McConks menu logo

McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Upper Tamar Lake, Bude, Cornwall.


Upper Tamar Lake, Bude, Cornwall.

Spot type:

Sheltered flat/freshwater reservoir a few miles outside of Bude.


Upper Tamar Lake is mostly sheltered and therefore offers flat water for paddling. Occasionally breeze will kick up some moderate chop. But even then it’s not too much of an issue.


Upper Tamar Lake is a safe location for paddling. There’s a dam just to the right of Tamar Lake Activities Centre which you’ll need to keep well clear of. Other than that it’s mainly windsurfers, dinghy sailors and kayaks you’ll need to be aware of. Most water goers will be under the supervision of instructors though.


Turn right at Holsworthy and follow the sign to Tamar down winding Cornish country roads. There’s then a big car park to leave your vehicle before a short walk brings you to the water’s edge.


If you’re using the activities centre for hire or tuition you can use the changing rooms and showering facilities.  The centre itself offers lessons and equipment hire. You’ll need to book in advance though. Close by you’ll find a selection of rural Cornish pubs for refreshments. Or head back to Holsworthy or Bude for even more. There’s also camping close to the lake.


Upper Tamar Lake has been used for watersports a lot over the years. Widemouth based Outdoor Adventure have conducted their windsurfing and dinghy tuition at Upper Tamar. As have Bude based Adventure International. It’s a popular spot for walking and cycling too.

In more recent times paddle boarding has become a focus with the activities centre offering lessons and hire. It’s a good place for taking those first steps with SUP as there are no real dangers. Apart from the dam which can see clearly and therefore will keep well clear of.

On mellow, warm sunny days it’s a lovely, chilled out spot to do a bit of wildlife gazing from atop your SUP. There’s lots of birdlife in the area so who knows what you might see. If it should blow the lake still keeps its flat water intact (mostly). A degree of chop may show up but there’s always a nook or cranny on the lake where you can hide from breeze.

The biggest thing about paddling at Upper Tamar Lake is you’re in Cornwall. Which is normally noted for its coastline. And while the coast isn’t far away the lake offers much respite if you need a change. It certainly doesn’t feel coastal here. And that’s nice for a change of tack.

Don’t forget to check out other bitesize travel guides here.

Subscribe for our carefully curated two weekly newsletter with tips, tricks, giveaways and competitions.


We promise not to spam you.

Are you a coach or guide wanting the best gear?

drop us a line and keep in touch