It won’t be long before our first cold snap of the winter of 2023/24, and water temperatures head south again.
We know lots of you hang paddles for the winter, at least until water temperatures start rising again. But, if this is you, here’s a few things that might tempt you back into the water earlier than you might otherwise have done; winter can serve up some awesome SUP conditions if you keep your eyes peeled and be ready to go.
Here’s the top 5 reasons why winter paddle boarding can beat the winter blues
1. Sunrise/sunset paddle boarding is easier.
Unlike summer, where dawn’s crack and end of play are much earlier/later in the day winter’s sunrise and sunsets happen at more sociable hours for those who don’t like getting up at stupid’o’clock. Or late for that matter. For sure, days are shorter but that does make that SUP starts and day ends more achievable. At McConks we’re a massive fan of setting the alarm (which normally involves telling our youngest we’re going to do something exciting in the morning) getting up pre dawn, wrapping up super warm, making a flask of brew, grabbing some bananas and pain au chocolat and heading for the water. This could just be for quick sunrise dip or a slightly longer paddle – either way, being warm in the cold at sunrise really resets the stress hormones and sets you up for the day. Of course, some of that stress can quickly return if you’re rushing to get ready for work or school, but the early morning boost definitely makes it feel easier.
It could be you’re restricted to weekend sunrise/sunset paddle boarding due to the pressures of work, and that’s us most of the time too. But we’d definitely urge you to try your hardest get a few winter sessions like this under your belt. Winter sunrise and sunset paddle sessions can be so fulfilling!
2. Everywhere is much quieter.
With the majority back on the daily grind you can be sure that everything will be much quieter than it was during summer; the roads, the rivers, the beaches. Even some places that you’d avoid during the height of summer become pleasant and tranquil places during the winter. Some of our persona favourite places to paddle became no-go zones during lockdown – and only partly due to the increase in people taking to the water – mostly due to the increase in anti social behaviour off the water! Of course, there’ll always be those motivated types that you could encounter during your session. But for peaceful and tranquil SUP you can’t beat the off season.
There’s nothing quite like an idyllic winter’s day that’s still, crisp and sunny to get those happy hormones flowing.
3. Winter SUP sessions can be more fulfilling.
Heading afloat takes more mental commitment than during warmer months. You’ll need to be wearing more paddle board clothing and committed to tackling colder weather. It is cold in winter – there are no two ways about it – but once you get going that cold can be a plus point. It feels great to know you’ve gotten over that frosty hurdle and made the transition from land to water. In no time at all you’ll be toasty as whilst piloting your paddle board.
And post-sesh the stoke levels are high. Winter paddling’s harder than summer so to know you got amongst it and had an enjoyable time is fulfilling.
4. Post-sessions brews in front of a roaring fire are ace.
Perhaps a romanticised image of what could be but (as not everyone has access to a roaring log fire). But if you know where to find one, that you can basque in the heat and glow of, the contentment you’ll feel is tangible. Having been afloat find, say, a pub with a fire is a great course of action. Sipping a brew (or even bevvy if it’s that time of day) you can toast your reward to a day well spent winter paddling.
At the very least that hot bath or shower, once you’re home, can be amazing. Whether in front of the fire or in hot water it’s the perfect time to reflect on your SUP.
5. You’re much closer to nature
Yes, we know that spring is the time that nature really comes to life. But during the winter foliage is thinner or non existent, and human disturbances to wildlife are fewer. Therefore our native fauna is a little less nervous, and encounters are that much more likely. Whether this is a kingfisher flashing past, an otter splashing past your board, or a bottlenose dolphin in the distance, there is nothing quite like a wildlife encounter to fill your heart with good feels! Like any time of the year, treat animals with respect, give them their space and keep your distance.
These are just a few plus points to winter paddle boarding. What are your favourite off season SUP experiences?
Advice for winter paddleboarding
Of course, paddleboarding when the water is cold and when the weather can be unpredictable has it’s dangers.
This article by British Canoeing gives sound advice before paddling in winter. Crucially: