I’ve renamed it kneel up paddle boarding …
I’ve been wanting to try stand up paddle boarding for some time but after searching high and low, I couldn’t find anyone operating near to me. Until it occurred to me that next county over (Chester) may do, so I signed up to Martin Blythe Watersport’s website and waited to hear back. How lucky was I to receive an email to say that they would be near me on Sunday (on my Birthday)?!
Note: pictures taken by Melanie and Martin and are unedited.
We met at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at midday, it was a glorious sunny and warm day and we got suited and booted (in our wetsuits and life jackets). We had a quick talk about how to stand and paddle and and it was all go, go, go from there. With things like these, theory doesn’t get you far! We set out on the marina, keeping clear of boats and took the first right which took us on the route to Llangollen as carrying up meant going over the aqueduct.
Unfortunately some teens took it upon themselves to dive face first on to one of our paddle boards which sent Robert flying into the water and the teen ran off. We certainly weren’t expecting that! Fortunately, after that it was a pleasant trip as we meandered up the canal, passing vast green valleys, lots of smiling people who stopped to ask us whether it was hard or not and we only came across one obnoxious boat owner who had a moan about us being on the canal – something about the boats not being able to see us (you know because the big yellow boards and people floating on water are not obvious enough).
Everyone else was standing up because they’d been paddle boarding for a while and Rik even though it was his first time has successful surfed early this year so it goes hand in hand. I however am not blessed with balance nor grace and so standing up for me was going to be somewhat of a challenge. I can only describe standing on a paddle board like standing on a lilo in the sea. Oh yes, I managed to get up twice but each time I was met by a face full of water and on the second time, a mouth full but it was a whole lot of progress compared to surfing so I’m happy! As you may or may not know. I’ve a fear of water, particular deep water but these days, I feel more apprehensive about it. The more I fall in, I’m starting to feel OK about it and the canal was only waist high.
Still, I felt a little frustrated that I couldn’t balance long enough to stand and paddle like everyone else. Anyway, I got back on to my knees (which sounds easy) but actually paddling for nearly 3 hours on your knees takes it out of you. I was super glad of the lunch stop we did at the wet suit friendly The Sun Trevor located on the side of a hill, over looking the surrounding beauty of Llangollen, for half an hour whilst we regained our strength for the paddle back.
I really enjoyed talking to Melanie, Martin’s partner, who was an excellent teacher – very encouraging even though I insisted on throwing myself in, instead of dropping to my knees if I felt unbalanced. It was interesting to hear about how Martin specialises in wind surfing (something I wouldn’t mind having a go at) as well as kayaking and canoeing. As I’m training to be a walking instructor next year, it’s really encouraging to meet all different types of outdoor instructors and find out about their stories.
I loved the paddle back, I had more chance to take in the stunning scenery instead of concentrating on paddling as my arms now numb had become used to it. I thought to myself ‘what a great way to spend my first day being 25 – bring it on!’ I’m delighted to find out that there is going to be part 2 of this trip so since I got a head camera for my birthday, I’ll be trying it out on this trip (water proof casing packed)!