Is there a better way to spend an hour on a hot, summer Sunday afternoon that leisurely paddle boarding around a lake? I think not. However, it’s not as easy as it’s made to look by more experienced pursuants of this popular activity. We tried our hands (and legs) at it on a last-minute trip to the North Yorkshire Water Park at Wykeham Lakes.
What to do on a hot Sunday in June? Something with the family, of course. However, our older two girls had arrange to go into York on the train with a friend (Dad’s Taxi was required to get them to the station) thus we were, in effect, a family of four for the day. But still, what to do?
Driving back from the station my mind wandered back to the previous weekend and our very brief break in north Wales. The girls tried paddle boarding on Llyn Padarn in Llanberis but as the weather closed in, sadly I didn’t get to give it a go myself. Then I remembered the lakes at Wykeham and the ever growing North Yorkshire Water Park.
On returning home I got on their website and booked the 2pm session for myself, D and V – Helen wanted to watch. At £16 each for one hour of paddle boarding it’s not a low-cost activity by any means but I like to blend free-fun with the family with some well chosen paid outings.
The water park is somewhere I’ve wanted to try for a while and every time I drive past the brown signs on the A170 while travelling to Scarborough I make a mental not to arrange something. I was looking forward to finally having a go at this gentle way to while away an hour. I would soon realise this activity is actually quite hard work.
We arrived in good time and found parking to be easy. Having never visited the lakes before I’d not realised what a beautiful place it is to just come and sit with a picnic. If we had planned this out a little better we would probably have brought one.
We checked in with our e-ticket at reception and were handed out timed write-bands and directed to the equipment store where we collected our wetsuits. I had opted not to spend a further £5 on upgrading to full wetsuits reasoning that it was a warm day and the short-legged and sleeved suits would be fine.
Changing rooms are available but I did notice at least one had a broken lock so that’s something to watch out for. More on the those locks later. There are apparently small lockers available for valuables but as Helen was staying ashore we didn’t bother with that.
We’d probably arrived a bit early so had to hang around for 20 minutes or so before collecting out buoyancy jackets (PFDs or personal flotation device) and heading down to the shores of the lake. The instructional demonstrating was brief, to say the least, but how hard can it be really? Quite hard actually!
We’d been instructed to stay kneeling until we got out past the jetty and into the deeper water. Kneeling was the easy bit. We got going and the first thing I noticed was a rather strong wind pushing us back to the shore. V was finding it tough going to make any progress at first.
I quickly found the right technique while kneeling on the board and decided to try standing. Let me tell you, those that make standing on these things and gliding across the surface of the water are clearly superhuman! Just staying upright and balanced was working my legs and core to the max – adding in paddling was tricky to say the least.
It wasn’t long before I was in the water!
Thankfully the water wasn’t too cold, very refreshing in fact. But the instructor was right about one thing – getting back on the board is anything but graceful.
It wasn’t log before the girls joined me in the water.
I did manage to stand up and make some progress but in the end I spent more time kneeling than standing. I also spent quite some time helping D and V back onto their boards.
The hour went all too quickly and the hooter went to signal us all back in.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and the paddleboarding bug has bitten me now. I think buying one of these things would be a great investment to make so I best start saving as a decent one is upwards of £300!
Back to those changing rooms and some drama. I had already changed and was waiting for the girls to come out when I heard screaming and banging coming from the room they were in. I dashed to the door to discover the lock had jammed and they couldn’t get out. Using a 2p coin on the outside and D wiggling the lock from the inside we managed to open the door after a couple of minutes, much to the relief of V who we now know has a severe fear of being locked in!
We reported it to the reception immediately and showed them which changing room it was. Oddly, another parent said to Helen that the same thing had happened to them – so why didn’t they report it?
All in all, I really think that paddle boarding is a great way to spend fun family time and staying fit at the same time. It’s not a low-cost activity when you are hiring out the boards and equipment so it it’s something you think you’d like to pursue, like us, then investing in a board or two might be the way to go. Places like North Yorkshire Water Park charge for using their facilities but at £25 for a full day it is a fraction of the hiring costs (£15 half day / £5 after 5pm).
On the way home we called into Baldersons in Thornton-le-Dale for some pasties and ice creams. I realised my legs were wobbling as I walked. Maybe this SUP’ing had worked some muscles that weren’t used to being worked!