Paddle boarding has definitely been the craze of the summer, with so many people giving it a go and loving it. Despite living so close to one of the best stretches of coastline in the UK, I’m just not sure how I’d cope doing it on the sea just yet. Twice this summer I’ve been paddle boarding on Lake Windermere in the Lake District instead, and no pun intended but that’s definitely more of what I can get on board with.
Overall paddle boarding is a great, safe water sports activity that can actually be really quite relaxing. I’ve only been twice, but had two very different experiences. These are the two companies I’ve gone with, so if you’re interested in trying out paddle boarding in the Lake District then I’d recommend both.
Graythwaite Adventures, Ulverston
Graythwaite Adventures operate across the Graythwaite Estate between Newby Bridge and Hawkshead, and the exact location will depend on your activity. For paddle boarding you obviously head down to the lake using postcode LA12 8BA and follow the track off the main road down to the lake shore.
As well as paddle boarding they offer clay pigeon shooting, 4X4 off reading, archery and a number of other water sports. For paddle boarding you can either hire a board and go out yourself, or do it as a group activity with a guide.
On my cousins hen do at the start of July we did it as a group activity, fully hungover and all a bit subdued to begin with. You can rent wetsuits if you want to and a couple of girls did, but the rest of us just wore shorts, leggings and clothes we didn’t mind getting wet.
The guide takes you through the basics of how to kneel and stand on it, safety instructions and hands out your life jackets. Off we went for an hour and a half session paddling slowly around the coves on the edge of the lake. It took us a while to get going but once we did everyone loved it.
The guide was a good laugh, basically giving us challenges designed to make us fall in. Swapping boards, doing yoga on them, walking up and down them and racing amongst us. Some of us fell in, some jumped in and some remained dry. I think this is the pull of a lake paddle over the sea for me, as long as you’re careful you can stay dry if you choose to, and if you do fall in it’s nowhere near as freezing!
It was relatively quiet at this spot with not much boat traffic, and on the calm day we got there were very little waves. It was very serene and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite a few of us booked to go again with partners or families.
Take a look at Graythwaite Adventures here.
Windermere Canoe Kayak, Ambleside & Bowness
We were in the lakes over bank holiday weekend for my sisters wedding, and before all the celebrations began we had some spare time on the Friday so I decided to book me and Kieran in for a paddle board. This time I searched for a different company based around where we needed to be, and found Windermere Canoe Kayak.
They have two locations, one in Ambleside just by the Youth Hostel on the lakes edge, and the other in Bowness. Originally I was going to book Ambleside because I’m more familiar with it, but after reading about the Bowness area of the lake I went for there instead.
Basically the Ambleside location offers more open water, with that fabulous backdrop you can see from Waterhead, whereas the Bowness part of the lake has so many little islands to explore and paddle around. I thought it might be a bit quieter there too as we were on a bit of a time schedule for later in the day.
Parking was easy as there’s a public car park just before the companies hut, which has plenty spaces and you can use the Pay by Phone app to pay. This wasn’t a guided paddle, it was just a hire and we could go off on our own. For this it was £20 per person.
There are three two hour slots during the day, and you have to arrive 15 minutes early to go through all the info. We were booked in for the 12pm – 2pm slot, and were given life jackets, dry bags for our stuff and signed all relevant paperwork before heading down to the lake.
We were each given our boards, our paddles and a quick safety run through, as well as info on where we could and couldn’t go to out on the water. It’s all National Trust land, so you’re fine to go to any of the little islands, except the massive one in the middle which is privately owned!
Off we went through the moored up sailing boats and over to the islands. We had no intention of getting off, but we did paddle around trying to see who lives on the private island in the middle. It was a glorious day, bright sun and the odd boat went past carrying people enjoying the lake and good weather.
The scenery and views were just incredible, and the water was so inviting in the heat that we both jumped in. I’m not going to lie it was still bloody cold, but you warmed up so quickly it was very refreshing. It was nice to just lie on the boards and relax too.
You just can’t beat the Lakes for scenery.
When our time was up we paddled back to hand the boards in and head off to the wedding.
Depending on who you’re doing it with and how many of you there are I’d recommend both Lake District paddle boarding companies. Having done it with a guide once to learn what you need to know, I definitely preferred just hiring them the second time to paddle where we pleased.
Take a look at Windermere Canoe Kayak here.
I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but its definitely not as hard as I expected – I have yet to fall in! That said I’ve not done it on the sea and that makes me more nervous as it’s not as calm water, and a lot colder if I fell in. I know so many people that do though, either on Cullercoats Bay, Tynemouth or up in Amble. Maybe next summer!
But for paddle boarding in the Lake District both of these companies are great choices, offering a range of different locations around Lake Windermere.
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