Lakes, lakes, and more lakes. Yes, that is right – the UK’s Lake District has an abundance of breathtaking and stunning lakes that are surrounded by natural beauty, in every direction, and are perfect for stand up paddle boarding.
This English National Park is known for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged fell mountains, Scafell Pike peak, and historic literary associations. Beatrix Potter walked this landscape, Woodsworth was inspired by the views, and you too can explore Britain from a different perspective. Taking a SUP to The Lakes is an alternative point of view to this iconic region and one of the best places to paddle board in Britain.
Best explore in the summer for optimum paddling, but that does not mean you cannot paddle board in the Lake District throughout the year and in the off-season. Here are the best places to explore The Lakes with a paddle board, where to book a lesson, and where to grab a rental paddle board if you have not bought your own SUP yet.
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You can paddle board on most of the 16 recognized Lake District lakes without a permit. Here are the best places to check out with your paddle board. Maybe take your hiking boots along with you to enjoy the trails and get a higher viewpoint of the lakes.
Windermere is the largest lake in the Lake District, and yes, you can paddle board the 11 miles of water. With easy access points and sheltered shorelines on the north side, this is a fantastic place for beginner paddle boarders to master their technique and fall in love with the sport.
You can even bring your four-legged friend along for the ride and start paddle boarding with your dog. The calm waters and accessible launch sites at Lake Windermere make it a great place to test your dog's sea legs. Just remember to take it steady and do not force them to do anything if they show distress or hesitancy.
Make sure you always check the weather forecast. This is a large lake and the wind can whip across the water, making choppy waves in some spots further south.
Coniston Water is about half a mile away from the village where you will find shops, pubs and places to eat, along with a range of B&B’s and holiday cottage rentals. The lake itself is five miles long, half a mile wide, and has the mountain of the Old Man of Coniston towering above.
This is a picturesque lake to SUP and is generally quieter than the more popular Lake Windermere. You can launch from a choice of two sites to the north of the lake, one of which is the iconic wooden pier.
There are three small islands within Coniston Water that are owned and protected by the National Trust. You cannot land here as they have important habitats for the local wildlife. However, you can enjoy them from a distance from your paddle board.
Head to the Armboth Car Park on the west shore of Thirlmere Reservoir to launch your paddle board. This beautiful spot lays under the shadows of the impressive 3,000+ foot Helvellyn Mountain. So if you also enjoy a hike, double up your outdoor adventure and combine exploring trails with paddling the waters.
Thirlmere Reservoir offers great panoramic views and is a peaceful place to paddle board. You can easily spend an entire day SUP touring the 3 mile length of water, taking in the forest scenery along the way.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District and is popular for a whole variety of watersports. It is also the most accessible lake in the region which means it is often busy with day trippers on sunny days. Why not level up your paddle boarding experience and add on a kayak seat to relax-to-the-max?
The best SUP launch site is from the Glencoyne car park. From here, you can explore the southern end of the lake, paddle out to Norfolk island, and then down to Glenridding to have a quick break and recharge.
Sometimes you need to find a quiet corner of nature to melt away the days. Paddle boarding on Wastwater is just that peaceful escape. This spot is generally quiet with very little crowd out on the water.
We say get out on the water for either sunrise or sunset so you can soak up the unrivalled views across Kirk Fell, Great Gable, and Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England). Wastwater is also Britain’s deepest lake. Now that is a paddle boarding bucket list destination!
Derwentwater is one of the best places in Cumbria to paddle board amongst wildlife. Not only that, but this location is surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty. From being surrounded by snow-capped falls to the wood-fringed shores, this place is guaranteed to blow your mind.
The hilly landscape also offers shelter from strong winds. There are 13 pocket islands along the 2.8 miles stretch of water. So if you are up for an adventurous SUP day, then Derwentwater may just be the spot for you. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels in the trees and rare wading birds on the water.
The River Derwent is 50 miles long, flowing through the Borrowdale Valley to the Irish Sea. Paddle boarding this river is its own adventure and offers a different perspective to the region and the other lakes.
Note, this is not a place for beginners or first timers. River paddle boarding is more technical than flat water lakes. There is the water flow direction and speed to consider, along with the depth and underwater hazards approaching. The River Derwent is perfect for intermediate or advanced SUP enthusiasts.
Why not plan to take on the river as a SUP safari tour expedition? Begin your journey from Borrowdale and stop off at the various small villages along the route for lunch and an exploration.
Grasmere is one of the most popular destinations in the Lake District. Balmy summer days can bring in hikers, poetry fans, and general holiday-makers. However, get out on the lake and the crowds seem to disappear.
Launch your SUP from the sheltered nook at Faeryland Grasmere to the north. From here, you can paddle out into the open waters and take in the natural beauty of the space.
Grasmere Lake is another lake with a protected National Trust island in the middle. Do not be tempted to land your paddle board on the island, but do enjoy the wildlife from a distance.
Loweswater is one of the smaller lakes to explore and is surrounded by rolling hills and fabulous hiking trails. If you want somewhere more remote and low-key, then this is the place to go with your SUP.
This lake is just over a mile long and a third of a mile wide, making it a compact paddle perfect for an afternoon session. We suggest you pair up this location with some nearby hikes. The surrounding woodland is home to countless numbers of deer and red squirrels.
Ennerdale Water is one of the most stunning paddles in the Lake District that is both remote and tranquil. It is a glacial lake surrounded by some of the best known falls in Cumbria such as Great Gable and High Crag. Have your action camera ready for this one, you are definitely going to want a shot to remember this place.
Head to the Bleach Green car park for the best launch site for a paddle board. Because Ennerdale is the most western lake, it does remain one of the most quiet in the Lake District to paddle board.
Note: large groups and commercial tour operators are required to obtain a permit to paddle Ennerdale Water, solo paddlers are fine to hit the water straight away.
There are some places in the Lake District that require a license to get out on the water. You can paddle board on the following lakes but a permit will be necessary, either from the National Park directly or the managing authority.
Crummock Water is managed by the National Trust and is an absolute treasure of the region. Many years ago, this lake was part of the neighboring larger lake, Buttermere Lake, but erosion and landslides have seperated the water into two lakes.
This is a slightly smaller lake than others. And even in the height of summer, Crummock tends to be quieter than the other hotspots in the Lake District. So if you are after a leisurely paddle to unwind, this could be the best spot for you.
A license is required to paddle on Crummock Water. This can be organized through the National Trust. You can either get a season permit or just a day pass. This is another factor that keeps the crowds down.
Another National Trust managed lake, Buttermere is full of protected wildlife residing in and around the water. Just like Crummock Water next door, a license is required to get access to paddling the lake. It is also a quieter lake than other popular spots, lake Winderemere or Ullswater.
There are several campsites nearby to the lake so you can truly get off-grid and escape to the wild. SUP camping is one of the best things to do with a spare weekend! Pack up your tent and grab your inflatable paddle board, the adventure is waiting for you at Buttermere.
Bassenthwaite Lake is the northernmost lake in the region, not far from the popular Keswick. Because of its more remote location it remains quieter than other places in the Lake District. The shoreline and waters are teeming with wildlife and the colors are vibrant and varied all year round.
There are so many nooks and crannies to paddle into, each revealing more charm to the lake. For the easiest launching, head to either Peel Wyke or Hurtshole Point. Both of these spots are on the west side of Bassenthwaite Lake and are suitable for every experience level of paddle boarder.
If you have not got your own paddle boarding equipment yet, do not worry! There are so many fantastic suppliers in the area that rent out SUPs for the hour, day, or week. While you are renting your gear, be sure to ask for any local knowledge that may help you get the most out of your paddle.
Some of these outfitters also offer lessons, for people wanting to learn the basics before being set loose, and fantastic guided tours.
Summer months are great to paddle board in the Lake District, however, it can get extremely crowded. Spring and Fall are sometimes more preferable as shoulder seasons for the majority of tourists. Just keep in mind that the UK weather, especially in the mountains, can be very unpredictable. The winds can pick up all of a sudden and become a hazard for paddle boarders out on the lakes.
Sunrise and sunset paddles in the Lake District are magical moments. Try to experience one of these during your stay, and remember to take your camera to capture the magic!
Choosing your SUP clothing depends a lot on the weather. If you are lucky with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures for your session, then you could get away with wearing your swimwear, or shorts and shirts. Remember though that these are glacial lakes, so the water is going to be cold if you fall in!
Paddle boarding the Lake District in the colder months is possible and you should consider wearing a neoprene wetsuit at this time of year. This will provide a level of protection from the cold water and wind chill.
Some lakes in the Lake District require water sport enthusiasts to obtain a license, but not all. These are not included in the British Canoeing Membership and must be organized through the National Park directly, or the managing authority of the specific lake (ie. National Trust).
Lake Windermere is the most popular lake to enjoy and does not require any licenses. Buttermere is a highly loved and recommended lake that does require a license to paddle.
The choice of lakes to paddle board in the Lake District is endless. The most popular, and often the best place, is Lake Windermere – this is a tourist hotspot and also a great place for beginners to find their balance. More experienced paddle boarders should check out the River Derwent for a more challenging experience.
Yes, you can take your own SUP to the Lake District. Be aware of other people in the water, including boats, kayaks, and swimmers. Lakes that do not require permits can get busy in summer months.
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