Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP for short is one of the most accessible Watersports out there at the moment for people to try. It is easy to buy or hire a board and then almost immediately be able to adventure on it. They are also much easier to transport than a kayak or a canoe and you can be standing up on the board confidently within a couple of sessions.
Fort William is the Outdoor Capital of the UK and we think it has some of the most epic locations for paddleboarding all within a 40 minute drive of the town.
Over the summer we will post a few of our favourite locations and why we love them so much.
Our favourite Paddleboard tour spot is first on the list, Glenfinnan!
In the North-East corner of Loch Shiel there is a small river called the Callop which runs into the main loch. It is a superb place to get to grips with a Paddleboard. Sheltered in most conditions it gives the ideal start to a trip with an easy launch and several sheltered lagoons filled with stunning water lilies to paddle around.
Once you have found your balance on the paddleboard you can make your way up the river with beautiful Scots pine trees on the hills around you and enjoy getting to grips with how the SUP is working. There are plenty of sheltered sections to practice turning and standing.
Playing some games on the boards really helps with confidence and luckily the water in the river is fairly warm so no need to worry about falling in. Making paddleboard trains and helping each other find balance on the boards always makes for some amusement.
You can journey up the river for about 1-1.5km depending on how much water is in the loch but it never really flows too much so paddling up is always possible.
Once you leave the shelter of the river then you can journey out into Loch Sheil. You head under the wooden bridge and out towards the Loch, the Glenfinnan monument will come into view on the right and a small island (Eilean Ghleann Fhionainn) is out on the left.
The island provides a lot of shelter from the prevailing wind (generally SW) which means you can often sneak into one of the sheltered bays tucked in behind it on the most windy days.
Once you head further out into Loch Sheil and near the island you start to great brilliant views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous amongst other things for the scene in Harry Potter where the flying car is following the Hogwarts Express. We time all of our trips with a chance to see the train crossing the viaduct which is an awesome spectacle, especially as no-one else gets to see the same view!
Once you head out around the island you can enjoy stunning views down Loch Sheil and there is plenty to explore around the shores of the Loch. If you were feeling adventurous you could paddle up the Loch on the Eastern side and cross coming back down the Western side to the jetty on the Western shore. This is where Loch Sheil cruises depart from, another brilliant way to explore once you have been out for a paddle.
Remember to park in the Glenfinnan Community car park and respect the area you are visiting. It is such a beautiful part of the world and we want to keep it that way whilst showcasing its beauty to people visiting.
If you are heading out paddleboarding without a guide then make sure to check the weather (especially the wind) before you go, think about where to respectfully launch and get changed and make sure to wear some kind of Buoyancy device (a buoyancy aid, life jacket or SUP inflatable belt).
Check out our Glenfinnan sessions if you fancy exploring a beautiful place, trying out SUP for the first time or just hearing some of the history and interesting facts about this amazing place.