Blog #7 – On SUPfari!

We’re fresh back from Norfolk this week after a full-on weekend of SUP fun! Although the initial intention for our first trip of the year was an exclusively flat-water mission to Stratford-upon-Avon, the weather gods had different ideas – and on Thursday mid-morning the campsite dropped the bombshell that they were still waterlogged and had to close the field. Time for plan B then? Obviously, booking a big group into a campsite the following day has its challenges and we’d soon discounted several promising options … until Google revealed Stiffkey on the North Norfolk coast, with a relaxed campsite at High Sand Creek right beside some very promising looking saltmarshes, a huge estuary at Blakeney, plus there looked to be a proper North Sea swell and the renowned break at East Runton was just a little way along the coast. Suffice to say (huge thanks to El) that we were sorted again by Thursday mid-afternoon!

The roadtrip was on Friday, with an 8-van-strong convoy winding our way north to hit Stiffkey by lunchtime. Inordinate amounts of camping and paddleboard kit emerged from vans … and a couple of hours later we were all set up and ready to hit the water for our first paddle. A little scouting had found us a good launch onto the saltmarshes just a few minutes’ walk away and we enjoyed a fine trip out to the estuary, and a little exploring, before a grand dinner at the Red Lion pub. Saturday dawned sunny, so we enjoyed a relaxed morning’s breakfasting before trooping off east to Runton where we were greeted by a beautifully glassy waist to chest-high break in almost no wind – and as it was low tide, we got the place completely to ourselves for a couple of hours before the crowds arrived for the mid-tide sweet spot. Everyone caught some fun waves in a great atmosphere, so it was big smiles all round over a late lunch at the Fishing Boat pub. Then we were rolling again, back towards camp via Blakeney Quay for an amazing flat-water high tide session – first out to the estuary then, as the wind picked up, back into the marshes. Magic in the sunshine. Wells-next-the-Sea provided a fish-&-chip supper before we headed back to camp, then back to the pub! In fact, the night did go pretty late for some of us … which meant a depleted party for the dawn patrol paddle back on the saltmarshes at 7 o’clock Sunday morning. Then, naturally, reality bites on Sunday and the group gradually dispersed to head for home while a few of us stayed to see if Runton would deliver again come mid-afternoon before the weather closed in. But in the end we never found out, as the coast got so fogbound that we couldn’t even see the water from the clifftop car-park! (So yes, we might have headed back to The Crown Inn, Sheringham for a Sunday lunch instead…) Check out a load of pix on our Facebook page – and look out for more to come too.

We’re already planning our next SUPfari, heading west next time – although full details are still tba… Talk to us at SUP Club or stay tuned to the Facebook SUPsect Forum for word on that. Talking of which, good to see the home guard getting out there back in Essex over the weekend. Keep on sharing and tagging #SUPsect / @SUPsectUK on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

So what else have we been up to? Well, SUP Club last week was brilliant, but a misty old evening – ‘sea haar’ the BBC weather crew were calling it all day, which was pretty moody but brought dusk down with a vengeance! We took on the 9km downwinder / down-tider from Thorpe Bay to Old Leigh from mid-tide and got a good turn-out with 15 paddlers in all. Great to welcome some new and returning SUP Clubbers, and some solid paddling all-round saw us beyond the pier and on past Chalkwell as darkness descended a little earlier, and darker, than we’d bargained for. No problem though, there were just enough lights between us to get up Leigh Creek and into the Old Town unscathed as the cockle boats headed out. Then as we’d sorted vehicles before the launch we headed straight for the Crooked Billet for a celebratory drink – and on to Leigh Tandoori for dinner. Plenty more photos of that paddle on Facebook too.

And what’s coming? A heatwave seems to be imminent. Wednesday and Thursday are widely predicted to be the hottest we’ve had since August last year! What does that mean for SUP Club? Well, a 3.05pm high tide has already ruled the coast out for us this week, so we’re definitely back to the River Chelmer – with south-east or easterly winds on the forecast we might be heading east this week, hence the likely venue is Paper Mill Lock so we can go whichever direction best suits the flow and breeze. Prime candidate is the 6k All Saints / 8k Hoe Mill loop? Keep an eye on our Facebook page for the heads-up later this evening and the full call, as usual, around Wednesday lunchtime.

The weather’s sticking around through the weekend too, and this Sunday 22nd still looks sweltering for our first Learn to SUP lessons back at Papermill Lock – available to book online now, with spaces still available on our 11am and 2.30pm courses. If you know anyone keen to hit the water with us this season, we can get them on board properly, safely and successfully: guaranteed to stand up or their money back!


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