May 04, 2022 12 min read

Paddle Boarding The UK: The Ultimate Guide

People on whitby beach

Coastlines, rivers, and open lakes; the British Isles offer diverse waters that are perfect to be explored by paddle board! Take a SUP out at some of the UK’s most incredible and breathtaking destinations for an alternative viewpoint. Paddle boarding in the UK is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason!

From paddle-pub-cruises to amazing offshore adventures, paddle boarding in the UK is not short of fun and excitement! 

Rental centers, SUP lessons, and guided tours are appearing all over the country. So, not only can you discover the impressive British coastline, but you can also explore lakes, rivers, and canals that connect the nation. Paddle boarding in the UK offers a truly unique experience for stand up paddle boarders.

England SUP Locations

England’s landscape is rich and diverse. From the iconic Thames River coursing through London to St. Michael’s Mount in the Cornish Sea, finding somewhere to take a SUP could not be easier! 

Ullswater, Lake District

Yacht on ullswater lake

The Lake District region is a popular place for outdoor enthusiasts to get their kicks. Hiking through the mountain ranges is loved by many and offers spectacular views across the Fells of Cumbria. 

There are 21 lakes in total across the Lake District, some more famous than others. Places such as Windermere and Bassenthwaite Lake are iconic of the Lakes. However, for paddle boarding, nowhere beats the second largest lake, Ullswater.

Ullswater has a big lake feel to it and is a good place for downwind paddle boarders. Ullswater Paddle Boarding is located right on the lake and offers fantastic tours, lessons, and SUP equipment rental.

Coniston Water, Cumbria

Coniston water, english lake district

Coniston Water is another breathtaking destination in the Lake District that is perfect for picturesque paddle boarding moments. This sheltered lake has the perfect backdrop to a day spent on a SUP, especially with your dog on board.

Check out Coniston Boating Centre for reliable and good-quality SUP rentals if you don’t have your own equipment yet.

River Cam, Cambridge

River cam near Kings College in the city of cambridge

If you’re a bit of a history buff, then the River Cam is a spot for you to check out. This calm river flows through the heart of Cambridge, giving you an alternative view of the historic city. 

Take your own SUP and join the punters out on the water. You can launch from Jesus Lock (at Jesus Green) and head west, you’ll pass Magdalene, St John’s and Trinity, as well as King’s, Queen’s and St Catharine’s college before you drift beneath the beautiful and iconic Mathematical Bridge.

Burgh Island, Devon

Big white building on Burgh island in Devonshire coast

Burgh Island is a tidal piece of paradise nestled on the Devonshire coast of England. The dramatic cliffside and Art Deco hotel are even the inspiration for two Agatha Christie novels.

You can navigate around the entire island and paddle into all the nooks, crannies, and caves along the journey. Only head out when conditions are suitable and within your paddle capabilities.

Woolacombe Sands, Devon

Woolacombe sand wide and expansive sandy beach

Woolacombe Sands is a popular holiday destination and a firm favorite among surfers. The wide and expansive sandy beach is safe for beginners to give SUP surfing a go (on the smaller swell days). On calm and flat summer days, this spot is perfect for exploring the North Devon coastline and discovering wildlife in the nearby caves. 

Check out Woolacombe Surf Centre for SUP rentals, perfect for a family day out on the beach!

Penzance, Cornwall

Penzance cornwall

Penzance is one of the most beautiful destinations in England. The bay is naturally protected from wind and swell, so the waters are generally calm and inviting. In the summer months, you can jump into the ocean without a wetsuit on and completely enjoy being outdoors. 

Head over to The Hoxton Special and join one of their SUP and picnic tours around St. Michael’s Mount, Porthcurno, and the surrounding bay. This is a definite must-do for anyone vacationing in this southern paradise! 

St Agnes, Cornwall

St agnes cornwall north coast

St Agnes (or Aggie as it's affectionately known) is in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located on Cornwall’s north coast. Expect breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and a quaint traditional atmosphere when visiting. 

SUP in a Bag offers fantastic guided tours with experienced locals, so you can discover the best of the St Agnes region. They can also help organize a full SUP holiday for couples, families, and solo travelers. You’ll stay in waterfront accommodations, so you can paddle from dusk to dawn.

Symonds Yat, Wye Valley

Symonds yat on the river wye Herefordshire

Symonds Yat is a quaint village on the River Wye in rural Herefordshire. This section of the River Wye is suitable for beginner paddle boarders to glide through nature, all the while mastering the basics of paddle boarding

The best place to launch is from ​​Kerne Bridge. From here, more experienced riders can head downstream to take on Grade 2 rapids for more of a challenge. And if you’ve got the stamina for a different kind of challenge, take on the 13-mile paddle upstream to reach Ross-on-Wye, another picturesque English village.

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Paddle boarders on Cuckmere haven

Chuckmere Haven is one of the most relaxing and peaceful places to paddleboard in the UK. This waterway is cut off from the ocean, even though it meanders right up to the coast, so there are no tides or currents to think about. 

Start your paddle from the oxbow lakes. You’ll need to carry your SUP through some shallow waters to reach the main waterway, this is where inflatable paddle boards are amazing! From here, you can paddle down to the pebble beach. It’s best done at sunset for the best views and sky colors!

Brighton, East Sussex

Kayaker near an amusement park

Brighton is one of Britain’s most loved seaside resorts. Besides the warm and welcoming community, Brighton has some great paddle boarding routes within easy reach from the city center:

  • West Pier to Palace Pier
  • Palace Pier to Marina - great for beginners without the pier loop
  • Southwick to the Marina
  • River Adur to Kings Head

All of these routes are tidal and exposed to wind, so it’s best to have nailed the basics before tackling. Always be sure to check weather conditions before setting off!

Kingston upon Thames, London

boats and yacht on kingston upon thames in london

The Thames is one of the most iconic rivers in Britain, carving an impressive 345km across the country and right through the heart of the capital. One of the best places to launch your SUP from is Kingston upon Thames, a suburb of the city. From here you can see some of London’s best landmarks and discover a new side to this cosmopolitan city!

If you are in need of a rental or fancy joining a group for a dawn patrol paddle, check out Active360 Richmond. This SUP school is located right on the water and offers a wide range of sessions to suit every level of paddler.

West Cliff Beach, Whitby

Colorful beach huts in west cliff beach, Whitby

West Cliff Beach is the ultimate ‘day-out-to-the-seaside’ destination. From donkey rides and colorful beach huts to deck chairs and sandcastles, you’re guaranteed a great day out. 

The flat sandy beach stretches for over 2-miles and provides gentle and easy paddle boarding. With plenty of space this spot is perfectly suited to beginners wanting to learn the basics.

Hickling Broad, Norfolk

Nature reserve of Hickling broad and Marshes

Hickling Broad and Marshes are some of the best kept secrets in Britain. These waters are part of a Nature Reserve and are teeming with incredible wildlife and quaint cottages. Believe us when we say this is perfect for a remote SUP expedition! 

This spot is safe for every level of paddle boarder. First-timers are recommended to book on to a lesson or join a guided tour to start with. 

Grand Union Canal

Housing near the grand union canal

England’s Grand Union Canal starts in London and ends in Birmingham, stretching for 137 miles (220 km). You can enjoy a peaceful paddle while sharing the waters with canal boats and walkers on the footpaths. There are multiple launch sites along the canal, Wilton Locks near Northampton a good option, or you can link up several to create an epic multi-day tour. 

Using an inflatable paddle board to explore the canal is recommended. You may have to hop out of the water at locks (junctions on the waterway to adjust water levels for boats) and relaunch on the other side – this will be easier with a lightweight iSUP

Scotland SUP Locations

Head north and cross the border into Scotland. You’ll be greeted by insane landscapes of the Highlands and some of the best places to paddleboard in the UK.

The River Tay, Perthshire

Autumn leaves near the river tay

The River Tay is Scotland’s longest river. Paddle alongside mountains and discover the raw beauty of the River Tay, Perthshire Scotland. This is the place to head to if you are a keen white water SUP lover.

Experienced riders can head to the fast waters and standing waves between Stanley to Thistlebrig. Beginners should opt for the calmer waters that sweep past Tay Forest Park between Ballinluig village and the historic town of Dunkeld. Paddle Surf Scotland is a fantastic watersports specialist in the area that offers lessons, rental, and even SUP yoga classes. 

Loch Tay, Perthshire

Gorgeous scenery of Loch Tay, Perthshire

Loch Tay offers gorgeous scenery in every direction you look. Grab a SUP and get out on the water to be completely surrounded by natural beauty. Make sure you pack your waterproof camera for this trip, you’re going to want to capture the mountain backdrop for your memory books! 

Taking a paddle board out on the Loch is a perfect way to spend a warm summer’s day with the family. You can rent equipment from nearby. Some places even stock multi-person SUPs that are designed to carry eight or more people!

Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands

A duck and a yacht on Loch Ness in Scottish Highlands

One of the most famous destinations in Scotland is Loch Ness, and without a doubt, this is a must-visit spot for outdoor lovers. Bring your SUP and paddle over the same waters that are fabled to hide away the Nessie Monster – don’t worry, she’s friendly!

Check out Explore Highland to rent gear or join one of the guided SUP tours on offer. The local team will give you in-depth knowledge of the area and make your experience memorable.

North Coast 500, Scotland

Kylesku bridge in North Coast 500

Over recent years, Scotland’s NC500 coast road has gained a lot of popularity for road trippers. Make sure you pack your iSUP in the back of the van so you can stop off along the way and take to the water. 

You’ll discover uninhabited gems the further north you head through Scotland, white sandy beaches, and even some hidden waves, so you can try your paddle at SUP surfing. Be sure to check local tide times and currents before setting off on your board.

Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

Crystal clear water of Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

If you’re looking for somewhere magical to paddle board, go to Glencoe in the Highlands. The crystal clear waters reflect the surrounding landscape, giving you one of the best experiences for UK paddle boarding. The rugged scenery is perfect for a wild escape.

Wales SUP Locations

Head to the mountains in the West and stumble across Wales, another beautiful corner of the UK. Here, you’ll discover incredible paddle boarding locations, friendly locals, and diverse wildlife, including wild ponies!

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire National Park Coastline

Pembrokeshire’s National Park coastline is spectacular. Expect to see limestone cliffs, sandy bays, and crystalline waters, simply magical when seen from a SUP!

One of the best routes to paddle in the area is from Stackpole Quay to Barafundle Bay. The scenery, caves, and marine life along this stretch of coastline are incredible. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, porpoises, and even basking sharks.

Outer Reef Surf School is based in Pembrokeshire and provides expert tuition for stand up paddle boarding. Choose between a lesson on a safe sandy beach or a session that takes you around the beautiful coastline.   

Mawddach Estuary, Snowdonia

Hotel on a mountain near Barmouth mawddach estuary

Paddle where the mountains meet the sea and fall in love with the beauty of mid-Wales. The Mawddach Estuary is overlooked by the peaks of Snowdonia and fringed by forested hillsides.

Check out SUP Barmouth for paddle board lessons that explore the local area, or join one of their quirky tours for something truly memorable. The Pub to Pub Mawddach SUP Cruise is a one-way paddle with return transport included, so you can enjoy a pint along the way. The three-hour high tode tour runs between the George III at Penmaenpool and The Last Inn in Barmouth, perfect for those ideal vacation vibes.

Black Rock Sands, Porthmadog

Sandy beach of Black rock sands beach

Black Rock Sands is a wide and sandy beach just outside of Morfa Bychan, near the popular Porthmadog in North Wales. There are plenty of rock pools, caves, and impressive cliffs that are ideal to explore by stand up paddle board. 

You can drive directly onto the beach here, set up camp for the day by the sand dunes, and make the most of the quiet beach. Be sure to check the swell forecasts. The beach is fairly exposed and picks up a consistent groundswell; some days this is best left to the more experienced paddle boarder.

Cardiff Bay

Brown building beside a ferris wheel on Cardiff bay

See the Welsh capital from a different perspective! Cardiff Bay is a hip and trendy part of the city and has a beautiful marina that is wonderful to paddle board. However, make sure to only launch from Cardiff Harbour Authority approved sites along the water. 

While you’re here, check out the Cardiff International White Water Centre (CIWW). Here you can give whitewater rafting and kayaking a try, or even catch a wave on the indoor simulation machine.

Bala Lake, Snowdonia

Crystal clear water of Bala Lake

Bala Lake is mesmerizing. It is the largest natural lake in Wales covering four miles in length and a mile wide. The crystal clear waters are beautiful and inviting while also being full of local legend. 

If you have your own SUP equipment, don’t forget to get a lake permit from the Lake Warden's Centre before you launch. If you are taking a lesson with a recognized operator then this will already be covered. 

Northern Ireland SUP Locations

Just a stone’s throw away, over the Irish Sea, is Ireland. This land is fuelled by magic, folklore, and some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the UK.

Strangford Lough, County Down

Man paddle boarding with his dog  on Strangford lough

Located in Northern Island, Strangford Lough is the perfect place for adventurers to explore remote islands and discover an untouched realm. Strangford Lough is the UK’s largest inlet, made up of a maze of channels carving out over 70 islands. 

Killyleagh, in the southwest corner, is a great spot to paddle if you have your own SUP gear. From here you can reach incredible places including Salt Island Bothy and Daft Eddies restaurant on Sketrick Island.

Southern Island Paddle Boarding Gems

Not strictly the UK, but these places are so good we couldn’t miss them out! While you’re visiting NI, you may as well hop down into the Republic of Ireland with your SUP and check out these incredible places:

  • Caragh Lake, Kerry
  • Killary Harbour, Galway
  • Royal Canal, Kildare

Best Guided Paddle Board Adventures In The UK

Paddle boarding in the UK is becoming more and more popular. With that comes some ingenious adventures up for grabs for those who want all the hassle of vacationing sorted for them. 

Here are some of the finest guided paddle board adventures in the UK to date:

  • Gin and Paddle, in connection with Daffy Gin in the Scottish Highlands
  • Girls Only Paddle Retreats with Gutsy Girls, offering holidays and retreats across the UK (and Europe) for women only
  • Yacht and Paddle with The Watersports Academy based in Dorset on the Jurassic Coast
  • SUP the North Channel with SUP Hub NI, an epic challenge for the bravest of paddlers

UK Laws And Regulations Around Paddle Boarding

Some waters across England and Wales require a waterway license or permit which enables you to enjoy your paddle board out on the water. Over 5,000 km of rivers and canals are managed by various organizations and authorities. Permit fees go towards the maintenance of river banks and launch points, monitoring native species, and keeping the water quality clean.

Most oceans, estuaries, and tidal waterways do not require permits. However, do check if there are any license requirements where you plan to paddle.

Licenses are often included within group paddling membership, like with British Canoeing (which also covers stand up paddle boarding). 

Scotland is slightly different. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, Scotland has what is called the ‘right to roam’. This means you don’t need a license to paddle the waters in Scotland.

Interactive Map

FAQ’S

🏆 Where can I go paddle boarding in the UK?

There are many lakes, estuaries, rivers, and coastal stretches that are perfect for stand up paddle boarding in the UK. Ullswater in the Lake District is a popular and highly recommended location for a SUP trip – the views will blow your mind! Otherwise, the River Tay (Perthshire, Scotland) is another incredible place to go paddle boarding in the UK.


👍 Where is the best place for beginners to paddle board in the UK?

Woolacombe Sands in Devon and West Cliff Beach in Whitby are two fantastic places for beginners to get paddle boarding in the UK oceans. However, you can find SUP schools all across the country on lakes and reservoirs offering taster sessions and lessons for first-timers. Beginners should avoid fast-moving rivers and tidal spots.


🏝️ Do you need a permit to paddle board the UK?

Not all waters across the UK require a permit. However, there are 5,000 km of canals and rivers that do. The permit fees support the maintenance of the waterway in many aspects. Always do your research when planning a SUP getaway trip! 


❓ Can I paddle board on any river in the UK?

There are many rivers in the UK that are open and suitable for paddle boarding. However, you may be required to obtain a permit depending on where you choose to paddle. One of the best rivers in the UK for paddle boarding is the Wye River where you’ll find something for every experience level.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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