It took maybe five minutes of reading through Jo Moseley’s lovely guide before I was on Google searching for paddleboards on sale. After a stunning evening last summer meandering around our local coast with some friends, I’ve been keen to buy my own board and gear, but in all honesty I’ve felt quite overwhelmed by trying to work out what I needed.
Thank goodness for this book! Before getting to the routes, there’s a really helpful introduction section which covers how to get started, what equipment and kit you might need, how to plan a day out and what aspects to consider to keep yourself and anyone you’re out with safe on the water. There’s a lot to cover in not much space, but the advice is accessible for anyone who’s a complete beginner like myself, and includes some handy tips for those more experienced as well. There’s also a brief history of the sport which I found fascinating; it’s astonishing to see how quickly it has grown in popularity.
Paddleboarding is an unusual sport in that it’s very easy to head out by yourself with little experience, but surprisingly easy to suddenly find yourself in trouble if you time the tides wrong or get caught out by a quick current. There’s a good amount of advice on weather and tides to consider in this guide, and also plenty of links to further resources for anyone who wants to learn more.
Having seen first-hand how many problems a sudden influx of visitors can bring to a usually quiet area, I always feel slightly wary opening guidebooks now in case another quiet and remote spot is about to suddenly become incredibly popular. Thankfully Jo explains that she has intentionally avoided mentioned anywhere that’s ‘secret’ or where the local community wouldn’t be able to handle an increase in parking.
The rest of the book reads as part-guidebook, part-memoir. Jo takes a few pages recounting her own experience of paddling each route before giving all the information you’ll need to do the route itself: the distance, difficulty level, how to get there, local places for refreshments, and details for local instruction and kit hire. Jo’s warmth, enthusiasm and good humour shines through in every page and makes this such an enjoyable read. I also really appreciated her honesty in re-telling her experiences. She doesn’t shy away from explaining when weather or conditions have led to a change of plan; on a brief trip to Mull, she accepts that it’s not a good day for paddleboarding. Maybe this is really the most helpful information anyone can take from this book: understanding that some days it just isn’t right to head out on the water, and having the confidence to choose the safer option of staying home when it’s necessary.
The routes are divided up by country, and are all accompanied by beautiful photos. They’re nicely spaced out around the UK and cover a variety of distances and difficulty levels. I’m looking forward to taking this guide up to Scotland with me on a holiday in a few months (by which time I will hopefully have sorted myself out and bought a paddleboard!) so that I can explore some lovely places up there without having to spend hours researching them myself. It’s definitely a handy guide for anyone keen to explore new paddleboarding locations around the UK or who just travels a lot.
This is a stunning guide which really demonstrates the potential of paddleboarding for taking you to beautiful, remote places. It’s definitely re-ignited my desire to get out paddleboarding more this summer, and to spend more time in this lovely watery world that Jo shares.
(With thanks to Jo and the lovely folk at Vertebrate Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.