SUPing the Thames
Putney, one of the leafier parts of London, sits on a picturesque stretch of the River Themes. The banks are lined with trees and rowing clubs – its more famous and industrial banks seem a world away.
This genteel part of the UK’s most famous river is where I had my first experience of stand up paddle boarding on the Thames.
After a few SUP lessons on the Grand Union Canal in Paddington, I was looking forward to trying out my skills on the Thames. I mean how different could it be?
SUPing on the river is a very different beast to the canal. I’d been told that the currents are strong, but you never really appreciate how strong until you’re on the water fighting against it, or when you are just being carried calmly along and can appreciate your surroundings, and enjoying the golden evening light dancing on the water.
The slow and quietness of SUPing is the best way to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most iconic rivers. You see more and understand the river better on a paddle board than you do on a boat. It’s also a great workout for those core muscles – who needs to go to the gym when you can paddle on the river. Plus, there are plenty of riverside pubs for a post paddle pint.
For my introduction to stand up paddle boarding on the Thames, joined a group, who in conjunction ion with the Port of London Authority, are doing the Thames Stand up paddle board Skills (TSK) course. Anyone who has passed the TSK has authority to paddle on the Thames alone.
Most of the group were made up of avid SUPers keen to get out there on their own. There were two girls, named Mel and Michelle, who are partaking in the course to get up to speed to do a 215 mile stand up paddle board trip from the source of the Thames in Thames Head to Southend where the Thames meets the sea. They plan to do it in 10 days and raise money for Tree Aid and take water samples for Citizen Scientist and Thames 21. If you want to know more about their challenge or donate please click here.
If you want to sign up for the TSK and improve your SUPing skills click here.
Want to try out paddling on the Thames? Find out more about lessons here.