International travel is now back on the menu for 2022, however, for some, the stress and worry just isn’t worth it. Following on from the boom of 2021, there is a huge amount of interest in so called staycations. SUPM has taken a look at several UK destinations that may tickle the palette of SUPers, maybe something here could give you inspiration for a day out or longer, so here we go from north to south with the first of a dozen spots…
Frangipani SUP Limited
We are based on the water’s edge in the historic maritime town of Maldon in Essex, which is situated at the head of the Blackwater estuary. Maldon is proud of its busy tidal harbour, which sees many beautiful old Thames barges and a myriad of other commercial and pleasure vessels navigating its channel. Our office window looks out onto the low barges that draw out water for making the world-famous Maldon Salt. We watch the wading birds and egrets feeding on the mud at low tide and the distant saltings changing from green to shades of purple and bronze through the seasons.
The Essex coastline is hundreds of miles long, running from the Thames Estuary to the port of Harwich, with estuaries of the Blackwater, the Crouch and the Stour along its length. Steeped in both tradition and unspoilt natural beauty, much of the county’s shoreline is worth exploring.
Islands, such as Mersea, tidal creeks and inlets nestle amongst the mudflats and saltmarshes, and saltwater laps against shingle, sand, shells – and of course mud. We have lots of mud. You can find desolation amongst the almost mesmerising marshes of Tollesbury, peace amongst the Walton Backwaters, adored by author Arthur Ransome, and celebration on the sandy beaches of the bustling seaside holiday towns such as Southend-on-Sea and Clacton-on-Sea, almost in equal measure.
Our county’s inland rivers are also plentiful in number and in interesting places to explore by SUP. The River Stour Navigation (see the River Stour Trust for more information) meanders through Dedham Vale, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and was the inspiration of John Constable’s paintings. And the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation runs from the city of Chelmsford to the sea lock at Heybridge Basin (see Essex Waterways Ltd for more information), where horses and barges worked its length carrying coal, timber, bricks, grain and flour. Both navigations were opened in the 1700s and are of significant historical importance. Wildlife (not just the stiletto and fake tan variety) abounds along the coastline and the county’s rivers, and with so much to spot, it would be a good idea to look at the Essex Wildlife Trust website and social media to find out more.
We recommend you start with a good look at VisitEssex.com, a helpful hub of information for the visitor for planning a trip to the county. For a super view of the coastline from the air, we keep a copy of ‘Essex Coast from the air, a book of photography’ by Jason Hawkes, on our office coffee table.
Regarding where to launch and SUP safely and considerately, it is just not possible to do that justice here, so we will not even try. We recommend that you google and contact the local SUP schools, clubs and centres in the area that you are interested in visiting, have a chat with them, and perhaps even go out paddling with them. Local knowledge is essential for safe and successful paddling and knowing what licences or fees may be needed. They will also be able to tell you about the best pubs, restaurants and tearooms too! The Environment Agency, The Canal and River Trust, local harbour and port authorities, the Coastguard and the RNLI are essential sources of information regarding water access. I hope this helps, and remember, Essex is the only way.
Places to go and things to do
Hire a kayak, canoe or SUP and explore the coastline and meandering waterways of Essex: www.clactonkayakrental.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
https://frangipanisup.com or email email@example.com
Sailing trips on a vintage Thames barge from Maldon: www.top-sail.co.uk/
Wildlife and bird watching at Essex Wildlife Trust and RSPB reserves: www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/wallasea-island www.essexwt.org.uk
River cruises from Brightlingsea around the Colne estuary: www.brightlingseaharbour.org