Winter Paddleboarding in the UK: Tips to Beat the Cold

Winter paddleboarding in the UK isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it’s an experience that’s truly rewarding. With the right gear and a bit of knowledge, you’ll find yourself conquering the icy waters in no time. This guide’s here to help you do just that.

So, if you’re up for the challenge and ready to embrace the chill, let’s get into the world of winter paddleboarding in the UK. It’s time to face the conditions and make the most of the opportunities stand up paddleboarding gives you.

Choosing the Right Gear for Winter Paddleboarding

Remember, having the right gear isn’t an option when you’re stepping into icy water. Safety should always be your number one priority when going stand up paddleboarding in the winter.

The cornerstone of key equipment lies in the wetsuit. A well-insulated, quality wetsuit is non-negotiable for tackling the unforgiving UK winter waves. I’d suggest opting for a suit with a minimum 5mm thickness. In addition, a windproof jacket will provide an extra layer against the bone-chilling gusts commonly faced in the winter months.

Your hands and feet are next on the list. Board control greatly comes down to well-functioning extremities, so make sure you invest in paddleboarding gloves and booties. They’ll provide the vital insulation and grip needed to command your board amidst the winter waves. If you’re wondering what to look for, here’s a little table to guide you.

GlovesProvide grip and prevent fingers from freezing
BootiesGuard against cold while ensuring foot stability

Don’t forget about your head! As much as 45% of heat can be lost through the head. So, include a thermal cap in your gear kit. Unlike traditional winter hats, a good quality thermal cap will retain heat even when soaked.

Lastly, your paddleboard itself. Winter conditions call for a robust, stable board. An inflatable paddleboard isn’t the best option in frigid conditions, as the cold can affect the pressure, making it less sturdy. I’d advise going for a solid, rigid board, with enough surface area to provide reliable stability when you’re in the icy waters.

That’s a brief overview of your winter paddleboarding gear. But remember, each piece of gear plays a key role in not only ensuring safety but also enhancing your experience out in the winter waves. Make sure you’re geared up and ready to go before you take on the frosty surf.

Understanding the Challenges of Winter Waters

While it’s not a sport for the faint-hearted, winter paddleboarding brings about a sense of thrill, adventure, and stark beauty that’s hard to compare. Yet, it is crucial to understand the formidable odds presented by winter waters. Here, we go beyond just the equipment and delve deeper into the distinct challenges that the icy waves pose.

Given that you’re mostly surrounded by cold water, the risk of hypothermia can’t be downplayed. It’s important to emphasise that in the heart of winter, water temperatures in some parts of the UK can drop below zero degrees Celsius. To put it in perspective, loss of dexterity can start to set in within just five minutes, with the risk of unconsciousness from cold shock peaking at fifteen minutes of exposure.

These conditions intensify if you capsize, highlighting the paramount importance of maintaining control and stability on the board. Despite being seasoned, the turbulent winter waves can often surprise the most experienced paddleboarders. During winter, wave height can often increase, and the unpredictable UK weather often brings strong winds and sudden storms. These harsh elements add to the challenge, requiring not just strength but calculated manoeuvring and exceptional balance.

On top of these physical challenges, winter paddleboarding can also be a mental game. Paddling against frigid winds, navigating turbulent waves in the chilling cold, far from the comfort zone, it’s not unusual to question, “What am I doing here?” It’s crucial, then, to prepare not just physically but mentally. With focused determination and the right mindset, you’ll find the silver lining even amidst the harshest winter waters.

Lastly, not to forget that the daylight hours are considerably shorter during winter in the UK. This means you must account for decreased visibility and shorter trip times when planning your paddleboarding session. Aiming to start and finish your adventure during daylight hours is fundamental for safety.

In all, understanding these obstacles is a major step in harnessing the potential of these unruly winter waters. Equipped with this knowledge, we’ll further delve into how we can overcome these challenges to safely and enjoyably partake in winter paddleboarding in the UK.

Essential Safety Tips for Cold-Weather Paddleboarding

As we delve into the intricacies of facing and conquering the winter conditions, let’s not forget the significance of safety. When tackling the biting cold and icy waters using your stand-up paddleboard (SUP), safety should always be paramount.

Wear the Right Gear

One of the primary steps to ensuring safety during a winter SUP session is donning the correct gear. It’s not just about the thick wetsuit that keeps hypothermia at bay. You also need to protect all extremities. High-quality gloves and booties prevent frostbite, while a beanie or cap safeguards your ears and forehead.

Keep Dry

While the aim is to stay upright on your paddleboard, falling into the icy water might not be avoidable for beginners and even seasoned SUP-ers. A must-have in your winter paddleboarding gear is therefore a drysuit for those unexpected splashes.

Always Use a Leash

During the winter, strong winds and currents can quickly separate you from your board. A leash will ensure this doesn’t happen, keeping you and your board connected at all times.
On moving/tidal waters with any current, a quick release belt is recommended in case of entanglement and snagging.

Self Rescue Skills

You must know how to rescue yourself should you enter the water. Self-rescue skills, such as getting back on your board quickly, not only keep you safe but also prevent unnecessary energy loss — a crucial aspect in cold water conditions.

Navigation and Visibility

Winter months in the UK inevitably mean shorter daylight hours. It’s essential to plan your SUP sessions well within daylight to ensure good visibility. Another crucial bit is to stay updated about weather conditions and tide times on your paddleboarding route, as these can change rapidly during the winter.

These safety tips are integral to enjoy a safe SUP experience in the UK’s icy winter waters. There’s no such thing as compromising on safety when it comes to cold-weather paddleboarding. After all, it’s the careful precautions and preparations that make winter SUPing a thrilling adventure.

Top Winter Paddleboarding Locations in the UK

In the frosty winter months, the UK’s water bodies transform into serene landscapes. Their striking beauty paired with quiet tranquillity provides an unmatched winter paddleboarding experience. We’ll explore some of the top winter paddleboarding locations that the UK has to offer.

Hunstanton Coast

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the beautiful Hunstanton Coastline, as it’s where we are based. If you can get a calm, sunny winter morning or evening, we believe there is nowhere better for a scenic, serene sup session.

Bawsey Bay

It’d also be rude of us to forget our friends over at Bawsey Bay Watersports. Based just outside of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, they have a picturesque, sheltered lake available for you to SUP, sail, and canoe on in the grounds of Bawsey Estate and Country Park.

Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands’ lochs are an ideal starting point. Loch Tummel and Loch Morar provide breathtaking snow-capped scenery, creating an epic contrasting effect with the calm waters. Paddleboarders must be prepared for sudden weather changes though – a hallmark of the Scottish Highlands!

Stithians Lake

Stithians Lake in Cornwall is another gem, offering calm and clean waters which are perfect for paddleboarding. It’s a popular choice among locals and tourists owing to its stunning shoreline framed by beautiful trees and rugged hills.

Bournemouth Beach

Next up, we’ve got Bournemouth beach. As one of the most sought-after beaches in the UK, it’s a promising place to paddleboard. The calm sea and the winter sun often makes for a picturesque late-afternoon riding session.

Cleveland Lakes

Don’t forget the Cleveland Lakes at Cotswold Water Park. With its vast expansive waters, it’s definitely a challenge for paddleboarders seeking to push their boundaries. I love exploring aquatic wildlife during my paddleboarding sessions here!

Canary Wharf Pier

For city dwellers yearning for a quick paddleboarding getaway, the Canary Wharf pier in London is the place to be. With peaceful docks surrounded by dazzling skyscrapers, it offers a unique urbanised boarding experience.

Before setting off for any of these locations, keep in mind that the right gear and preparation are essential for a safe, enjoyable paddleboarding experience. It’s always wise to stay updated with weather and tide conditions and paddle within daylight hours. Also, remember the self-rescue skills – they are vital!

Exploring Winter Paddleboarding Techniques

One must not overlook the significance of mastering the correct paddleboarding techniques. Precision and control are keystones to conquering the chill and the wind of winter paddling. Let’s venture into some of the essential tips and insights for effective winter paddleboarding techniques.

In the heart of winter, balance is crucial. It’s amplified in importance as the water turns icy cold and falling in is a far less pleasant prospect. To enhance your balancing abilities, try engaging in yoga sessions or performing balance-specific exercises.

Next comes the striking technique. The forward stroke is a staple in paddleboarding. Although it seems relatively straightforward, executing it correctly can influence your speed and endurance considerably. Make sure your blade is fully submerged before pulling back, and keep the paddle as vertical as you can. Practise this routinely and you’ll find yourself cruising along the icy waters with less effort and more ease.

Turning, another fundamental technique, takes on special importance in the wintery conditions where ice may limit your path options. A highly effective turning technique is the reverse sweep turn. Remain balanced, twist your upper body, and thrust the paddle at the board’s nose, sweeping towards the tail.

Winter paddling means that you’ll likely encounter gusts of chilly winds more frequently. Having skills in upwind and downwind paddling can be highly advantageous. For going upwind, keep your body low, your strokes shorter and more horizontal. Heading downwind, capitalise on the wind by letting it help carry you along. Stand straighter, take longer, less frequent strokes, and savour the ride.

No matter the technique, consistency in practice is pivotal. So keep paddling and conditioning yourself for an unmatched winter SUP adventure in the majestically cold UK waters. Our guide to tackling up-down wind techniques, performing the forward stroke and the reverse sweep turn, as well as maintaining balance honestly make paddleboarding the UK’s icy waters a possibility even for the faint-hearted.


With the right techniques under your belt, you’re all set to conquer the cold, icy waters. Remember, balance is key and your forward stroke technique can make or break your journey. Don’t shy away from the reverse sweep turn and use the wind to your advantage. Consistency in practice is your best friend here. Yoga and targeted exercises can boost your balance and endurance, making your paddleboarding adventure both safe and enjoyable. So, don’t let the winter chill deter you. Embrace the challenge, hone your skills and you’ll be navigating the UK’s winter waters like a pro in no time.


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