During a recent trip, Somerset Adventures very kindly invited me to go paddleboarding in Somerset with them. As usual, whenever Ms B and I go on a trip these days, the weather forecast was horrific. Then the forecast was gradually amended when it came closer to the day. It turned even more abominable.
YOU CAN’T CHOOSE THE WEATHER WHEN PADDLEBOARDING IN SOMERSET
Obviously this is not Somerset Adventures’ fault. To the contrary, I very much appreciated them acting responsibly and not taking any risks. That said, the weather forced us to reschedule the trip twice. Initially I had been looking to do some paddleboarding in Somerset in the sea along the cliffs. Then we had set our minds on a canyon-like fast-flowing river inland with some of the county’s best beauty spots.
LET IT RAIN
During the day when my paddleboarding in Somerset experience was scheduled, one month’s rain fell down on the county. Sometimes the rain stopped for 10 minutes, then it started drizzling again. Another 10 minutes later the skies opened up again all the way, releasing ferocious streams of water onto earth. All pictures in this article have been brightened. The unedited pictures look more like Blair Witch Project during the night scenes.
ARRIVING AT THE MEETING POINT FOR SOME PADDLEBOARDING IN SOMERSET
When Ellie & I arrived at the meeting location near Creech St Michael, Ben, my instructor, greeted us and made us feel welcome right away. Ellie was not going to join on the actual trip. Instead she took nearly all of the pictures while I was paddleboarding in Somerset.
CHANGING INTO WETSUITS
Quickly Ben and I got into our wetsuits, did a brief run-through of the gear and safety rules. Then we were on our merry way to the Taunton-Bridgwater Canal, about 3 or 4 minutes’ walk away from the parking lot. We put our boards onto the water and jumped onto them.
I’M A BEGINNER
Now is probably a good time to mention that while I’ve done a lot of paddleboarding, including paddling the Thames source to London and the Cuckmere source to sea, my technique is abysmal. I’m basically still very much a beginner. I only picked up paddleboarding less than a year ago and only ever took one lesson.
TRAINING ALONG THE WAY
This is why it was extremely useful to have Ben walk me through the ins and outs, the different techniques, what mistakes to avoid, what to aim for. While he was explaining whatever it was he was explaining, Ben regularly made the effort of demonstrating the mistake or correct technique.
A BIT OF HISTORY
My Somerset Adventures instructor also made time to elaborate on the history of the canal, sights we passed. He shared a few anecdotes from previous trips along the way. Our alternative route turned out to be very pleasant, despite falling slightly short of steep valley or sea cliffs.
LYING DOWN WHEN PADDLEBOARDING IN SOMERSET
At some stage we had to lie down flat on our boards on our backs in order to navigate under a footbridge. I took the opportunity to get a bit of rest, rehydrate, and eat a couple of muesli bars.
ONE-ON-ONE TRAINING SESSION AT THE TURNING POINT
Then more training commenced. At first, Ben demonstrated various techniques like tight turns while standing on the back of the board. I was watching. Then I tried my hand at it. The reason why you only see pictures of Ben doing tight turns is because I think I will need a lot more practice.
BEN WORKING HIS MAGIC
Looking at Ben perform his acrobatic tasks next to me on the canal made me realise what’s possible. And it was a good feeling. Sometimes I got the impression that Ben didn’t even care about where on the board he placed his feet. He seemed to be comfortable placing his feet in one line parallel to the board in the middle just as in any other formation.
PADDLEBOARDING IN SOMERSET – THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY YOU CAN STAND ON A BOARD
At times it looked almost as if my Somerset Adventures instructor was prancing around on the board with no consideration of gravity or the cold water. In all honesty, until that day I had only ever tried one position on my (or any) board: Right above the centre of the board, with my feet as wide apart as possible. Entirely as expected, the relatively short training session didn’t suddenly turn me into an elite athlete on the board. But I did learn a lot and started practicing some of the moves since then.
DON’T DRAG ME OUT OF THE RAIN
On the whole way back to our starting point it was raining so hard, you could see the rain drops cause little explosions on the water all around you. Luckily in a wetsuit the rain doesn’t affect you. We were chatting away, talking about outdoor adventures we’d been on, other hobbies we shared. When we arrived at our exit point, I was almost disappointed that I had to get out of the pouring rain and change into dry clothes.
WE’LL BE BACK SOON
We walked back to the vehicles, changed into our normal clothes, and said our goodbyes. We would meet again two days later for a whole day of caving. I am already looking into booking more activities with Somerset Adventures, including more stand-up paddleboarding more caving, and some coasteering. Ellie is likely to join me on at least some of the trips.
Looking for more fun things to do? Check out our posts about canyoning, climbing, canoeing, kite-surfing, flyboarding, skydiving, and exploring ancient Buddhist temple caves in Bhutan, Roman gold mines in Portugal and Russian coal mines near the North Pole.