If you follow my social channels you’ll know we have recently taken the leap and bought our first Stand Up Paddleboard. This decision was spurred on by a recent day spent on the water with Bodiam Boating on the River Rother where we hired a SUP and enjoyed every minute. We found it was something that the whole family could enjoy with my 10 year old daughter taking particularly well to the sport. So that was it. Decision made. So next question. Where can we go? I asked this question on my Facebook page and received a few helpful pointers. We also knew of a few spots local to us thanks to my husbands love of kayaking. With a bit more research I’ve managed to find 10 great spots to take our SUP across both Sussex and Kent. If yo know of any more please shout. But for now this lot will keep us pretty busy!
1. Barcombe Mills
Where? Near Lewes. Take the A26 out of Lewes about 2 miles. Turn left following signs to Barcombe. You;ll find a car park a short drive down on your right.
What’s the water like? Calm, slow moving river. Good for beginners.
Anything else? There is a pub called the Anchor at the far end of the river. Great for refreshments although it can get very busy in the summer. Barcombe itself can also become incredibly busy on hot sunny days – we have found it’s best to visit either early or late evening.
2. Cuckmere Meanders
What’s the water like? Depending on where you paddle the water can range from clam to tidal as you reach the sea. I would recommend the sea bound route for experience paddlers only.
Anything else? Check tide times before you paddle, especially if you’re planning on tackling the coastal route. Paddling against the tide can be extremely hard work in either direction.
3. Bewl Water
Where? Lamberhurst, Kent
What’s the water like? Bewl Water is a reservoir – great for beginners upwards.
Anything else? You must have Stand Up Paddleboard Insurance in order to gain access to the water at Bewl. You will also need to buy a one-day launch pass from the Fishing Shop. Full details here.
4. The River Rother
Where? The River Rother is a 35 mile stretch of river running from Rotherfield down to Rye where it meets the sea. The area around Bodiam and Northiam is particularly good for paddle-boarding.
What’s the water like? Varies depending on location. The are around Bodiam is quiet as it’s generally too narrow for boats. The last 4 miles are tidal so please check tide times if you are paddling around Rye.
Anything else? Check out Bodiam Boating Station for camping, food and launch point (charge of £5)
5. The Coast
Where? Eastbourne, Brighton, Joss Bay, Camber Sands – take your pick!
What’s the water like? Paddle-boarding on the sea is very different to paddling on rivers or enclosed bodies of water. At best even on a clam day the water will still be choppy making it much harder to balance on your board.
Anything else? Make sure you are equipped and safe to paddle on the open sea. You can read how the RNLI recommend you to do this here.
6. The River Arun
Where? The River Arun is in West Sussex. The river flows from Pulborough through to Arundel meeting the sea at Littlehampton.
What’s the water like? The River Arun is tidal so this area is recommended for intermediate to advanced paddle boarders only. A popular route is to time your paddle with the tidal flow inland from Littlehampton taking you right up to Arundel.
7. Leybourne Lakes
Where? Near Maidstone, Kent
What’s the water like? Leybourne Lakes is perfect for all abilities especially beginners.
Anything else? Due to Covid-19 access to the water is currently available by appointment only at a price of £8 / person. You also need to supply your own safety gear – leash and buoyancy aid. Full details found here.
8. River Medway
Where? The River Medway is a major river in Kent. Strecthing from the High Weald in Sussex through Tonbridge and Maidstone to Sheerness where the Medway meets the Thames.
What’s the water like? Varies depending on where you are. The Medway is perfect for touring adventures with most stretches offering calm and easy paddling. Popular launch points include Tonbridge Slipway, Yalding and Allington Lock.
9. River Ouse
Where? The River Ouse rises in Lower Breeding in West Sussex with the course running through Isflield, the aforementioned Barcombe Mills, Lewes and Southease before meeting the sea at Newhaven.
What is the water like? The river is tidal below Barcombe so please check tide times if launching at Southease, Piddinghoe or Lewes. You can also paddle upstream from Barcombe through to Isfield Wier where the water is calm although the upper course can become quite over grown.
10. Chichester Ship Canal
Where? The Chichester Ship Canal runs 4 miles from the Southgate basin in the heart of Chichester to Chichester harbour in Birdham.
What’s the water like? Flat and calm. Ideal for beginners.
Anything else? You need to buy a day ticket to paddle on the water at the Chichester Ship Canal. You can find detail of how to do this here.