It’s not long until corona virus restrictions are due to begin lifting, with day travel within the UK back on the cards from May! For me, that means more chances for paddle adventures, slightly further afield in Dorset and I can’t wait.
I’m very lucky to have incredible paddle destinations right on my doorstep which mean my lockdown paddles have still been epic. So, by popular demand (on my Instagram stories), here are my 4 Top Lockdown Locations, so if Weymouth & Portland is a post lockdown destination for you, don’t forget your paddle board (or kayak or canoe)!
Billy Winters to Sandsfoot Castle
One of my favourite paddles, you can actually launch from either, but the parking and launching is much easier from Billy Winters – there is also the draw of Cake and Coffee at the end of the paddle. Paddling around the edge of the harbour, under the cliffs with the small hidden beaches. At low spring tide, you can island hop across the sandbars, standing in the middle of the harbour and at neap tides you can enjoy the little beaches on route. This paddle is around 2 miles and the first one I took once I was more competent – you can also continue past the castle towards the underbarn, giving you a 3 mile paddle.
You can also hire paddle boards here in the summer, if you just want to give it a try!
The perfect park and play for beginners or individuals, like me that want to practice some skills in the sheltered shallows.
Parking in the pavilion car park, it’s just a short walk to the shoreline more sheltered towards the pavilion wall but offering a long sandy paddle. This beach is a favourite with families due to it safety – the sheltered bay, sandy shallow waters and clean water.
Either practice in the skills in the shallows or paddle along the seafront, heading towards Greenhill gardens or further on to Oasis Café, where the water gets a little deeper.
The fleet lagoon is an area of water between Chesil Beach and the mainland and is a Special Area of Conservation. The area is beautiful and is a stunning place to paddle but it is important before you set off on this paddle you do a little planning.
Firstly, the tide, you do not want to be paddling against the tide here, time it wrong and you’ll might just have to wait it out. Timing it with the tide so that it’s with you on the way out, the tide can flow through here at 8 knots, not something you want to battle against. We aim to do this at neap tides, when hightide is around lunchtime, as there is less tidal flow, it makes it possible to paddle against the tide on the way in.
The other thing is the environment – it’s important that we respect the area to preserve the wildlife, staying away from nesting birds, and avoiding mud flats are also important things to consider. The mud poses a risk of getting stuck if the tide isn’t right, at only a couple meters deep, sticking to the deep channel by chesil bank after the narrows.
While there is lots to consider, if done sensitively, it’s a beautiful paddle, which often includes litter picking in areas not easily accessible.
There is lot of information to be found here to help with planning or alternatively speak to a local instructor to get advice.
Bowleaze Cove to Ringsted
A really beautiful paddle for more confident paddlers – launching at Bowleaze cove you can follow the coast around to the left along the cliffs. With hidden beaches and a shipwreck, a little further around the coast.
The coastline is untouched and beautiful but definitely and adventure for a day with no wind as the water can change quickly so be sure to check the forecast.
This adventure can be as long as you want to make it, 2 miles, 6 or even further if you want to head past Ringsted bay.
Just be sure to check the wind forecast, tides and take safety precautions – wear a PFD, take a phone and only within your ability