Think of SUP on the sea and you’ll probably have numerous “down south” locations spring to mind. We’ve all seen them on Instagram and they really do look amazing. Head up the M5/M6 and unless you’re from the North West, you’ll probably struggle to think of more than a few potential spots.
There are some cracking locations to be found though, and because some aren’t traditionally touristy, you don’t have to worry about sharing the beach with crowds of people.
This is a great location for SUP on the sea, especially if you’re a beginner. There’s a large window of SUP time as the sea doesn’t really go far out until quite close to low tide. Thanks to it’s location it’s quite protected from any major swell (unless thare’s a big storm coming). This may not appeal much to those who enjoy getting in surf and riding big waves, but if you’re after that, you’ll probably be heading off to somewhere in Wales. There are also a number of large manmade breakwaters which help calm the side-on waves to the beach. This can result in one partiular breakwater, at the right tide time being a “mini lagoon”. Shallow and calm enough to have a sit down. Ideal during the summer to relax at sea.
If however you do fancy taking on some waves, keep an eye on the swell report and when it’s right, head down to waterfront carpark at “The Gunsite” as you can get some nice learner waves that aren’t too big and come in between the breakwaters. Ideal for the learner SUP surfer.
New Brighton to Hoylake
If you fancy trying some distance sea paddling, then this is a good place to try. Starting near New Brighton at the Harrison drive waterfront car park where the water comes in first. Head west towards Hoylake as the tide is coming in. You’ll head round a number of breakwaters and during the Summer, pass a few of the Wirral RNLI stations on the way. After about 4K you’ll enter Hoylake’s shallow waters with a number of small boats moored up. If you try this on a high tide you’ll be able to paddle further down, past the lifeboat station. Maybe even to where Hoylake starts to end at the “Lighthouse”. Still got the energy, you could continue straight on to…
Hilbre island / Down the Dee
One for the brave. The three small islands of Hilbre sit out in the mouth of the Dee estuary just under 2KM from shore. Distance-wise it’s definitely paddlable. It is one for the more experienced sea paddler as the tidal currents on the estuary can catch you out. Time it right, and as you round the island, the incoming tide will carry you to West Kirby and possibly further. Just make sure you have transport waiting for you wherever you end up or you’ll be getting a few funny looks on the train back to New Brighton. A minimum two person/two vehicle paddle for sure.
West Kirby Marine Lake
I’m not necessarily massive fan of marine lakes, mainly due to restrictions and launch fees which are put in place. This is an exception though. West Kirby marine lake was constructed, in such a way that it resembles an infinity pool at high tide as it juts out into the Dee estuary with a small walkway around it’s perimeter. This coupled with it’s location can lead to some spectacular paddles, especially when the sun is setting over the sea and the tide is in. The only drawback in the relativly high launch fee of £10.50 for the whole day, but this is reduced to £6.30 for the last four hours the sailing centre is open. Definitely one to try at least once if only just for the sunsets.
New Brighton Marine Lake
Unlike the West Kirby’s marine lake, this one is currently at time of writing free to use. The only catch is you need to apply in advance for a permit (free) from the local council and the car park is becoming pay & display in the near future. New Brighton is smaller and less picturesque than West Kirby due to a large wall around the full perimeter, but it is very convenient if you just fancy a quick paddle after work one evening or don’t fancy taking on a rougher sea beyond the wall. Turn up, jump on, paddle to relax and unwind or get a few laps in as training. It’s also got Marine Point at the West End so you can pack up and then catch a film or something to eat as a reward post paddle. On a summer’s evening you will also potentially be entertaining the alfresco diners overlooking the lake should you end up in the drink! It’s a good spot for the learner but less so for the views with the Liverpool docks just over the river. Having said all this though, New Brighton marine lake has a special place in the heart of every Wirral SUPer as we’ve all appreciated the opportunity to have a local non tidal body of water to use whenever the weather allows.
A side note about the River Mersey, sitting there between Wirral and Liverpool, tempting every paddler who visits. “It doesn’t look that far to the other side”. From a distance on a calm day The River Mersey can look deceptively flat. Beware though as it has extremely strong currents, sandbanks and lots of marine traffic. Paddle out past the breakwaters and you would find yourself in a whole lot of trouble.
With all the other locations on the Wirral peninsula, there’s no real need to consider the River Mersey to get your SUP fix.
So next time you’re heading over to Rhosneigr, or up the M6 to the Lakes. Take a little Diversion and say hello to some of Wirral’s SUP spots.