• Water sports

Best places to paddleboard in the South West

By Lisa Drewe

Published on 6 min read

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OS Champion and author of ‘Paddleboarding South West England’, Lisa Drewe, reveals her favourite places to paddleboard in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset.


From the jade lagoon pools of the Trescore Islands and remote riverside pubs of the Dart to a wildlife rich Exmoor Lake, historic canal routes and going free-range in one of the largest natural harbours in the world, we hope you find inspiration for your next paddleboard in the South West.

1. Portcothan to Trescore Islands

Cornwall

Trescore Islands

Trescore Islands

Just a short trip (1.4km return paddle route) from Pothcothan’s long and popular beach, the blue-green waters sheltered by this tiny rocky archipelago feel more like the Mermaid’s Lagoon from Peter Pan than the north coast of Cornwall. Gliding above the kelp forests here is simply spellbinding. Set out from the bay on an ebbing tide and head south to discover Porthcothan’s iconic rocks and tiny islets. A favourite spot in the lagoon is the sandy-bottomed area off the northeast tip of the ‘middle’ island where, close to a sharp drop off, a myriad of marine life flourishes within the tall, swaying seaweed forest.

2. Stoke Gabriel to Bow Creek

Devon

Stoke Gabriel paddleboard 

Stoke Gabriel

A 8.5km return paddle from Stoke Gabriel along the River Dart to Bow Creek to visit its two hidden riverside inns. Leave from Stoke Gabriel Quay and paddle along the River Dart, where there’s plenty of stops on its shaded river-beaches. Turn into beautiful Bow Creek, full of wildlife, to find The Maltsters Arms at Tuckenhay – an atmospheric, 18th century renowned for its succulent local mussels. At high tide continue to Bow Bridge at Ashprington to the historic Waterman Inn, once a brewhouse and haunt of press gangs, where a pint on the riverside terrace is worth the extra 0.5 km paddle. 

3. Langport to Muchelney

River Parrett, Somerset

paddleboard on River Parrett

Paddleboarding on the River Parrett

Enjoy the open spaces and rolling countryside of the Somerset Levels on this classic 5.5km return River Parrett paddle. Start in the ancient market town of Langport, head upstream and gaze over the river’s banks and take in the fantastic views. Spot the church tower and Mulchelney Abbey and, to visit the abbey, exit the river after Westover Bridge to wander around the romantic ruins and the thatched monks’ lavatory – the only one of its kind in Britain. There’s a great bakery at Great Bow Bridge to treat yourself on your return.

4. Lee Bay

Devon

Paddling on Lee Bay

Paddling on Lee Bay

A beautiful bay hugged by soaring cliffs with numerous rock gullies and secluded coves for family adventures. Located between busy Ilfracombe and Woolacombe and once a haunt of smugglers, Lee Bay is tucked away at the end of a deep, wooded coombe dotted with picturesque stone cottages. Launch from the small sand beach that’s exposed at low tide to explore Outer Appledore Rocks and Sandy Cove, or visit the otherwise inaccessible and sandy Broadoar Bay. Take snorkelling gear and on higher tides float over the rock shelves and look out for the wafting fingers of gem, beadlet, and snakelock anemones. Local beer in the village’s old, wood-beamed inn.

5. Pewsey Wharf to Honeystreet

Wiltshire

Kennet and Avon Canal

Kennet and Avon Canal

A tranquil 13km return Kennet and Avon Canal paddle, through the Pewsey Vale’s beautiful rolling countryside with views of a white horse, and a visit to a crop-circle hotspot and historic canalside inn. Head west from historic Pewsey Wharf past rows of colourful moored barges through beautiful yew and holly woods, under a couple of ornate bridges, on this little-visited stretch of the canal. Reach Honeystreet, a crop circlers dream with an exhibition and excellent café plus a canal side pub with views of the Alton Barnes White Horse – inside you can gaze up at the aliens and crop circles painted on the bar ceiling.

6. Wimbleball Lake

Somerset

 Paddleboarding on Wimbleball Lake

Paddleboarding on Wimbleball Lake

Surrounded by the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, this beautifully situated reservoir offers plenty of opportunities for exploring. Wimbleball Lake is a wildlife hotspot, with wildfowl, Exmoor red deer grazing on the lakeside, and a very special butterfly -the small pearl-bordered fritillary. Apart from wildlife watching, the Activity Centre offers tuition and equipment hire, or you can launch your own craft. There is also a network of paths and cycleways around the lake. Wimbleball is part of Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve with telescopes for hire. Stay at the campsite here experience the amazing starry skies of Exmoor.

7. Bramblebush Bay and Islands

Dorset

Bramblebush Bay 

Bramblebush Bay

Paddle in an extraordinarily beautiful location and explore three lesser-known islands of Poole Harbour, a world away from the bustle of its north shore. Launch from the northeast side of Bramblebush Bay, and paddle in a beautiful 9km loop to explore Studland Heath nature reserve and the large, shallow Brand’s Bay which drains and fills quickly with turning tides. Paddle towards small marshy, Drove Island, alongside the dense coniferous woods of the peninsula to Goathorn Point. Enter the waters of South Deep to paddle around Green Island, the third largest in Poole Harbour, then cross the channel to pine-clad Furzey Island, just off the south-coast of its famous neighbour Brownsea Island.


OS Champion, Lisa Drew, is author of Paddleboarding South West England – 100 Places to SUP, Canoe and Kayak, published by Wild Things Publishing priced £18.99. Here you can find 93 more great locations in the South West to get out on the water.

Paddleboarding South West England – 100 Places to SUP, Canoe and Kayak,

Paddleboarding South West England – 100 Places to SUP, Canoe and Kayak, available from bookshops.

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By Lisa Drewe

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