Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event from Tenderstem and Sian Lewis from the Girl Outdoors. Aside from getting to sample some delicious recipes that incorporated Tenderstem, a brocolli variation that is twinned with Chinese kale, we also got to soak up the last of the summer whilst stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) down the Thames from Kew Bridge to Isleworth.
Tucked underneath the Kew Bridge’s arches is a company called Active 360 whose friendly instructors will take you out on the historic Thames on a paddleboard and lead you into corners of river you never knew existed.
Admittedly for September, we were lucky with the weather as we headed out on a glorious sunny Friday afternoon in shorts and t-shirts. As soon as we pushed off the jetty, in a slightly wobbly way, we certainly felt a million miles away from the bustle of the city. Starting on our knees to get used to the sensation of being on water and to find our balance, we slowly made our way to standing, a little like Bambi on ice.
Once fully standing, it feels like your queen of the river, paddling equally on either side so that you maintain roughly a straight line. It felt entirely liberating to be in control of your own ‘vessel’ on the Thames, spotting things from the river that you don’t see on land. One of the highlights was stopping for a quick drink at Syon House, bobbing around in a cluster of boards, as our instructor whipped out a stash of paper cups for quick rehydration before we continued on.
Whilst, on the whole, I found SUP fairly relaxing and more of a challenge of balance and core strength, I certainly felt the benefit of a workout once we had finished and the following morning my obliques were certainly feeling it! It’s not without an element of risk and there were a couple of paddleboarders that ended up in the Thames after losing their balance for a split second. More than anything though, I felt the mental benefits of just getting out on the water and slowly paddling away on a micro-city adventure.
If you want to have a go at SUP yourself, we recommend you check out Active 360 for a variety of London locations. The one we tried was from Kew Bridge and the scenery was absolutely stunning. A real city escape!