Last week it was my birthday. And, as I am now newly separated, I refused to spend the day moping around doing nothing. So, with that in mind and with an offer to join a friend, I finally found the perfect chance to go and try SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) for the first time.
I’ve wanted to try paddleboarding ever since I saw people doing it last summer in the sea in Cornwall – something about it just appealed to me. I never plucked up the courage and have been harbouring a desire to do it ever since.
I’m not going to lie; the thought of paddleboarding on a muddy river in Gloucestershire didn’t quite hold the same appeal as paddleboarding on a beautiful, glistening sea in Cornwall followed by a cheeky cider in the sun.
A couple of friends and I had booked on to a two hour beginners lesson and part of me wondered whether or not it was actually necessary to have a lesson before giving it a bash. I mean, how hard could it really be?
We booked our lesson with SUP Gloucester and our instructor (Matt) was great. He made us feel welcome and at ease and explained all the basics about the inflatable boards in a quick and easy to follow fashion. I was surprised to learn that the river was actually flowing in the opposite direction to what it looked to be on the surface due to the wind – kind of scary when you think about the danger you could get into not knowing basics like this!
Before we knew it we were knee deep in the River Severn clambering on to our boards. It was quite funny because no sooner had we all mounted then a motorised boat came steaming around the corner. Suffice to say one of my friends learnt to paddle incredibly quickly in a very short space of time!!
Once we’d crossed the river, we paddled around a narrow channel of the River Avon stopping along the way to learn techniques such as turning, steering and stopping. Once my legs had stopped shaking I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to master each skill. The waterway was so calm and the riverbanks so high so it felt very private and as though you were miles away from anyone – it was a lovely escape for a few hours.
By the time the two hours were up I felt fairly competent on the paddle board and would happily get on one again – in fact I’m going this Saturday as it happens. It was hard work on the core and upper body and I think some people in the group found it tough going on the legs. I guess it all depends on your current level of fitness and your own personal physical strengths and weaknesses. Having said that there was no pressure to stand up at all and if you wanted to spend the lesson on your knees that would have been fine too!