A few days in Cardiff for @StandUpPaddleUK

A weekend away with Visit Cardiff and @StandUpPaddleUK

Well it had been a while since I last posted on here but we’ve been busy! So, here’s @StandUpPaddleUK’s weekend away in Cardiff.. Enjoy!

It got to Friday and we were ready for another SUP adventure. Car packed with Stand Up Paddle Boards and gear so we hit the road. Both Dale and Darren setting off from different locations. Dale leaving Nottingham at 4pm and the journey was a breeze, driving into Cardiff Bay and arriving at Voco St David’s Hotel at around 7pm. Darren was coming in from Bedfordshire so an additional hour of travel for him.

The Voco St David’s looked epic when lit

Parking was easy and plenty of it in the hotel car park or a large public car park next door. Arriving at the Hotel it was clear to see why this is a 5* hotel. The lobby was quite spectacular and we were greeted by amazing hospitality. As we came by car we left our gear in the car but I’m sure the hotel would have stored them for us if needed. As Darren was arriving later in the day, Dale and his family took a short walk to Mermaid Key a very short walk from the hotel, within quick access to a lot of restaurants and other bars in the bay. Dale had a wander around and even took his family on Cardiff’s version of the Big Wheel, gaining sights over the bay during sunset which was spectacular! A quick bite to eat and back to the hotel for a good nights sleep for Dale and the family. Darren arriving slightly later, but a very smooth check in was greatly appreciated!

Mermaid Quay is a Hive of activity!

The rooms at Voco were amazing, both had huge views over the bay and what a view it was! Big rooms with excellent facilities this was a good night’s sleep.

The Balcony View over Mermaid Quay

We wanted to check out Cardiff and were drawn to the fact that albeit a city has a wide offering of watersports access. Cardiff hosts CIWW Cardiff’s White Water Centre and here you can paddle on the local river or try paddle boarding on the lagoon, whitewater rafting, and various other water based activities. They even have a surf wave!

A Quick Dinner Tip: Darren recommends the Yakatori1 restaurant in Mermaid Quay.. “Some of the best Sushi I’ve experienced”.

Saturday. We got up and checked out the hotels excellent cooked and continental breakfast offering, socially distances and well managed by hospitable staff, even going out of their way to entertain and make Dale’s daughter a little hot chocolate and talk to her.

After breakfast we headed to CIWW to check in. It was pretty close to our hotel, 5 minutes by car. We prepared our boards in the car park then headed down on to the water. If you want to paddle on the river it’s a small £5 payment and sign in at reception, so that’s what we did.

Plenty of space to prep kit in the car park

The plan was to head up the River Ely for around 2 miles as the weather was a bit dubious and we had afternoon plans with our partners. We changed in the car park, however there is access to changing facilities and toilets at the centre. We carried out boards through the side gates and down some steps to the pontoon which was an easy get on. It was really nice to launch in the marina. Heading right, the river was well protected from winds so it felt like an easy paddle. It is a pleasing start, heading through the boats in the marina and high rise buildings of Cardiff Marina.

A very cool back drop of Cardiff Marina on the Ely

The River was empty so it was plane sailing for us. We did a shade over 4 miles in 1hr 20 mins. Once we got off the water it was a quick deflate of our boards, pack up the kit and drive back to our hotel.

Our route courtesy of Komoot

Whilst paddling, Dale’s wife took their toddler to Techniquest, a science attraction next door to the hotel and played for hours their until we returned. One thing about escaping to a city break to paddle is keeping the family entertained. We even managed to book into the pool and spa in the evening and have a swim and sauna before dinner.

Darren and Becky sampled some of the shopping in the area. St David’s Dewi Saint shopping centre was vibrant, busy and full of shops.. As you’d expect! Lots of parking and plenty of options for lunch.

The Stable Cardiff was a great Lunch spot

On Sunday we enjoyed another great breakfast and recharged our batteries before meeting at Channel View Leisure Centre. £5 to access the river per board, free parking and easy access, not bad at all. We met with a couple of local paddlers and headed up the River Taff. This route is excellent, especially for those who love a stadium. We cruised past the Principality Stadium, the views from the water were very, very cool.

Cruising past the Principality Stadium
📷 Dale Mears

Certainly a different back drop to other paddle routes! A very wide river at the base of Cardiff Bay which narrows down and gets quite shallow after you reach Cardiff Castle. We did a 5.5 mile route in 2hr20mins. Just watch out for those river boats ferrying passengers up and down the Taff.. they will leave you in a meaty wake!!

This section of river in constantly in use, remember to always stay to the Right

Just before getting off we also paddled out into the bay to check out the views over the hotel and large sailing boats the water here was glassy and definitely very different from a river paddle. Worth noting to make sure you understand the buoys to make sure you have a safe paddle.

Cardiff Bay was very calm and a nice flat paddle to end the session
The Sunday route from Komoot

After the paddle we head our separate ways. Darren heading home with the longer journey, with Dale and his family heading to Cardiff Castle another great attraction whilst in the city.

Millie seemed to enjoy herself!

If your looking for a trip away and want to check out some easy city watersports we definitely recommend adding Cardiff to your list!

Better yet.. CLICK HERE to enter Visit Cardiff’s completion for a SUP adventure much like ours! Visit Cardiff have teamed up with partners Cardiff Harbour Authority, Cardiff International White Water & voco St. David’s Hotel to treat the winner and their guest to an exciting 2 day water sports break this October including accommodation, tuition and equipment!

Please note, you must be available to claim your prize experience on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd October 2021. Get entering for an epic trip away!

Ciao for now! Darren and Dale

Can I Paddle during this new Lockdown?

Let’s discuss the recent guidance changes from Gov.UK, Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing

I’ve certainly done a lot of paddling during the Lockdown’s

A tough one to write about and discuss.. Paddling during Lockdown 3.0.. With many outlets including the Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing saying it’s OK to paddle.. Is it? Let’s take a look..

The government guidance states that:

  • Outdoor exercise is still permitted, but should be limited to once per day
  • Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch)
  • Organised and structured outdoor sporting activity must not take place
  • All indoor and outdoor sports clubs, centres, venues and facilities will need to close
Solo paddles or with your household, in local areas only..

Paddling for exercise is permitted within the government measures, so long as you are:

  • Solo 
  • Paddling with people you live with 
  • With your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
  • When on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing and I would advise no sharing of equipment

Personal equipment – It has been confirmed that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted.

Canal and River Trust’s website stating the navigations are open for paddle sports..

Main Guidance Notes:

Social distancing – Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household. It sounds daft but I would take a face covering out on the board, some people may be isolating on a boat or barge – you just never know..

Outdoor exercise limits – Exercise should be limited to once per day. It is clearly stated on the Gov.uk site under Exercising.

Travel – Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch).

Waterways licence – Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. This is paramount as always, regardless of the license provider.

British Canoeing website and their Guidance

“If you break the rules…”

“The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices)”.

“You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000” – This is a direct extract from the Government website.

Probably the most Solo paddle I can show you!

Be sensible, those paddles will wait. There is absolutely no need to go exploring right now. Much like the first Lockdown – we are advising Stay at Home and to follow government guidance. You should not be attending waterways you do not know, which in turn could cause further, unnecessary stress on the NHS… Be sensible.

In my opinion and this isn’t guidance..

We are in a National Lockdown so you must follow the Government rules whether you agree or not – not Facebook, not some chaps on Instagram – the Police will simple say you aren’t following the rules and fine you as explained above. Some people will have to accept they cannot paddle right now – harsh reality, but true. Many people that paddle are land locked and cannot get to the waterways – there are other forms of exercise. Looking at the guidance of ‘local’, I would say in your village, or within walking distance.. Driving 15-20+ minutes for water isn’t local, a couple of miles within the same town would seem acceptable but I’ll try to get clarification on this..

When we get more updates through @StandUpPaddleUK we will share them and I will update this post!

Ciao, Darren