You are currently viewing SUP spots for beginners – 5 great locations in Southern(ish) England.

SUP spots for beginners – 5 great locations in Southern(ish) England.

SUP spots for beginners are abundant. But as a beginner, you mightn’t be aux fait with what makes a good beginner SUP venue. We should also add this isn’t a definitive ‘these ARE the best’ article. Instead, this article features ‘SOME of the best beginner stand up paddle boarding locations we know about and have experience of’. And that last point is key. We’ve actually been there, paddled and experienced the place. Rather than Google researching we’ve actually taken inflatable SUPs and hard stand up paddle boards for a float and play at these places. Hopefully, that instills credibility when we recommend the below. That does mean that they are restricted to places that we know, and hence restricted by geography sorry!

SUP safety – a word on that first.

When talking about beginner SUP spots the overriding factor should be SUP safety. Wherever newbie paddle boarders choose to put in the venue should be safe and allow riders to progress without too many issues. There’ll always be some though. SUP isn’t without risk – although it’s still accessible. But every paddler should have some safety aspects put in place before going afloat.

  • Make sure you’re up to the task. Don’t take on conditions you’re not comfortable with.
  • Paddle with a group or friends – ideally other paddlers more experienced than you.
  • Make sure you’re kit’s water ready. Everything should be set up correctly without any wear or tear that’ll lead to euipment malfunctions.
  • Wear a leash. And the correct one at that! Here at McConks we supply coiled leashes and quick release leash belts that the coiled leash attaches to. This is becoming industry standard, although we’re not 100% there yet. We’d advise you use the same system and know how to operate it.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. A westuit may be the right thing. But equally it might not. Layering is also another good idea as you can remove attire, and replace, as needed.
  • Have weather forecast information to hand and have an idea how that’ll affect things on the day you plan to paddle.
  • Have some idea about the location you plan on paddling.
  • Avoid heavily tidal locations and venues exposed to the elements. A sheltered, flat water location with minimal chop is best.
  • Get a lesson. Going it alone is doable but with an experienced and qualified SUP instructor you’re much more likely to progress faster and safer.

Swanage Bay, Dorset.

Starting off with Dorset’s very own riviera resort, Swanage. Whilst Swanage is tidal it’s also very sheltered and pretty shallow. Even in the heaviest of SW/W storms. The only wind directions to look out for is E/NE/SE when it gets quite choppy. At either end of the bay you have ‘safety nets’. The beach beneath the cliff to the left as you look out to sea. (Just be careful of falling rocks here). And Swanage Harbour to the right. (Boat traffic needs to be avoided – especially in summer).

Swanage is also fairly shallow inshore so should you fall (which may happen often) being closer to the beach will mean you can touch the bottom. And this may inspire confidence. For anyone looking at getting tuition, there’s a stand up paddle board school in town. So look them up. You can read the McConks bitesize guide to Swanage here for further info.

Chichester Shipping Canal, Chichester, West Sussex.

A non-tidal waterway Chichester Shipping Canal is perhaps one of the most sheltered SUP locations on the whole south coast. There’s no current to worry about and it never gets too choppy. Even in the worst weather. It’s also pretty shallow in places so good for building confidence.

Plenty of paddlers use the canal for flat water work when it’s too blowy at open water venues. And there’s tuition and SUP hire available from these guys who are based right on the canal. Here’s the McConks bitesize guide to Chi Canal for more info.

Carbis Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall.

Another tidal spot, but also quite sheltered. Low tide is best and avoid any northerly winds and big storms. Swell can creep into the bay and you can surf here. During high season though Carbis Bay can offer idyllic flat water with some amazing Caribbean esque colours. You’ll need to watch out for current around the rocks at either end. And don’t get cut off if you choose to go exploring.

Carbis Bay is where the Ocean Sports Centre is based and they offer coaching and SUP hire. For more info on Carbis Bay hit up the McConks bitesize travel guide here.

Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire.

It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention McConks’ our favourite local spots – Lake 86 Cotswold Water Park Hire, and Lake 32 Outdoor Centre, Cotswold Water Park.

Lake 86

The lakes themselves can get a little choppy in a blow but mostly it’s flat water with a few nooks and crannies to explore. You can find out more about paddling in the water park here.

Chasewater Country Park, Staffordshire, West Mids.

If you happen to find yourself (or reside) close to Chasewater Country Park then you’ve hit the jackpot for flat water, lake paddling. Although inland Chasewater is still fairly exposed to breezy weather so watch out if there’s a blow. It can get pretty choppy. Mostly though the reservoir’s a tranquil escape for SUP action in the heart of the country.

Chasewater Sailing Club is very pro-SUP so definitely give them a shout if you’re planning a paddle here. Boardwise is also close by with Chasewater being the shop’s local haunt. They can provide plenty of gear, spares and advice. Hit up the Chasewater bitesize guide for more info here.

For even more ideas of where to paddle and what facilities can be found on site or close click the following links.

McConks bitesize SUP travel guides.

SUP Hub UK SUP spots.

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