After a long week spent glued to my laptop, I finally decided enough was enough. I was more than ready for a day of escapism…a day on the water!
I suddenly realised that although I’m frequently out on the water, it is either an instructor, or with my daughter. I love teaching SUP, especially the moment when newbies get to their feet for the first time. Likewise, paddling with my daughter is also great fun. She is happy out on any body of water, from rivers to estuaries, to the sea – she does tend to have two speeds though…flat-out race-pace paddling or stop :-) this means long leisurely paddles are generally out of the question. We either race, or we play SUPgames. Opportunities to paddle on my own are getting few and far between!
Location Location Location
I am never away from the coast for more than a couple of weeks, but am currently inland. Having already established that it was not particularly practical to paddle on the heavily swollen River Severn (one-way trip, no chance of paddling back upstream to my car!!) I was forced to look at the alternative that I usually avoid at all cost. The Canal.
I have never been keen on canals, even when I used to kayak. I find flatwater with no current, very disorientating – my legs and core are waiting to automatically respond to board movement…but it just doesn’t move!
Destination for the day, was on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Wolverley (Worcs). Reality – it’s not too far away (about 40min drive) and I think I can find it without getting lost! I’m a mum, it’s Tuesday, ‘After-School Science Club’ day, so I have until 4.30pm!!
Advantages: Excellent free parking facilities right next to the canal. Tea Rooms and the well known and very delightful Lock Pub. Very pretty section of the canal, whichever direction you paddle.
Disadvantages: It’s a canal. It’s 3c. I miss the sea
Fanatic Pro Carbon paddle…always. Love it! Having the choice of the 9 boards currently residing in my garage, for some odd reason I opted for my little AllWave! Not sure why because a longer board is always less work on flat water than a surfSUP. Probably force of habit, or because it looks pretty (I am female haha).
What to wear
Always a dilemma for me this one. When I am on the sea, and liable to get wet – always a decent wetsuit. But inland SUP is different. Opted for my 3:2 Summer Steamer but wore my hoodie over the top until I warmed up. Once paddling, I find I never need gloves, but this time of year wetsuit booties are a must. I always carry my running rucksack, which when not teaching contains:
- neoprene gloves
- a bottle of water
- my phone
- role of duct-tape…
It always crosses my mind, if I lost that rucksack what the finder would think – an odd collection of items!!
Setting out from the pub, I had a great few hours paddling, covering about 7-8miles. Had to portage for a couple of locks – no big deal. Few tunnels to negotiate – never very keen on those!! But I won’t admit that after paddling for what seemed like miles, and wondering why I hadn’t yet reached the town of Kidderminster, I twigged that I was in fact heading in completely the wrong direction!!
Met some really friendly people along the way, who were clearly bemused at the presence of a small blonde woman, with a paddle, in the middle of the canal, in January, on what is essentially an oversized surfboard.
I even had a long conversation with an angler! I am usually very wary of the angling community – apparently when you shout “good morning” at them, it scares the fish. And being a tad short-sited I struggle to see their line and floaty thing, until the last minute…emergency stops and kick-turns to avoid line, also ‘scares the fish’. I think the rivers and canals of the UK must be filled with particularly neurotic aquatic species!!
I always find the narrowboat community particularly friendly folk though. They seem to accept that we all have a right to enjoy the water, and always seem to find time for a chat!
All in all a good day of SUP. And back in time to collect Sian from school (although the other parents at the school gate did seem a little wary of my wetsuit clad appearance).