We’ve been eyeing up a stand up paddle board trip to from Southport to Blackpool since around February last year. Conditions and timing has never been right before but this weekend, after an aborted surf trip due to the current erratic weather, we were all in need of a decent paddle.
One day after spring tide meant a high enough tide to bring the sea all the way into Southport (most of the month the pier is dry), a light southerly wind and minimum swell forecast and all looked good. We planned a journey back by train, but were saved at least 3 changes by Alan’s Dad, John, and Liz who kindly spent the day in Blackpool to meet us when we arrived.
Like some of our previous trips that have involved train travel, hiking and taxis, this was a paddle we could only undertake on our inflatable Red Paddle Co SUP boards. There aren’t many luggage racks or taxis in the UK that could accommodate three 10-12 foot six boards! Simon was on his new 2014 12’6″ Elite race board, Lucy on the 12’6″ Race and Alan on our new 2014 10’6″ Ride for its maiden voyage.
We started at the pier so that we could take on the ‘5 Pier Challenge’, passing Southport, Lytham St Annes, Blackpool South, Central and North piers. There were some good waves off the end of the pier but it wasn’t tempting enough at that stage when we had a long paddle in front of us. The journey took us across the mouth of the river Ribble at the turning of the tide and it wasn’t easy going. The following/slightly cross wind was light and not enough to create swell in the direction of travel, so we were constantly paddling across the waves. Simon on the elite race board, which is only 26” wide, took a couple of early dunkings, and Lucy managed one.
Blackpool Tower got steadily bigger as we crossed the worst of the turbulent water, then we hit smaller, but faster waves at Lytham St Annes, where Simon and Lucy hit the water again. It was a paddle of two halves – one across the wide river mouth which felt like we were nearly done, but then it was another 10km from Lytham all the way to the tower. Between the piers there was some nice clean waves so we sneaked in a quick, surf session – a good test of the new race board and Simon’s skills! The surf was excellent between the north and south piers – we’ll be back to paddle in especially for a Blackpool surf session another time. It may have been January, but it was fantastic weather and hard to understand why no one else would be on the water.
We surfed the last wave in right in front of Blackpool Tower, radioed in to let Liverpool Coastguard know we had arrived safely, and reluctantly got off the water. An amusing changing session by John’s van followed – on this occasion we were the only half-naked people on the promenade in Blackpool, but probably not the first or last.
SUP Southport pier to Blackpool, Five Piers Challenge done.