6 of the best places in Dorset to try stand up paddleboarding

Old Harry Rocks on a calm day, ideal conditions for paddle boarding

Paddle boarding at Old Harry Rocks in excellent weather conditions, always check weather and tides before setting off - Credit: Susanne Masters

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) as a means to explore the quieter areas of Dorset’s coastal and river landscape is a match made in heaven. Keen Dorset paddleboarder Susanne Masters shares some of her favourite coast and river locations for you to enjoy.  

The rippling golden cliffs at West Bay on Dorset's Jurassic Coast

The rippling golden cliffs at West Bay on Dorset's Jurassic Coast, a stunning backdrop for an SUP adventure - Credit: ianwool/Getty Images/iStockphoto

West Bay: Glorious location with a backdrop of rippling golden cliffs. 

Studland Bay: Glide over the sea grass meadow this area is famous for and look down on this delicate habitat populated with fish (and seahorses). If sea and weather conditions are excellent, then paddle along the coastline to Old Harry Rocks. 

Paddling out to Old Harry Rocks on a day of excellent weather conditions

Paddling out to Old Harry Rocks on a day of excellent weather conditions and calm seas, a chance to see this landmark from a different angle - Credit: Susanne Masters

Old Iford Bridge, Christchurch: This is a good launch point for the River Stour and since no boats with engines are allowed upstream an ideal spot for getting used to paddling.  

Stand-up paddleboarding in Christchurch Harbour at sunset

Stand-up paddleboarding in Christchurch Harbour at sunset - Credit: Susanne Masters

Mayors Mead Car Park, Christchurch: If you are ready to handle wake from boats, this offers access to another stretch of the Stour, and also access to Christchurch Harbour. 

Wimborne: Make use of the floating pontoon near Dreamboats for launching downstream of the B3073 on the north side of the Stour. 

Wareham, River Frome: Use the canoe launch and head upstream or downstream for views of meadows and reed beds. 

Paddleboarding on the River Frome, Wareham, with reed beds towering above you

Smooth waters on the River Frome, Wareham, with reed beds towering above you - Credit: Susanne Masters

Prefer staying on dry land? Try these 6 Dorset walks that take you far from the madding crowds

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Get the book: Worth getting hold of is The Paddleboard Bible: The Complete Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding by Dave Price (published by Adlard Coles £18.99) . A fountain of SUP knowledge. Dave teaches SUP at Easyriders in Poole and is a local wildlife expert too. Exploring Poole Harbour on a SUP with Dave as your guide will increase your knowledge of birds and marine life and most likely introduce you to Poole Harbours’ resident seal, Sammy. 

The Paddleboard Bible written by Dorset paddleboarder Dave Price 

The Paddleboard Bible written by Dorset paddleboarder Dave Price - Credit: Adlard Coles

Book an SUP session: SUP sessions at EasyRiders include: 2-hour SUP Sunday group sessions (£20), ideal for beginners and intermediates; SUP Ladies Night (Thursdays £15) and Adventure SUP, a paddleboarding session around Brownsea Island (from £35) which you need to be reasonably competent. You can also book one-to-one sessions or bespoke group sessions (ideal for stag, hen or birthday parties).

To book call 01202 744055 or visit easy-riders.co.uk

Andy Belcher and the Sandbanks Style team showing their SUP range

Andy Belcher and the Sandbanks Style team outside their shop showing their SUP board range - Credit: Sandbanks Style

Buy the Dorset made SUP paddleboard: Technology has played a significant role in increasing SUP's  popularity. Development of boards that are lighter to carry and inflatable - therefore portable because they don’t need a roof rack - makes it much easier to reach water with a board.  

While surfing takes an upfront investment in practice to catch waves, SUP is easy to pick up. On a first ride anyone can happily sit or kneel on a board and paddle. Progressing to balancing while standing up is rapid.  

Andy Belcher is the founder of the Lilliput-based paddleboard shop Sandbanks Style which he started seven years ago. Andy wanted to buy a board and discovered that there seemed to be two choices. Buy a good quality board from a famous brand for £850 or more. Or get a cheap board that wouldn’t work as well or last very long for about £300.  

Andy Belcher on the River Frome at Wareham, downstream from the quay

Sandbanks Style founder Andy Belcher on the River Frome at Wareham, downstream from the quay - Credit: Barbara Murphy

‘I felt it should be possible to make an inflatable paddleboard of the finest quality for about £500 and so I set out to prove it. We now sell 15,000-20,000 boards a year all over the UK. Our customers almost act like sales people too, making us one of the most recommended brands on the internet.’  

Having bought my own paddleboards last year from Sandbanks Style on the recommendation of a friend, and been out paddling on them with my mum and niece, its easy to see why this Dorset brand is doing so well in a booming market. 

Sandbanks Style publicity shot showing their SUP range in action on a river 

Sandbanks Style publicity shot showing their SUP range in action on a river - Credit: Sandbanks Style

Take safety seriously: Going out on the water, whether on the coast or river, requires common sense and safety checks. Here are the RNLI's expert tips on how to paddleboard and stay safe: 

- If you can, go with a friend 

- If paddling alone tell someone where you are going and when you will be back 

- Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set out, and make sure that your plans are adapted to conditions 

- Avoid paddling in offshore winds, they can quickly blow paddleboards far out to sea 

- Wear a personal floatation device 

- Wear suitable clothing for the time of year 

- Use an appropriate leash to connect you to your paddleboard. In flowing water such as rivers and estuaries a waist leash with quick release belt is easier to reach if you fall off your board and your leash is entangled 

Drifting downstream on the River Stour near Blandford

Drifting downstream on the River Stour near Blandford and keeping an eye out for kingfishers! - Credit: Susanne Masters

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