After six months away from a paddle board and with the weather finally starting to warm up in the UK, I jumped at the chance to go on a SUP microadventure with the world leaders in inflatable paddle boards, Red Paddle Co. I was curious to experience just how easy it is to swap city life for wildlife, without having to take any time off work or comb through my diary for a free weekend!
Setting off on a Microadventure
Our pint sized mid-week adventure, began at St Pancras International, where we boarded a direct train to Bedford. Even on the busy commuter train it was easy to wheel on the inflatable SUP boards and within an hour and a half we were on the banks of the River Great Ouse, getting ready to embark on our adventure.
Having stand up paddled several times last year (and subsequently becoming a bit of a SUP obsessive), I was interested to see how different an inflatable board was to a hard board. I learnt Red Paddle Co’s boards are made using MSL Fusion technology to ensure they are lighter, and more durable than competitors. This also means they are easy to store (for those of us who live in flats and don’t have a loft or garage). Even better news, they are easy to transport with their innovative carry bag that doubles as a backpack or wheeled luggage. The bag has ample room for the board, pump and paddle and even has space for your personal gear too, so if you’re travelling abroad there’s no need for another suitcase or hefty airline fees as it counts as regular hold luggage. The SUP boards remain stiffer at lower pressures so it only takes a few minutes to unpack and inflate…making paddling to the local pub for a sundowner actually possible, even for city dwellers like myself!
We unpacked, got changed into our quality and affordable waterproof jackets and inflated our boards in just under five minutes. Our group of twelve was formed of mainly beginners, so after a safety briefing we had a short lesson in how to paddle, from Richard Harpham, experienced adventurer and director of Canoe Trail, an award winning family run business offering canoe and kayak adventures on the River Great Ouse. Richard would be our guide for the microadventure, and was also in charge of the all important snacks!
Before long we had set off, and the group was slowly gliding along the scenic waterways of Bedford. The water was still so it was easy to relax and find your own rhythm whilst taking in the beautiful green surroundings. We paddled 4.5 miles along the river, stopping halfway for a snack break before continuing on to our woodland wild camp. Half the group had fallen in, including myself, but thankfully we had our changing robes (a complete game changer for anyone who does watersports or obstacle races, I loved mine so much I wore it to bed that night too!).
We arrived at the campsite at 8.30pm, it was the perfect setting to relax in front of a glowing campfire, steaming hot chocolate in hand, absorbing all of the evenings magic. It was hard to believe just four hours ago we were navigating the London underground.
Our tents had been set up by Canoe Trail, and their wonderful hospitality meant we had plenty of time to enjoy a delicious campfire dinner and even a few glasses of wine that had been chilled in the brook. As dusk drew near we took comfort in the warming glow of the fire and honed our s’mores making skills whilst toying with the idea of waking up early for a sunrise paddle, before catching our train back to civilisation.
…all of this on a Wednesday evening, back in time for work in London on Thursday morning…a true microadventure!
Has this inspired you to go on a microadventure? I’ve learnt you really can escape with just an overnight trip!
Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP boards start from £849. Red Original create paddle boarding accessories, from luxury changing robes, to insulated water bottles, microfibre towels and deck dry bags built specifically for paddle boarders in mind. Canoe Trail runs kayak, canoe, and SUP rentals on the River Great Ouse. They offer an array of adventures lasting from half day to a full weekend. Photography by Global Shots.