The UK's most spectacular places to stand-up paddleboard

Adventurer Lizzie Carr paddled 650km around Britain's waterways as part of her campaign against plastic pollution. She reveals her top places to stand-up paddleboard in the UK...

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1: Wast Water, Cumbria

Wast Water (Shutterstock)

Wast Water (Shutterstock)

Start/ finish: Northeast corner of Wast Water

Distance: 10km round trip

The Lake District is undeniably one of Britain’s most mesmerising national parks, but with flocks of visitors to the area, finding a wilderness escape seems a rare opportunity to come by. But swap the rolling hills of Windermere for some of Britain’s giant peaks and adventurers will find a lake to themselves, with a tumbling hillside surrounding. Once in the depths of Wast Water, you’re open to explore at your own free will and pace. The lake is open end-to-end to paddleboarders, but be sure to disembark at the north beach to take a short walk to St Olaf – one of England’s smallest churches – before paddling back to the start.

Hire and lessons: Equipment is available for hire at Lake District Paddleboarding, as well as guided tours and lessons on Wast Water lake.

2: Kingston upon Thames, London

Paddleboard along the River Thames (Shutterstock)

Paddleboard along the River Thames (Shutterstock)

Start/ finish: Kingston Quay

Distance: 15km return

The River Thames is Britain’s most iconic waterway, extending a mighty 345km from Gloucestershire to Essex. But with so many spots to choose from, the stretch between Kingston and Richmond is favoured for its wealth of cultural landmarks and nature encounters on the outskirts of London. It’s a convenient getaway for city-goers in need of a day out on the water, taking in plenty of greenery and wildlife – look out for grey herons, swans and kingfishers en route. Upon your arrival in Richmond, refuel at one of the numerous eateries dotted parallel to the river, before cruising your way back to Kingston.

Hire and lessons: Richmond-based Back of Beyond offer SUP and kayak lessons, as well as wild camps and social events.

3: Penzance, Cornwall

St Michael's Mount off the coast of Penzance (Shutterstock)

St Michael's Mount off the coast of Penzance (Shutterstock)

Start/ finish: Mount’s Bay

Distance: 8km round trip

Journey down to the south coast of Cornwall for a wildlife-rich sea safari. Paddle out from the long swathes of sand at Marazion Beach with a view of St Michael’s Mount on the horizon; this is where you’ll be heading. Continue over the glass-clear waters of Mount’s Bay, keeping an eye out for sea life on the way. Jellyfish and starfish are among the most common species to inhabit the shores, as well as the occasional seal bobbing in the waves, while dolphins and basking sharks are known to show their fins further afield during summer through to autumn. Be sure to approach St Michael’s Mount to the south end, avoiding any possible collision with the walkway that connects it to mainland at low tide, before circling back to shore.

Hire and lessons: Ocean High have stand-up paddleboards available to rent and can be found on Marazion Beach by Follyfield car park during the summer season.

4: Loch Harport, Isle of Skye

Loch Harport (Shutterstock)

Loch Harport (Shutterstock)

Start/ finish: Black Rock Sands car park

Distance: 11.5km return

Straddled by layers of Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, Loch Harport is one of the ultimate Scottish wilderness escapes and a must-visit for SUP enthusiasts. Though there is no set route to explore the loch, it is easily accessible from Carbost pontoon and naturally leads south to the shoreline. Not that a sense of direction really matters when you’re surrounded by snow-capped peaks and paddling carefree on the waters. When you’ve run out of paddle power, head to Talisker Distillery, which is conveniently located by the starting pontoon, and warm up with a malt whisky or two.

Hire and lessons: No hire company services this stretch of coastline, so you’ll need to bring your own equipment.

5: Black Rock Sands, Gwynedd

Paddleboarders near Portmeirion, North Wales (Shutterstock)

Paddleboarders near Portmeirion, North Wales (Shutterstock)

Start/ finish: Jetty northwest of Talisker Distillery car park

Distance: 7km round trip

Launch from the shores of Black Rock Sands heading east with the Snowdonian mountain range stooped in the distance. Take in the pastel-shaded town of Borth-y-Gest on the left, before bearing right at the headland in the estuary to where the true hidden gem of this journey lies. Named Wales’ ‘Little Italy’, Portmeirion is a techni-colour village of stacked hillside buildings, echoing significant resemblance of coastal towns on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Paddleboarders can find a spot to pull over and explore this enchanting attraction, or admire its beauty from a distance with a pit stop at Ynys Gifftan island further downriver, before looping back towards Black Rock Sands.

Hire and lessons: Guided tours of the waters around the island are available through Explore Highland, while sea kayaking trips are available with Sea to Skye Experience.

Adventurer and environmentalist Lizzie Carr paddled 400 miles around Britain's waterways, highlighting the UK's plastic pollution crisis with photos and water samples on her journey.

Paddling Britain: 50 best places to explore by S.U.P, kayak and canoe reveals some of the most spectacular lochs, rivers and seas to explore around the UK.

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