You see it on the sea, on rivers, lakes and now our canals too – people standing up on what look like giant surfboards, using a long paddle to propel themselves through the water. They are stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) – a leisure activity that’s really caught on in the UK in recent years. It’s particularly appealing for those who are new to water sports as it’s fun and easy to learn, especially on the calm, flat water of our canals.
Stand-up paddle boarding is also a lovely way to explore the Weaver Navigation – a 20-mile-long river that winds through the Cheshire countryside. For centuries, the river was used for the transportation of salt, which was discovered here in the Iron Age. Mining subsidence has left lakes, known as flashes, all along the waterway, where the salty water is home to coastal plants and a variety of wading birds including water rails, oystercatchers and curlews.
To get moving, why not try a taster session with the Mid Cheshire SUP, who also hire boards on their ‘paddle-outs’ every Thursday evening, led by an instructor? Mid Cheshire SUP is also the first paddle boarding club to adopt a stretch of waterway as part of the Canal & River Trust’s ‘Adopt-a-Canal’ scheme. They’ve formally adopted 1.8 miles of the river from Winsford Marina to Newbridge and carry out regular litter picks and wildlife surveys. So, once you’ve learned the ropes on your board, you can join the club and lend a hand – it’s a great way of meeting people and getting involved with the local community.
To find out about Mid Cheshire SUP’s taster sessions, paddle outs and litter picks, follow their Facebook page MidCheshSUP. Read more about the Trust’s Adopt a Canal campaign, to find out how you could join the 200+ groups who are caring for our waterways and becoming happier and healthier as a result.