the calmer waters that wind past Tay Forest Park between Ballinluig village and the charming twin villages of Dunkeld and Birnam, where as well as stunning scenery, the river passes historic monuments such as the ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral and the famous Birnam Oak (as mentioned in Shakespeare's Macbeth). Is there a better way to travel through the beautiful natural surroundings of Perthshire? It doesn’t seem likely.
Image: Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough, County Down
Great for: Island hopping
If exploration and adventure is top of your wish list whilst out on your SUP, it’s hard to find a destination that can surpass Strangford Lough. Enclosed by the Ards Peninsula, the UK’s largest inlet is a place of seemingly endless opportunities for discovery - a watery paradise riddled with channel mazes and peppered with more than 70 islands to seek out and explore. With so many places to choose from, why not try Killyleagh in the south west corner and paddle to Salt Island Bothy, the perfect place for island adventure, and then onto Daft Eddie's restaurant on Sketrick Island where you can tuck into a hearty meal after your SUP adventure.
Thinking of somewhere different?
Lots of waterways in England and Wales do not require a licence to paddle and many others do. GoPaddling is a great resource to use to check if the waterway you plan to use requires a licence or not. The easiest and simplest way of obtaining a licence and secure paddling insurance is by joining British Canoeing which also has a helpful guide around the waterways licence - explaining what it is, when, and if, you need it, and how to get your hands on one!
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