The United Kingdom has often been referred to as a 'cultural superpower,' and the meaning behind 'quintessential Britain' in my opinion, is at its best during the summertime. Think strawberries and cream on the lawn at Wimbledon Tennis, Pimms on the river at Henley Royal Rowing Regatta, Veuve Clicquot at the Gold Cup Polo and many a pint in the pub during Cowes Week Yachting Regatta. Although the social calendar is brimming with glorious British sporting events, it is the opportunity to partake in a plethora of activities in the Great British outdoors, that sees energy levels soaring. Yes, us Brits love to make the most of the place we call 'home.'
As summertime adventures go discoveries can be made just by getting out, and the same can be said for fitness. I recall the balmy months of summer and the huge amount of pleasure I took in doing just that, with a SUP at home on the Isle of Wight. With an adoration for my Fanatic Inflatable, its user friendly 'pump and go' setup encouraged me to explore uncharted territories. Hopping fences and romping through fields was so easy with the board and paddle rolled neatly into a comfy backpack. There was now no reason to go for a walk, when I could grab a picnic and explore with added fitness benefits.
Since SUPing cropped up on the scene back in 2006, it grew from being the latest craze, into an established sport of different disciplines; surfing, racing and recreation. The recreational side of the sport has seen a 'boom' in the numbers of people getting stuck in and now, weekend walks are replaced by water-tours. In order to get the most out of your time on the water, you'll often reaps the benefits if you add some imagination to your missions and the Isle of Wight is a bountiful location were your creativity will come to life.
If cruising the coastline and sightseeing is something that tickles your fancy, then there are plenty of breathtaking jaunts to go on. Alum Bay, The Needles and Freshwater Bay are picturesque beaches in the West Wight and home to immense white chalk cliffs, hidden caves and great snorkelling. Such impressive landscape and flat waters make for tasty touring conditions, not to mention paddling between locations are sure to give your body a full workout. On the east side of the island, you can paddle ¾ mile out to St Helens Fort. Built between 1867 and 1880, it's an extraordinarily classical sight and a reflection of times past. Although privately owned there is nothing stopping you from taking a closer look and maybe a selfie.
For those looking to make a day out of it, then how about paddling up many of the island's river mouths to a quaint pub for a refuel. Yarmouth, is a town and port named for its location at the mouth of the Yar river, an estuary that runs inland though an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cruise through the maze of reeds, discover the salt-marshes and mud-flats which all play host to a rich abundance of wildlife, and end up at the Red Lion pub. A little further up from Yarmouth is Newtown Creek, a popular destination for boat enthusiasts to moor up, swim, have a picnic and maybe even venture up to the New Inn. The creek reminds me of those lazy summer days of exploration described in the book, Swallows and Amazons, and never fails to please. Heading towards the east is The Medina River in the marine town of Cowes. A haven to yachts all year round, it has a buzzing vibe throughout the summer months. SUPing up the river to the Folly Inn - a rustic pub perched on the river banks - is a lot of fun and a great place to kick back and rest in the beer garden before heading home. If you're now in the flow of SUP and pub-hopping then Wooton Bridge is the last on my list. With the inlet starting at Fishbourne, the creek leads up to The Sloop Inn, a popular watering hole right on the waters edge with breathtaking views. All of the locations are ideal for those looking for an easy ride, flat waters and possibly a reward at the end.
If action is what you want, then action is what you'll find on the south side of the island. Atlantic swells often find their way to the southern coast bringing anything from fun sized rollers for all levels, to pumping waves for the more hardcore. Compton Bay, offers a two mile stretch of sandy beach, rolling seas and sandstone cliffs. A popular spot for surfers, this beach break gets good with a south-west swell with a northerly wind. For those willing to paddle ¼ mile out, Chilton Ledge can be world class in cranking swells breaking both left and right. Due to the location of this break out to sea, it's often empty and not uncommon to score on the empty break.
On the outside, the Isle of Wight is a tranquil seaside location. But for those willing to take an adventure, you'll find it's brimming with things to do and places to discover. With a board under your feet and paddle in hand, the island is your oyster and your SUP the ultimate ticket to ride.