Having had a little play on a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board in the warmth of Australia, it wasn’t something I thought would be an enjoyable hobby in wintry Britain, but I really wanted to have a go again.

Whilst at a county show at Parc Bryn Bach with my elderly parents, I picked up some information about the SUP activities available at the park and looked up the details online whilst at my parents, but didn’t really progress it much further.

A couple of weeks later I found out that my parents had booked themselves onto an Introduction to SUP course!  Surprised, and a bit jealous, I managed to get myself onto the same course with my parents.  It was wonderful how accessible it was for all ages and how accommodating and flexible the park is for all abilities.  Soon my sister got involved and now even the dog gets on board from time to time!

After the course my parents were able to enjoy a lovely, gentle cruise on a canal in Brecon and I booked onto a SUP weekend in Pembroke. It was one of the best experiences, and very memorable.  As a well-travelled women, I felt I could have been anywhere in the world. The ocean was clear and the wildlife and scenery plentiful. I was able to meet and spend time with others that had completed the course, and I now consider them good friends.

Not long after this the SUP social club was set up where we meet up weekly to spend time paddling and explore new places; it’s a chance to see South Wales from a new angle on the board.   Together, we have paddled rivers, reservoirs, coasts and canals.  They all present their own challenges.  But with time, guidance and practice I’ve been building up the skills and strength to manage it all and deal with every situation.  I especially love the thrill and diverseness of the river SUP.

The latest adventure was a trip to the Highlands, in Scotland where we went off grid, paddled Loch Nevis and Loch Morar, camped, had lots of laughs with good people, looked out at magical scenery and waited for shooting stars on the clearest of nights.

I’ve always been quite an active person, and very much into trail running.  However, SUP has managed to challenge me further by building my upper body strength on the arms and back, results the gym has not produced in years, and more fun.

Through the social activities and the facebook SUP group I have met some amazing people, and shared some exceptional experiences.  I hate to miss a session now, and it’s always great to have new members join us.  It’s such a pleasant, friendly way to spend a Saturday and at the same time build up paddle skills.

As well as enjoying the social side of SUP, I have also been able to build up racing techniques.  Within a year of doing my Introduction to SUP course I have entered a 10k SUP race, and just completed my first multi-disciplined event.  I was able to combine my love for trail running with my love for SUP, with a little bit of mountain biking thrown in.

I’ve been able experience different types of boards at Parc Bryn Bach’s open days, and some of us participated in water safety sessions, so we are now able to help and marshal the water when the park hosts open water swimming events.

It’s clear to say, I didn’t expect so many opportunities and experiences to become available from a simple Introduction to SUP course.  And how wintry Britain has had some of the best things on offer… I can’t wait for what the summer will bring.