It takes a while for my legs to adjust to water. I like to sit for a little while so I can get used to my watery surroundings. Bobbing up and down, getting acquainted with the rhythm. The breeze is swirling all around me and taking a big deep breath I stand, it’s a precious and what can be a wet moment! Slowly I let my breath out as it helps me to maintain my balance….. It’s been a fantastic year or so finding some of the loveliest places to hone my stand up paddleboarding skills.
Llyn Tegid, Bala, Snowdonia National Park
Parking: yes but it includes the launch fee. For our van, we pay £2.50 for 4 hours or £5.00 for the whole day. There are wardens who actively check!
Facilities: toilets and showers are available on site including the Loch Side Cafe who do a good veggie fry up!
Stand up Paddle Board rental: yes – in fact, there’s everything from SUPS, kayaks and canoes.
Other: there’s a sailing club on the other side of the lake as well as another car park which isn’t as busy and has a nice launch place.
Set amongst Snowdonia National Park, the lake at Bala has tremendous views of the Aran mountain range and surrounding hills. Therefore the wind can be a bit strong around these parts and the lake choppy! BUT I have had the chance to paddleboard on here a number of times whilst it’s calm and it’s so wonderful. Bala appeals to me especially because there are so many easy access points to paddle and swim. There’s no big deep drop away like most lakes, so it’s an easy walk into the cool waters.
It’s Wales’s largest lake with the Dee and Tryweryn flowing alongside and into, creating Llyn Tegid. Whilst it gets a lot of tourist action, there’s enough room for everyone to help you feel wild at heart.
2. Clywedog Reservoir, Powys, Mid Wales
Launch Fee: £5 per boat
Facilities: toilets are available during opening season at the sailing club and showers for members.
Stand up Paddle Board Rental: NO sadly, you’ve to bring your own.
Other: only launch from the sailing club as other places belong to the dam which can be dangerous due to underwater machinery.
You’re in for a treat driving to the man-made reservoir since it’s packed full of hills and sneaky peaks of what you’re about to paddle on. Drive slow because there are sheep on the road and the signs for the club are so tiny you may miss them!
I like to paddle at Clywedog because there’s always someone around keeping a watchful eye on you and will give you safety advice depending on water levels and weather.
There’s a nice launch point into the deep water when the water levels are too high to launch from the rocky sides. It’s got a playful energy about the place, perhaps because it’s well known for sailing school residentials yet because there’s no rental shop nearby, you don’t get too many using Clywedog for recreational paddling – it’s peaceful!
3. Lake Vrynwy, Powys
Parking: there are free spots around the lake and a Pay & Display option too.
Launch Fee: £5 per boat plus free parking at the outdoor activity centre. You must hire buoyancy aids or bring your own.
Facilities: cafe, hotel & spa, nature reserve, picnic spots.
Stand up Paddle Board Rental: Yes but to date, there are only a few boards so best to pre-book.
Lake Vrynwy certainly feels wilder than the other two lakes I’ve mentioned. It’s rugged looking and somewhat mysterious. Perhaps because it used to be a village( Llanwddyn)! When the water levels are low, you can see the top of the church steeple…
Set among the remote Berwyn Mountains, Lake Vrnywy provides some seriously picturesque views whilst bobbing away on the water. There are various rocky ‘beaches’ to stop off and picnic on. I’m not a huge fan of the launching point from Bethania Adventures because it’s steep and rocky, and feels somewhat awkward but once you’re on the water you’re free to paddle right around (well until the white house high on the hill) and even up to the dam wall.
I’m looking forward to adding a few more places to paddleboard in Wales. Look out for some guides too – it’s only taken me a year to get something down on paper!
Where do you like to go to paddle?