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Best places for stand up paddleboarding in the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean

Posted: Fri, 15th Mar 2024
Paddleboarding at Cotswold Country Park and Beach

Stand up paddleboarding, or SUP, is for everybody, and across the Cotswolds there are some amazing locations to try it for the first time with a lesson or launch your own board if you’re a bit more experienced. Exploring the lakes and rivers while floating gently along is always a relaxing experience, even if you may sometimes lose your footing and fall in, it’s all part of the fun! Take the family and hire some boards to spend some time together, learn a new sport and get a secret workout at one of these best places for stand up paddleboarding in the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean.

Cotswold Water Park is the ideal destination for water sports’ lovers and there is a wide choice of lessons and equipment available. This is the perfect choice for beginners as the lakes offer a gentler experience than a river. You can book a group lesson which is a great way to try it out, a one-to-one session for more personal pointers, or just hire the equipment and give it a go. There is a choice of places to go paddleboarding at Cotswold Water Park, after your session you can explore the rest of the park and try another water sport.

Cotswold Water Park Hire

Lake 86 is a fairly large lake giving you plenty of space to spread out and explore. With options for launching your own board, or hiring their equipment, it is a relaxed and friendly space to try paddleboarding out for the first time. You will also find the lake to be easier to navigate than a river would be. To launch your own board there are pay as you go and membership options, ideal if you’re staying in the area and want to make the most of it. They also have kayaks available so you can make a day of it.

Lake 32

At Lake 32 you can get to grips with paddleboarding with a one-hour introductory session at a very reasonable price. Including everything you need, board, paddle, buoyancy aid and a wetsuit, you’ll be exploring the lake in no time. You can also take your own boards and launch from here for a small fee. Being in the middle of Cotswold Water Park you are surrounded by other water sports opportunities and places to get lunch after spending time out on the board.

South Cerney Outdoor

With a wider range of activities available, South Cerney Outdoor is a hub for water sports. Private lessons are available for paddle boarding or you can book a taster session where you’ll be taught the essential skills. On site there are changing rooms, picnic areas and a café so you can have a break between getting out on the lake.

4 Lakes

At the southern side of Cotswold Water Park, 4 Lakes is a water ski school which also offers paddleboard and kayak hire. Bookings are priced per hour and if you have your own board, you can pay a reduced rate for self-launching. 4 Lakes offers a fun day out for the whole family and once you’ve had a workout on the boards, why not enjoy an inflatables ride? You’re guaranteed a quiet evening after the children have used up all their energy here, spending the day out on the lake and exploring the park.

Discover Paddling

With two locations, one at Gloucester Docks and one at Saul Junction Marina, Discover Paddling have a choice of experiences at both. At Saul Junction you meander along the canal, spotting wildlife as you go. With peaceful water you have time to enjoy the view and escape into the outdoors on what Discover Paddling call a countryside safari. At Gloucester Docks you can enjoy a new view of the area and it is a great central location to discover afterwards. If it isn’t your first time paddle boarding, you could book a private coaching session to improve your skills.

Cotswold Country Park and Beach

Have an unexpected day at the beach in the centre of the Cotswolds, near Cirencester. Once you have paid for entry to the park, you can spend the day swimming and lazing on the beach. Paddle board hire can also be booked in advance for a 30-minute session (main image by Kay Ransom Photography). Buoyancy aids are provided, but if it’s a colder day you might like to bring your own wetsuit. This is a good way to get a feel for the sport on your own, testing your balance out on the lake.

Paddle Boarding Adventures

In the Forest of Dean, Paddle Boarding Adventures have two locations, one of which is at Mallard Pike Lake where accessible and adaptable paddle board sessions are available. This includes those with physical or mental health needs. Your session will be tailored to you to ensure you get the most out of your booking. On the River Wye options include tours, beginner lessons, paddleboard yoga, social trips with pizza or a pint and even camping trips where you paddle to and from your destination.

Croft Farm Water Park

Alongside letting you launch your own board, Croft Farm Water Park near Tewkesbury provides a one-hour taster session with tuition. You start off on land before heading out into the water to get to grips with the board. If you’re feeling confident, paddle boards can be rented for up to a full day so you can take your time out on the lake.

Bear and Wolf

Bear + Wolf based at Cromhall Quarry in South Gloucestershire has everything you need to become a paddling pro. Start with the beginner session, then advance to the boost lesson to get the most out of your board. Once these skills have been mastered, book a Come and Play session to practise everything you’ve learnt. Finally, you can book a yoga class where your board becomes your yoga mat, really pushing the limits of your balance!

Original Wild

See picturesque Bath from a different perspective. Original Wild have a range of award-winning tours which include public groups, or private bookings. They also have some unique opportunities with a romantic paddleboard tour which includes chocolates and bubbly and a giant SUP session which holds up to 10 people! This is an unmissable paddle board experience.

What to pack for paddle boarding

No matter how good your balance, there’s a good chance that you’ll get wet when you go paddle boarding! Make sure you have swimwear and a wetsuit is ideal, but if you don’t have one, gym clothes that are quick drying are a good alternative. You can choose to wear water shoes, but a lot of people paddle barefoot. Make sure you have a towel and dry clothes to change into afterwards, and somewhere to keep all your wet gear. It’s also a good idea to have a bottle of water and some snacks with you as paddle boarding can be a bit of a workout!

  • Swimwear
  • Wetsuit
  • Quick-drying gym wear
  • Water shoes
  • Towel
  • Dry clothes
  • Wet bag
  • Bottle of water
  • Snacks

Read more: Best outdoor dining spots in the Cotswolds

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