With stand up paddleboarding (SUP) being one of the UK’s fastest-growing recreational activities on the water it is no surprise that people want to know where the best places to paddleboard in the UK are located.
The UK has a fantastic array of waterways and beaches to choose from and you will want to find the best scenery to improve your experience. It’s important to consider the type of conditions you will find, and this will very much depend on your level of experience and skill.
One thing to remember is that the coastal waters in the UK are tidal so don’t forget to check out the tide times before you set out. Slack tides are best for paddleboarders where the tide is moving at its minimum. Beginners should choose the two hours before and after the highest and lowest tides for the easiest conditions.
Rivers may seem like a safer option than the sea, but you do need to look out for potential hazards such as weirs and other river traffic. You should also consider hygiene as some stretches of water are more polluted than others.
One of the best ways to check out potential spots is to ask local experts, shops and hire centres for information.
I know this intro is a little safety heavy, but if you are planning a paddleboard trip always tell someone on shore where you intend to go.
Where to paddle board – 10 great places to paddle board in the UK
We have put together a list of some of the best places to paddle board in the UK. All of the places have a unique draw for SUPs and will make your paddle boarding experience more memorable.
Some areas are suited to those with their own boards who want to go ahead and explore on their own while other areas offer board hire in addition to plenty of support with clubs and instructors who can offer tuition and guidance from beginners upwards. There are also opportunities for tours led by guides who can help you get more out of your experience and discover new things.
However, it’s important to note that we think there are some places that you should avoid if you are a complete beginner such as the Jurassic Coast and Saunton Sands. To keep yourself safe you should choose places that are more suited to your ability and experience.
We would always recommend that you take some lessons before heading out on your own adventures.
Chichester Harbour – West Sussex
Great for paddle boarding to a pub
Chichester Harbour is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) located in West Sussex and Hampshire on the south coast of England. It is a large biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) based west of Chichester in Hampshire.
The large natural harbour has sheltered waters that are home to an abundance of wildlife with special protection for birdlife. It is home to a wide variety of birds including plovers, redshanks and greenshanks. You’ll often see a seal pop its head above water to say hello, like one did in the image above during last summer! The unspoilt tranquil coastline makes a perfect place for paddle boarders to enjoy being close to nature with stunning views.
Not only will paddleboarders find themselves surrounded by nature but they will also be accompanied by a wide assortment of sailors and participants in other water activities.
The harbour is home to the Sandy Point Watersports and Chandlery who offer both hire and lessons for paddle boarders. They have great facilities including an on-site restaurant and bar with parking, toilets and showers for those who hire a board. They offer advice about the area and conditions as well as tuition for beginners of all abilities. For those who like a guide and want to build up an appetite, Fluid Adventures offer a great Pub Paddle around the harbour, stopping for lunch at a pub and taking in the scenery at the marina.
Fowey River – Cornwall
‘The Cornish Amazon’
The River Fowey begins its journey on Bodmin Moor and ends up 27 miles later in the sea at Fowey in South Cornwall. Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Fowey estuary sits at the bottom of a steep valley with over 1,000 acres of spectacular views and rare habitats.
You can choose a variety of paddle routes including a stunning but sedate four-mile stretch between Golant to Lostwithiel. Paddleboarders should be aware that the waters here are tidal but for those who are more experienced, they can ride the tide an hour before high tide and ride it back on the return giving a more stretching eight-mile ride.
Golant itself is a pretty village with a pub but paddleboarders will find that there are some exposed areas on the water where winds can cause a problem. The tidal creek at Penpol is a beautiful place to explore and enjoy the wildlife in peaceful surroundings.
There are plenty of wooded creeks along the river to explore. All offer stunning views and nature at its best.
Paddle Cornwall offer a selection of hire, lessons and tours for all abilities in the area and are passionate about paddle boarding as a sport and relaxing recreational activity. Based in Golant they also have a handy café for your well-earned refreshments.
Jurassic Coast – Dorset
A fossil forest. Better for more experienced paddle boarders
The Jurassic Coast starts in Exmouth in East Devon and stretches for 95 miles to Swanage in Dorset. It is packed full of iconic locations such as Durdle Door, Chesil Beach and West Bay. Classed as England’s only Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO it is famous for its rocks, fossils and landforms from the Jurassic age.
Whilst Studland Bay makes a sheltered coastal area for paddle board beginners to explore, most of the waters are better suited to experienced paddle boarders. One adventurous advanced route is from Lulworth Bay, starting at the shingle beach and travelling to Durdle Door, paddling through crystal clear waters.
Old Harry Rocks is another location for experienced boarders, but it is not for the faint-hearted as specialist advanced skills are required to negotiate the rocks and tides.
Confident paddle boarders will enjoy going through the iconic arch at Durdle Door which makes an unforgettable experience and an Instagram worthy memory.
The good news is that there are plenty of paddle boarding schools along the coast ready to offer board hire, tuition or tours.
Fore Adventure offers lessons for beginners in Studland bay but they also offer lessons for intermediates and tours for more advanced paddle boarders.
Saunton Sands – Devon
Perfect mellow wave to learn sup surfing
Saunton Sands is located in North Devon and for many years has been much loved by the surfing community. In recent times it has also developed into the ideal spot for experimenting with some SUP surfing. With its golden sands and over three miles of waves, it offers a surf style paradise for adventure lovers and space to get away from the crowds.
The beach at Saunton Sands is surrounded by the remarkable Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is a popular holiday destination with good shops and food outlets as well as toilets and a convenient car park. Despite its popularity, it often feels peaceful as there is plenty of room to spread out.
The beach here is known for its friendly laid back feel and it has the benefit of long slow waves that make learning SUP surfing skills easier. Beware of the high tidal range here and consider taking lessons to get yourself equipped to deal with the conditions.
Walking on Waves offers SUP Surfing lessons at Saunton Sands as well as board hire and a safari experience for more competent paddle board surfers.
Walton-on-Thames – London
Tranquil London setting to get away from the big smoke
Walton-on-Thames is a leafy market town on the south bank of the Thames in Surrey. A bit of a hidden gem, you will find that the river on the northern boundary of the town is well suited to a variety of water sports including rowing and kayaking with SUP now very popular here.
Since the River Thames is non-tidal here, it’s a great spot to enjoy some relaxing time on the water. To make a day out, you will find lots of riverside pubs and restaurants close by. With only a 30-minute train ride southwest from Waterloo to get here, it is a great tranquil spot for escaping city life.
The Thames River here has a marina, and you will see plenty of barges moored at the side of the river. Walton Bridge connects the two banks and the one you see now is the sixth version with previous bridges replaced due to building problems or war damage.
This vibrant area has plenty of SUP clubs in the area. The Blue Chip SUP School at Walton-on-Thames both offer SUP lessons for beginners upwards with fully accredited instructors. They also both offer a club for social paddling sessions and trips.
Read more about paddle boarding in London >
Loch Ness – Scotland
The lochs are safe and a great place to learn. Find hidden beaches
Everyone has heard of Loch Ness and many people go in search of the infamous Nessie but it’s hard to beat the awe-inspiring views for a bit of SUP in Scotland. Stretching for 23 miles from Fort Augustus to Inverness means there are plenty of places to access the water safely.
An impressive freshwater lake, the Loch’s deepest point is 230 metres (126 fathoms; 755 feet), which makes it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar. With its dark murky water caused by the high peat content, it is no wonder that the legend of the Loch Ness monster arose.
Although a safe place for beginners, it’s important to understand that the size of the Loch means that there can be varied weather conditions, so you need to be prepared for anything. The West seems to be the calmer side of the Loch and the small marina on the A82 heading towards Inverness makes a safe entry point for those going it alone.
Based in Inverness, Explore Highland offers paddle board hire, guided trips suitable for families, and individual lessons. While In Your Element offers a variety of paddle boarding trails to help you explore the waters and find those elusive hidden beaches.
River Trent – Staffordshire
Amazing scenery like the Anchor caves
The River Trent in Staffordshire is the third-longest river in the UK at 185 miles long. Starting in the Staffordshire moors, it flows through the shires in the Midlands and weaves through cities such as Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent before joining the River Ouse. It’s a great place for a tour and makes a great multi-day adventure.
One of the highlights of the river is Anchor Church, a series of caves near Ingleby in Derbyshire. The sandstone outcrop was extended into a crude dwelling place in the 6th century by an Anchorite hermit. As well as an important geological site it is now a wildlife haven.
The River Trent is also home to the Trent100 which is the UK’s longest paddle boarding team endurance challenge. Starting in Staffordshire and ending in Nottingham it involves camping, music and food in addition to paddle boarding.
If endurance is not your thing, then you will be pleased to learn that, as you would expect on such a long stretch of water, there are plenty of clubs and hire opportunities. For something different, SUP Fitness offers yoga workouts as well as a wide variety of unusual paddle board fitness sessions aimed at people from different age groups and abilities based in Nottingham, Beeston and Colwick park.
Bala Lake – Wales
Beautiful mountain scenery. The largest natural lake in Wales
Lake Bala (Llyn Tegid) is the largest freshwater natural lake in Wales and it is surrounded by the beautiful hills of Snowdonia. In the summer it is a popular destination for all forms of water sports with SUP being very popular.
This area is filled with rivers, plummeting off the mountains into great bodies of water. The Tryweryn and Dee flow either side of Bala, creating Bala Lake. Whether it’s paddle boarding, sailing, canoeing, or wild swimming you’ll find the right spot here.
The lake is deep and clear, measuring one mile across for a short paddle or if you want a challenge, you can paddle a circular route that measures about seven miles. If you are going out on your own board, you need to remember to purchase a permit from the Snowdonia National Park for £4 per day.
There are a few different paddle board hire places around the shores of the lake. Green Dragon, based in the historic town of Bala, also offers a paddle board store for all your board and accessory needs.
River Stour – Kent
Paddle through quaint villages with riverside pubs
Based in Kent, the River Stour runs East from the Kent countryside towards the North Sea at Pegwell Bay where the shingle beach is lined with white cliffs. Nearer the bay, the river is tidal so it is important to check the tide times there. You will find that the upper parts of the river are gentler.
The Upper Stour begins at Lenham and where it widens at Ashford it becomes the Lower Stour. Along the river, you will find the towns of Ashford and Sandwich as well as the historic city of Canterbury. The Stour Valley walk also follows the route of the river.
The Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve runs along the river and it is perfect for a countryside paddle with banks filled with reedbeds giving a real feel of wilderness. Crayfish, bream, stickleback and eels are plentiful as well as moorhens, swans and kingfishers. If you are lucky, you may even see some birds of prey in the fields alongside the river.
As well as enjoying nature, thirsty paddlers will be pleased to note that there are heaps of riverside pubs along the route. Between the villages of Upstreet and Westmere, you will find no less than five different places to stop off for refreshments!
Canoe Wild offers paddle board hire as well as some taster sessions from Grove Ferry or Fordwich. They even offer a seal watching experience at Pegwell Bay.
Beadnell Bay Beach – Northumberland
A stunning beach in the Northeast, a wide range of conditions meaning surfers and beginners can practice on the same beach
Northumberland is well known for its sense of adventure and breathtaking beauty. Beadnell Bay is part of the heritage coast there and it is a gloriously wide, sandy beach shaped in a semi-circle just south of the village of Beadnell close to Alnwick. With golden sands and a natural harbour, sand dunes and fields it is a majestic part of the world. It has five-star water quality and has plenty of facilities in the town.
Classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) it has become a popular destination for all types of water sport enthusiasts. With a car park and toilets, it has all the facilities needed for a convenient water-based adventure.
Beadnell Bay Beach offers conditions for both beginner and expert SUP enthusiasts. The stunning open beaches with sheltered bays and flatwater rivers mean that it is ideal for all abilities.
As well as shops in the town that offer hire or purchase of water sports equipment, KA Kitesurfing provides SUP hire and lessons.
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.