The Salcombe/Kingsbridge Estuary is a picturesque body of water located in the South West of England in an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB). There are some stunning coastal walks and views surround this estuary but its real highlight has to be the miles of creeks and coves within the relative shelter of the natural harbour, making it a perfect place to SUP in the south west.
Salcombe is a popular destination and has all the charms of the Mediterranean with clear waters and golden beaches, it also benefits from a micro climate which allows the growth of tropical plants not found anywhere else in the UK. Locally it is known as Sunny Salcombe, it just may be a little cooler at certain times of year!
The formation of the Estuary means there is always a nice sheltered spot to SUP and plenty see and explore en route, planning the tides means you can also make an exploration day much easier allowing you the casually cruise along and soak up the scenery.
There are 40km of to creeks paddle around and an abundance of wildlife such as seals, cormorants, kingfishers, egrets, bass, grey mullet, place, seahorses, and a pod of dolphins has also previously been spotted around the harbour too!
The scenery changes on every section of this paddle as well as at different times of the year.
In the summer, vibrant greenery surrounds you with a bustling atmosphere on and off the water. Autumn brings the oranges and browns and low lying light hitting the water creating amazing reflections on those calm glassy days.
Winter feels peaceful with little water activity from other boats, you can truly lose yourself in your thoughts concentrating on the sound of the water. Spring brings the rebirth of life and rich colours return with nesting birds and the hope of warmer and longer days to enjoy the SUP adventures for a new year.
This really is a beautiful place to paddle board, all year round.
- .Launch from either North or South Sands in Salcombe and head up the river in a northerly direction for 2km. If you stay on the right hand side there are plenty of golden beaches to stop off at on the way to either take it all in, go for a dip or just to wiggle your toes in the sand!
- .The heart of Salcombe will appear on your left, go a little further until you see plenty of yacht masts and houses in the far distance (Kingsbridge) paddle across to this area which is called ‘The Bag’
- .There are plenty of pontoons and coves you can stop in as your travel through the bag for around 1km, you will then get to a wider expanse of water know as ‘Widegates’. The choice to go to Blanksmill, Collapit or Frogmore are options for another day if desired from here.
- .You should notice a boatyard on your left (Lincombe) and also some red and white poles on the left hand side in the water, these mark the channels and will lead you all the way up to Kingsbridge (3km) following the deepest water. (Keep them on your left)
- .Kingsbridge has an assortment of shops and cafes and some great pubs, The Crabshell Inn has a pontoon for SUPers to use courtesy of Waterborn and it is a great spot for a spot for lunch before your return journey on the tide.
There is some parking located around the North Sands area.
Launch from North or South Sands in Salcombe.
Or you can easily do this route in reverse with an early morning breakfast paddle from Kingsbridge to Salcombe, Captain Morgan’s at Whitestrand in the town centre or The Winking Prawn at North Sands are good breakfast stops!
If you want a guided tour of the wrecks and deep history of the Estuary then the staff at Waterborn offer SUP tours so you don’t miss a thing! They specialise in beginner lessons and hire is also available for those that have SUPed before.
Things to know
- This route is on a working estuary so keep an eye out for traffic on the water and around the edges too, there are handfuls of old lime kilns that used to be use in industrial side of Salcombe’s history.
- It is essential that you check the tides prior to setting off to make sure you have enough water to get too/from your given location.
- 'Widegates' is prone to wind conditions, most other locations are fairly sheltered depending on the direction of the wind.