In the last few years the early Autumn months have delivered some of the sunniest paddling days you could wish for – but it can’t be denied that right now the nights are drawing in, the temperatures are cooler and paddleboarding, like all outdoor sports, requires perhaps a bit more grit and enthusiasm at this time of year!
However for the dedicated paddleboarder, by following a few handy hints and with a little preparation you can keep your SUPing up right through the colder months.
Here are a few ideas for turning the ‘off-season’ into high times for your hobby. Read on for some ideas for great experiences and some things you need to consider in order to enjoy them in the season ahead.
- Early morning paddles
The clear skies and crisp mornings of Autumn and Winter can afford some of the most breath-taking views out on the nation’s waterways.
Spectacular sunrises, mist and river fog afford the morning landscape some eerie, awe-inspiring and unforgettable moments.
Be sure to wrap up well in case of a dip and paddle with a friend. Keep your phone (in a waterproof case) or Action-Cam handy to capture those epic vistas.
- Higher Water Rivers
Increased rainfall at this time of year means British rivers are generally running much higher, so they become pacy and potentially great fun. The view is better when you can see over the bank and you can cover impressive distances in little time.
If you have picked up experience and confidence over the summer and feel confident on faster flowing water, why not plan a downriver run in the higher water states of winter?
Take care you don’t attempt raging torrents that are beyond your skill level, make sure you go with friends and always wear a buoyancy aid. Also wear a belt style, quick release leash rather than an ankle leash, this will allow you to escape if your board or leash gets tangled. The higher and faster the water, the more essential this is. Take care, minimise your risks, but enjoy getting to know what your local river feels and looks like in different conditions – it can turn your local trip into a wholly new experience.
- Canal Trips
If the above sounds a little extreme and you don’t fancy running on a fast river when the water is high then you can always resort to the nation’s network of canals.
As the man made canal network is artificially maintained, the water level remains pretty much the same all year round and there is no flow to speak of so you can go in any direction with the same effort.
For both Rivers and Canals you should consider membership of British Canoeing which gives you access to thousands of miles of waterways via the waterways licence and a huge cache of advice on locations and routes to paddle.
- Winter surfing
In winter, beaches are less crowded and with the right wetsuit gear you can enjoy some of the best surfing of the year during winter. Water temperatures in October can still be some of the highest all year as the summer has had plenty of time to heat the sea up and it cools slowly.
However the air temperature is lower and the wind chill factor higher, and as you are up out of water more on a SUP, you need to rug up! A good 4mm or thicker wetsuit is essential once the water temperatures start to drop and you may want to consider a hood and gloves too. Don’t make your sessions last too long without a break as the cold will sap your energy faster. And have a flask of something hot waiting for you in the car!
- Glow paddles
Get some waterproof LED lights – stick them on (or under) your board – strap on a head torch and hey presto! You’re ready to get out with some friends on the water in the dark for a ‘glow paddle’!
A terrific and fun way to enjoy the darker evenings – just google Glow SUP Paddle and see what fun awaits. No doubt your local SUP group will be organising one soon, so look up your local club or group, join up and join in. This one is definitely a social activity, for both safety and general enjoyment.
So there’s five more ways to ‘Winterise’ your SUP habit and make sure you don’t go too out of practice before the sun breaks through again in the spring!
With all of these and indeed any SUP trip, always remember these golden safety rules:
- Wear a buoyancy aid.
- Paddle with a friend and make sure someone knows where you’re going and what kind of time you’re expected back.
- Where a quick release safety leash belt if in high or fast water
- Dress appropriately.
- Keep spare kit in your dry bag as well as some food and a hot drink.
- Take a mobile phone (but well waterproofed and secured).
Have fun out there – Happy Paddling!