South Hams SUP WALK Adventures is up and running. It’s taken a while but we finally have all our licenses, permissions and qualification in place. We are now a recognised paddleboard school with the British Stand Up Paddleboarding Association (BSUPA). Simon has guided people around the waterways of South Hams, across England and as far away as Scotland for 10 years. He is a qualified BSUPA Level 2 Tour guide and has competed on the GB National SUP Series for a number of years – finishing 2nd overall in the Vets category in 2019. He is currently undergoing his assessment with the Water Skills Academy to become an Expedition Leader, the highest qualification in the UK for a paddleboard tour instructor.
Mandy is also a qualified BSUPA Instructor and is a member of the British Mountaineering Council. She is currently being assessed as a Hill and Moor Leader, one of the UK’s most stringent qualifications for an outdoor leader and walking guide (she should be able to find a pub even in the thickest fog bank).
Both Mandy and Simon are advanced outdoor first aid trained, qualified to use VHF radios and hold the RYA Level 2 Powerboat qualification. South Hams SUP WALK Adventures is also licensed by the Salcombe Harbour Authority and holds a commercial Boatman License to operate on the Kingsbridge to Salcombe Estuary and the surrounding coastline.
In an era when many people are taking up paddleboarding, it is important to use professionally trained guides equipped with the highest quality equipment and safety gear if you are venturing beyond quiet, sheltered water. A wobbly board and cheap flexible paddle may not be the safest option in open water when you’re paddling into a stiff breeze or nasty chop. Alongside a good paddle technique, good quality equipment is vital for a safe, enjoyable time on the water. We only use Red Paddle touring boards, widely recognised as one of the best boards on the market. We also provide lightweight, Red Paddle 100% carbon paddles. If you are touring for 2 or 3 hours you need to know your equipment can get you through the most challenging conditions. A stiff, stable board and tough, lightweight paddle are your best friends if conditions deteriorate.
Safety is always our number one priority when we’re out on the water with clients. We plan each route with the weather, tide and paddler ability in mind. Sometimes we will start from Kingsbridge, other times from Salcombe – whichever is safest and the most enjoyable. A properly attached leash and buoyancy aid (minimum 50Nm) are compulsory kit, regardless of ability. We also carry a spare paddle and a towing rope just in case. Of course a first aid kit is a must on every tour and we always take a VHF radio in case we need to call the emergency services or Salcombe Harbour Office. On top of this we carry a phone in a waterproof case as a back up.
On coastal tours we also bring along a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for extra security. If deployed, it uses satellite links to notify rescue services where we are, even in the middle of the ocean. Of course all our coastal tours take place within 50m of the shoreline so the chances of having to use a PLB are extremely remote, but better to be safe than sorry!
Paddling and walking the Kingsbridge to Salcombe Estuary
The Kingsbridge to Salcombe Estuary (which in the strictest definition is a Rhia) is nestled in the heart of South Hams and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) and home to a number of rare and endangered species. While we are always excited to point out the wide range of birds, fauna and marine life that inhabit the estuary, our policy is to avoid sensitive areas on the water and shoreline. For example we will stop on shingle beaches for a home made cream tea but we look to avoid the intertidal mud flats exposed at low tide that are home to communities rich in burrowing fauna such as eel grass, sea potatoes and a myriad of aquatic mollusc (oysters, mussels and scallops). You can expect to see various birds such as Kingfishers, Egrets, herons, Oyster Catchers, and Curlews but we do not approach nesting areas in and around the various salt marshes that dominate the upper reaches of some of the creeks. There are one or two very sensitive area we avoid disturbing such as Salt Stone which is home to the sea squirts and the very rare Fan Mussel and the Golden Kelp beds that inhabit the waters around Castle Rocks and are home to Sea Gherkins and Sea Horses.
Our most popular activity is our Combo Adventures. We provide all the gear and will paddle down the estuary with you (it takes about 2.5 hours) pointing out all the estuary wildlife. We stop on an isolated beach for a cream tea picnic and a swim (if it’s warm enough!). When you arrive in Salcombe, all your dry gear and walking boots will be waiting for you. Over about 1.5 – 2.0 hours we’ll guide you back to Kingsbridge following the estuary footpaths and quiet Devon lanes, stopping at all the best locations to view the estuary.
This slow paced tour is the ideal way to truly take in the majestic beauty of the landscape and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the Kingsbridge to Salcombe estuary – a unique SSI in the heart of Devon’s premier AONB.
We look forward to hosting you for the day.