We were lucky enough to spend last weekend paddle boarding on Lake Windermere. It was the most amazing experience. Here’s our beginner’s guide to paddle boarding on Windermere in the Lake District.
We love to try different water sports and stand up paddle boarding has become so increasingly popular why wouldn’t we want to give it a try? We found it great exercise, lots of fun, and really a relaxing and mindful activity. We found it really easy to pick up the technique and can’t wait to get out on the boards again. Here’s our beginners guide to stand up paddle boarding.
What is paddle boarding?
Paddle boards are similar to surfboards however they are longer, wider, and sometimes thicker making them much more stable allowing you to quite easily stand up on them. You have a leash that attaches to the ankle keeping you connected to the board so that it cannot drift away if you fall into the water. You then use a paddle you propel yourself forward. Paddle boarding is a great workout for core body strength as you use your hips and legs to help you balance.
What should I wear?
If you are a beginner to paddle boarding prepare to possibly fall in! Wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet and that won’t soak up water and become heavy. I wore swimwear a light, a vest top, shorts, and a light throw-on shirt as it was a little chilly. I was really comfortable. Some activity companies will provide you with wetsuits, or you can bring your own to make yourself more comfortable. Make sure to take a towel and a change of clothing just in case. I went barefoot and took flip-flops with me but light trainers or paddle shoes are great too. Lots of boards will have straps at the front of the board you can secure a dry bag under, just don’t pack anything too heavy.
If it is sunny, don’t forget to wear suncream a hat and sunglasses. On the water, you are very exposed and can easily burn.
Tips for beginners to stand up paddle boarding that helped us!
- Check the weather, a calm day with little wind is perfect for beginners mastering their techniques. Weather can change quickly so it is important to be aware.
- Look at the horizon, when we start paddling we naturally look down at the board. However, for the best stability, you want to keep your head up, your back straight, and your body weight over your toes.
- Stay clear of boats, and be mindful of other water users. Make sure you have plenty of room to practice standing, falling, and paddling.
- Try to fall away from your board if you fall. Your board is attached to you with your leash and it won’t go away, but falling well clear of the board will let you fall without hurting yourself on the board or the fins.
- Take your time, it will take a little while to get comfortable with your technique. There’s no rush and enjoy the views.
Where can I try stand up paddle boarding in the Lake District?
You can either hire a stand-up paddle board, book yourself onto a lesson or take your own. We hired ours from Ambleside YHA (Waterhead). They offer paddle boards (no experience necessary). The hire cabin is located in the lakeside garden of YHA Ambleside (right next to Waterhead pier) and is the perfect location to explore the northern end of Windermere. It’s not quite as quiet here as at Grasmere but quiet enough for beginners. Hire is available between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm during the summer holidays and selected dates. There is a cafe/bar at the YHA offering takeaway ready to provide you with cake and tea or a beer after a journey on the water.
Included in hire:
- Paddle board, paddle, buoyancy aid.
- A dry bag, if requested.
- A brief instruction before hire.
The instruction was brilliant and really helped us out with tips to stand up. Essentially you have the freedom of the whole lake – time permitting! The staff happily pointed out the best and most scenic locations and gave us rough times it would take to travel to and back. We asked if we could stop and get out anywhere and they gladly showed us the safest place to do this.
Lake District Paddle Boarding
This company dedicated solely to SUP, Lake District Paddle Boarding cover a large area of Cumbria, and provide lessons, board hire, and guided SUP safari trips.
Windermere Canoe Kayak
Here you can hire a SUP which includes a brief instruction session. You can also hire wetsuits here too.
West Lakes Adventure
Half-day or full-day guided sessions are available.
Ullswater Paddle Boarding
Here you can hire SUPs or join Ullswater Paddle Boarding for lessons and tours on Ullswater.
Coniston Boating Centre
Hire only available at the Coniston Boating Centre, located on the shores of Coniston Water.
Derwent Water Arena
You can book onto a lesson or hire a paddle board. Hire includes wetsuits, and the use of the changing facilities and car parks. Hot showers are also available for an additional fee.
Have you tried stand up paddle boarding on Windermere? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.