Updated: Aug 31, 2019
As a fitness professional I'm always looking for new ways to liven up my exercise regime and last year I discovered stand up paddle boarding. It's quickly become one of my favourite activities.
Stand up paddle boarding, or SUPing as it's also known, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK and it's easy to see why. Not only is it a wonderful way to explore our coastline and waterways, it has many health benefits too.
Obviously it's a great exercise for the core but the rest of the body works hard during a SUP session. Paddling challenges the arms, shoulders and back while the muscles of the lower body are engaged to maintain balance and stability. If you put in sufficient effort you can get a serious cardio workout and it's all low impact.
There are benefits for mental health too. Just being outside can have a positive effect on mood and wellbeing. Researchers are also beginning to understand the additional benefits of exercising in or on the water.
With its spectacular coastline, reservoirs, rivers and creeks, Cornwall is a great place to paddle. Here's a selection of some of our favourite spots.
If you only paddle in one place, make sure it's this iconic location. We like to park at the Station car park in Marazion where it's just a short walk onto the beach. From here you can easily paddle to St Michael's Mount and, if the tide's in, you can go all the way around.
There are a couple of options for launching in Penzance. The Abbey Slip provides easy access to the calm waters of Penzance Harbour although you need to time it right to make sure there's enough water to get back. Drop your gear off and then park in the nearby Harbour car park.
Further along, Wherrytown is another good spot. It's just a short walk over the Promenade to reach the beach. You can head towards Penzance and the Jubilee Pool in one direction or towards Newlyn in the other. If you're feeling adventurous and have plenty of time it's possible to go to Mousehole.
This is the closest launching spot to Middle Colenso Farm. There's a bit of a walk from the car park to the beach but it's perfectly manageable. You can stay around Perranuthnoe or paddle around Cudden Point to gorgeous Prussia Cove.
An excellent paddling spot. Easy launching on North Quay from where you can head into the calm conditions of the harbour or out into St Ives Bay for more of a challenge.
The crystal clear waters around Porthcurno make this one of our favourite SUP spots. There's a bit of a carry to the beach but it's well worth the effort. From here you can paddle to the spectacular Pedn Vounder beach or carry on to the picturesque fishing village of Penberth.
This is a fantastic base for exploring nearby St Ives. The car park is next to the beach but it is expensive - £10 a day. If you're only planning on being out for an hour or two it's worth dropping your board off at the beach and driving to the car park further up the hill.
A little further away, on the east side of The Lizard, Porthallow is one of the easiest spots to launch as the car park is right on the beach. There are lots of little coves to explore in either direction and it's a great location for spotting seals and other wildlife.
It may be a bit of a drive but this is another stunning SUP spot. It's best to drop your boards off at the beach, where there's a £4 fee to launch, and then drive back up the hill to the car park.
There are several possible routes. If you paddle towards the mouth of the river you'll pass Trebah and Glendurgan gardens on your left. The beach at Durgan is a good place to rest. There's a National Trust shop where you can buy a cup of coffee and an ice cream.
If you cross the river you'll find yourself at the picturesque village of Helford and further up you can access Frenchman's Creek, made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her novel of the same name.
The parking at this waterspouts centre costs just £3 and is almost right on the beach. You can head out into Carrick Roads and down to Mylor or in the other direction towards Trelissick.
The river Fowey is one of our favourite spots. You can park and launch easily at Caffa Mill car park opposite Daphne du Maurier's house, Ferryside. From there you have the option of paddling up river towards Golant and Lostwithiel or towards the mouth of the river and out into the sea. If you're feeling up for a challenge you could go all the way to Polkerris which itself is a lovely paddling location.
Hiring boards and SUP lessons
If you don't have your own board or want to try SUP for the first time there are several places within a few miles of the cottage where you can rent a board or take a lesson.
Before we bought our own boards Chris and I hired some from https://thehoxtonspecial.com in Mount's Bay.