5 of the best places to paddleboard in Somerset

With any luck, you'll spot some fascinating wildlife at Wimbleball too

With any luck, you'll spot some fascinating wildlife at Wimbleball too - Credit: Stephanie Walsh

Paddleboarding is a pastime that's really coming into its own, so Andrea Cowan explores some of the best places to balance the board in the county.

Wimbleball Lake, Exmoor
Wimbleball Lake is nestled within the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park. The walk around the perimeter is eight miles, which gives some idea of the scale of the lake, with its extensive shoreline and secluded inlets, bordered by nature reserves and wildflower meadows.

Looked after by the charity South West Lakes Trust, this special lake boasts a variety of special wildlife hotspots. Whilst enjoying the spectacular views, eagle-eyed paddleboarders can hope to see a range of wildfowl, as well as small pearl-bordered fritillary, or boloria selene, a special orange and brown butterfly often seen in spring within the Hurscombe Nature Reserve at the northern arm of the lake.

Paddleboard hire on the lake starts at £15 from the lake Activity Centre or you can launch your own board for £8 per day.
 

River Avon, Bath

If you organise the Bath SUP Tour with Original Wild you can be sure of an experienced guide on hand

If you organise the Bath SUP Tour with Original Wild you can be sure of an experienced guide on hand - Credit: Original Wild

For something completely different, how about exploring Bath from the tranquillity of the River Avon? 

There are several tours available. If you organise the Bath SUP Tour with Original Wild you can be sure of an experienced guide on hand, armed with local knowledge and ready to point out historical sites along the way. With any luck you might spot the local peregrine falcons nesting on St John the Evangelist RC Church. 

The destination of the tour is the famous Pulteney Bridge. The river provides a wonderful view of this Georgian jewel, designed in 1796 by Robert Adam and one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. From this vantage point on the river you can enjoy a view of Bath Abbey and Parade Gardens, as well as the crescent weir.

The Bath SUP tour is suitable for complete beginners and experienced paddlers alike. 

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Cheddar Reservoir

There is even the opportunity to try SUP Yoga

There is even the opportunity to try SUP Yoga - Credit: Aaron Geis

Paddleboarding in the reservoir promises a view of Cheddar Gorge, the Mendip Hills, including the mountainous summit, Crook Peak, and even Glastonbury Tor on a clear day.

The reservoir is home to the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club (BCYC), situated on the northern side. A wide range of water-based activities are available through Cheddar Watersports, part of the BCYC. This includes a selection of paddleboarding sessions led by a British Canoeing qualified instructor. 

There are introductory lessons, giant multi-person SuperSUPs to hire and regular groups which include a Sunday Sundowner session. There is even the opportunity to try SUP Yoga, involving a short paddle out on the reservoir where the boards are then tethered to a buoy, ready for you to put some floating yoga moves into action.

For anyone wanting to do their own thing, BCYC members can bring their own SUPs or hire out boards for £5 per hour.


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Porlock Weir

Porlock Weir provides some shelter from the impressive tidal range of our coastline

Porlock Weir provides some shelter from the impressive tidal range of our coastline - Credit: Dan French, Exmoor Adventures

It is thought that paddleboarding originated in Hawaii and, whilst Somerset can’t promise the warm temperatures of the North Pacific Ocean, it’s worth investigating Porlock Bay.

It provides some shelter from the impressive tidal range of our coastline, which can be dangerous for paddleboarders, combining an exciting vista out to the sea with a dramatic backdrop of rocky cliffs. 

Exmoor Adventures, based in Porlock Weir, offers a range of paddleboarding experiences starting with a taster session. There is also a tandem and an eight-man Mega SUP to hire, and a five-hour course to provide you with SUP Level 1 Skills.

For those with some experience of paddleboarding, there’s an opportunity to explore the unique salt marshland at Porlock Bay with a guided tour. This important coastal wildlife area is made even more special by the fact it is only possible to paddle on spring tides when the marsh floods. Check timings first with Exmoor Adventures.

Taunton to Bridgwater Canal

Look out for World War Two pillboxes and tank traps along the canal,

Look out for World War Two pillboxes and tank traps along the canal - Credit: Somerset Adventures

The canal opened in 1827, linking the River Tone to the River Parrett. Being 14.5 miles in length, the calm water and sheltered nature of this waterway make it an ideal environment for paddleboarding.

Much of the canal has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its populations of rare birds and plants so there is plenty to see from the board.

In contrast to the wildlife, you can also look out for World War Two pillboxes and tank traps along the canal, remnants of the GHQ Line designed to restrict Hitler’s movements in the case of UK invasion. 

There are different organisations, such as Somerset Adventures, which can provide bespoke guided tours or lessons. If you decide to go paddleboarding on your own, bear in mind that most waterways require you to have a license. You can check this and book a short-term license via the Canal & River Trust.  

For more great ideas for things to do in Somerset click here