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Stand Up Paddle Boarding for Beginners

Blue sky, flat calm water, green hills and woodland surrounding me. I can hear the birds in the trees and smell a crisp spring morning out at Talkin Tarn.

Paddle boarding gives a whole new view to the world. There a few activities so calm and relaxing! 

On the day this photograph was taken, I saw a huge fish swim right underneath my board. That was pretty cool!

Paddle boarding is one of the most accessible outdoor activities to emerge in recent times. We see lots of people at Talkin Tarn, who have bought a cheap board, then pop down and pay the £4 launch fee for a day of fun in a beautiful setting. We're usually on-hand during the season to offer some hints and tips, and we'll even inflate your boards for you in return for a donation to the North Cumbria Rescue and Response team collection box.

It's great to see people getting out and enjoying the water. Here are a few tips to help you to keep safe....

  • Make sure you inflate your board fully. The pressure to inflate your board is written by the valve. It's pretty high and little time, especially if your pumping up your SUP by hand, but if it says 15PSI - make sure you pump it up to 15PSI! Your board might feel rigid far below this, but once you get in on the cool water and try to stand up, you'll just be really wobbly!
  • Make sure you wear the right kit. A buoyancy aid (Personal Floatation Device - PFD) is essential. Cold water shock is a real danger and if you end up in the water (let's face it - it's pretty likely), you want to be as safe as possible. You might be a great swimmer, but that doesn't mean anything when you go from being toasty warm in the sunshine to suddenly being submerged in the lake! Even our instructors, who are in the water all the time, wear their BA!
  • Dress for the conditions. In the height of summer, we'd rather be wearing shorts, t shirt, and a hat. Our plan is to spend more time out of the water than in it, and we don't really want to be overheating in a wet suit, or a dry suit. At cooler times of the year we'll wear them, or if we plan on spending lots of time swimming around.
  • Where a leash. Even if the wind is just a slight breeze, when you fall off, the board will likely be kicked away and you'll be chasing it around. We use waist leashes on the whole, simply because these are easier to reach and disconnect if we were to get tangled up in anything.

Once you have all the right kit, the most common question we hear is, "How do I stand up on my paddle board?"

This is something that you'll need to practice, and it's ok to fall in once in a while!

On all of our sessions, we begin to get to know our boards from a kneeling position. It's a great idea to find deeper water before attempting to stand up, that way falling off will be a painless experience!

  • Find a central position on your board. - with knees to either side of the carry handle.
  • Paddle a little to gain some forward momentum. Ever tried to balance on a stationary bicycle? - doesn't work, does it?
  • Keep your eyes ahead, looking to the horizon.
  • Then it's up to you, I'm sure you've done it on land, so try on the board! Keep the board moving, those eyes ahead, and keep your weight distributed as evenly as you can.
  • Once you're up, use the paddle for stability by putting in a couple of strokes and keeping that momentum. Look where you want to go - look down and you'll go down!
  • A really stable stance, if you're feeling unstable but don't want to kneel back down, is to rest the blade of your paddle in front of you and lean on the shaft - creating a tripod with your legs and paddle.

As a final tip, something to try is adjusting the position of your feet. This is something that we play with on our taster sessions, and helps people to find a really stable stance. Once you have the basics, we have lots of hints and tips and coaching during paddle boarding lessons to build your confidence, enabling you to really enjoy your time on the water. We learn when we're having fun!

If you have your own board, you'll be very welcome down at Talkin Tarn. There is a permit system so come and see us, and if we're not open or it's out of the season, swing by the tea rooms and they'll help you out. If you need any kit such as buoyancy aids, paddles, or wet suits, we'll be happy to help. It's well worth booking a private group session online, especially if you're planning a holiday in Cumbria and staying somewhere local like Tottergill Farm Cottages.

Paddle Boarding Lessons with us include,

  • Private Group Sessions - book online for a time to suit you. Your 1.5 hour session is a fixed price for 1-6 participants. More may be added. This includes all your equipment and coaching, and is ideal for family groups and those on holiday near Brampton and Carlisle.
  • Large Group Sessions - If you are in the area for a corporate team building event, hen or stag party, or for a large family gathering, get in touch for our adult group brochure. We have a few package ideas and a wide range of activities. All of our sessions and packages are bespoke to suit you and your group so let us know what you're looking for. We even have a huge "mega-board", which can sensibly hold up to 8 adults, and less sensibly wobble with a few more!
  • British Canoeing Courses - If you're looking for some more formal tuition, just let us know. We have a few courses available on our website, such as "Paddle Safer" and the "Foundation Safety and Rescue Training - FSRT" by British Canoeing. We can also arrange Discover Awards. These courses are all ideal if you are looking to get more into SUP and want to gain the skills and knowledge to practice safely.

With all sessions, access to the water is easy, you will have the use of warm showers and changing rooms, and you'll gain coaching from our awesome team of instructors.

Whilst we only pre-book for private sessions, we sometimes have last minute availability on the day. If you come and see us then we will have a sign outside our cabin listing any available times, when places will be available on an individual basis - these are open sessions and not available to pre-book.

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Thursday, 18 April 2024

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