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Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

4 july 2018

An inspirational story by Kris Roach

Stand Up Paddling is versatile and can be done literally everywhere, just as long as there’s water around. Combine this with the fact that you can easily travel with an inflatable paddle board and you have the two key ingredients for the story of Kris Roach. Kris is a true outdoor adventurer and challenged himself to SUP remote mountain lakes within the UK. Read on and get inspired by this story written by Kris!

The goal

“I want to push what is possible with an inflatable SUP. That’s why I set the goal to be the first person to hike to the highest point in the UK with an inflatable SUP and then paddle at the highest lake. The mountains offer you a real challenge every time you hike. It does take effort hiking with your board, which is what makes SUPing in the mountains a great challenge. But in the end it rewards you with stunning views.”

“After I successfully completed this adventure, I pushed myself again and took this adventure to all the remote mountains in Wales. In the end, these are the mountains I hiked and paddled:”
  • Llyn y fan Fawr (The Black Mountains) paddled at 605 Meters
  • Llyn Cwm LLwch (Pen-Y-Fan, Brecon Beacons) paddled at 569 Meters
  • Llyn Cau (Cadair Idris, Snowdonia) paddled at 350 Meters
  • Llyn Glaslyn after Summiting Snowdon paddled at 600 and summited
  • England – Lake District
  • Red Tarn (Helvelyn) paddled at 718M and summited
  • Scotland- Fort Williams
  • Half way lake (Ben Nevis) paddled at 570M and summited

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Why did you choose this goal

“Nothing beats paddling in the mountains to be able to experience a real sense of escaping the crowds. Heading off with an inflatable SUP truly is an awesome way to get out adventuring. I’ve started so many times hiking in sunshine and then minutes later, I can be in high winds, thick fog or even snow. It can be a real escape in the mountains. Adventure is out there if you’re willing to go after it.”
Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Preparations for a trip in the mountains

“Plan your route, always tell someone where you plan to go, be aware of the forecast, be safe, respect the mountains and paddle/hike with a friend. Most importantly, do not put yourself at risk. You don’t want to be calling for mountain rescue!”

“Furthermore I’d recommend being confident in the mountains and prepared for a change in weather. Helvelyn was the best example of this. When I left the carpark in boiling hot sunshine and reached the submit in cold fog and drizzly raining, I then had to navigate a small stretch down across a ridge, which when you add a paddle board can really affect your balance. 3 Points of contact definitely come into practice at this point. You need to confident in your own ability and pack your back with clothing for every weather conditions and water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.”

“Lastly, I’m sure its obvious but its so important, plan for the weather! I use the 3 layer system with all my hikes as the weather can change so fast. I use the Met Office app to plan. OS map app. Your phone is important in case of emergency. Keep it warm as they turn off in minus temperatures – as I have learnt! Obviously a phone doesn’t replace a compass and a map if you’re not familiar of the area, so do learn to use those.”

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

My Gear

“I hiked to all these locations with my iSUP ( Jobe 11’6 Duna). I chose the Jobe primarily because of the weight as my goal was to hike with it and it was put to the test on my 10 mile hike on Ben Nevis. When all packed up the complete package weighs only 11.5kg. It makes it perfect for hiking and exploring. The bag has been excellent because there is plenty of room in the front pocket to pack hiking essentials. The bag doubles as a dry bag, which has been a lifesaver keeping additional layers dry for my hike back from the lakes. When packed away it fits easily into the boot of my car so when camping its safe, especially when you head off to the pub after a day of exploring!
It also falls under the hold luggage requirements of most airlines so no extra costs when you want to take it along to explore more of the world.”

The journey

“My journey so far has been spectacular, amazing, and rewarding. Here’s a short recap of the adventures:”

Lyn y Fan fawr
It all started with snow capped mountains and a part frozen lake in early Febuary 2018 at Lyn y Fan fawr with my friend Mathew. I can’t even put into words how amazing and surreal it was to paddle in snowy conditions!

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Cwm Llwch
This was a closely followed by a hike to Cwm Llwch, which lies just beneath Penyfan, the highest mountain in south wales and right on my doorstep.

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Lyn Cau
The next trip was to North Wales, ultimately to submit the highest mountain in Wales but first, for a quick pit stop at Lyn Cau, which sits just below Cadair Idris. This lake was one of the easiest to hike to. It’s a steep accent but relatively short with a well-established path. You feel like your paddling in a giant bowl, which is essentially what it is, carved by a glacier moving back and forth thousands of years ago. It almost feels staged as it feel a little too perfect, surrounded by steep dramatic sides and floating on crystal clear water, view into the water is as stunning as the mountain view itself.

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Llyn Glaslyn & Snowdon
Now, I was ready to tackle Snowdon, this is the highest mountain in Wales at 1085m. The Hike began in thick fog and drizzly rain, I decided to take a circular route so walked the Pyg track up and the miners track back down so as to pass Llyn Glaslyn. Despite the initial fog and rain, upon reaching the summit my efforts were rewarded by a brief yet epic view above the clouds. The assent back down however was not so lucky, with the fog making a return visit, with my mind still set on paddling Llyn Glaslyn I was initially disappointed as the fog once again engulfed the mountain and the lake. However, what I would now say is, if you haven’t paddled in fog it’s a must! It is an unbelievable sensation. I cannot wait to get back to Snowdonia to hike the never ending playground of mountain lakes.

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

Scafell & Helvellyn
Onto England, initially I had Scafell in my sights as the highest peak but after a little research I discovered that Helvellyn was on 28m less and had the added bonus of a higher lake. One of my toughest Hikes. Everything seemed to go wrong on this hike, we arrived and had forgotten to pack any water but luckily there were empty bottles in the car which were easy to refill. The bad luck didn’t stop there unfortunately. We didn’t anticipate the hike to take as long as it did and hadn’t packed food. Energy levels were at an all-time low after 4hrs. The weather threw everything at me, we started in the sun and boiling heat but as we neared to submit high winds and the fog rolled in. I hoped for clear views at the lake but just like my paddle at Llyn Glaslyn(Snowdon),I paddled into the fog. As already mentioned there is something quite special about paddling in the fog, but a view now and then wouldn’t go a miss. To top it off the rocks are razor sharp as I discovered getting out of the lake.
All that aside the Red Tarn lake, in the shadow of Helvellyn, is the highest I’ve paddled. On reflection it was challenging but definitely a mountain and lake ill re visit. Check out my photos of the sramble on the ridge. As they say a picture paints a thousand words.

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

The biggest challenge: Ben Nevis

Now for my biggest challenge, Scotland, and the almighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain not only in Scotland but the UK at 1,345 M. Not only is it the highest mountain I have climbed but it is also the one that you actually climb from the bottom to the top, starting at just 20m above sea level.

Well … first of all don’t drink the night before hiking up the highest mountain in the UK with a paddle board on your back, regardless of how light it is.

So to set the scene the camp fire was going and I had a few drinks with friends which lead to a late night. Can you blame me with a clear night and views of BEN NEVIS?!? This set my challenge up to a difficult start and the weather didn’t help with 20+ degrees in the initial accent which starts at 20M. Ill be honest I wanted to leave the board at the half way lake and continue the rest of the hike without it…

Thanks to my friend Mathew Roche who gave me the best kind of support I’m used to. He told me to get on with it as the bag isn’t that heavy so I cracked on. The weather soon changed after the half way point and started to layer up as we left sun and blue skies behind. We went up into the fog engulfed peak. Temperatures began to drop and we were greeted by snow, as we reached the summit and bared right we had a break in the fog which delivered an unbelievable view. We Summited and had the generic photo and after a short break made our way back down.

Soon after heading off I hit a brick wall and I was sick then carried on, I was so focused on paddling the lake this didn’t hold me back. The accent felt longer than the Hike up. With all the loose rocks it made it challenging and slowed us down. When we reached the lake it was stunning. Blue skies again! The sun was out the water was crystal clear. Our very own VIP lake to SUP. It looked like an infinity roof top pool in the clouds. It was a bit of a novelty to not be paddling in thick fog, rain, or snow.
Ben Nevis, Scotland is incredible. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Would I do it again with a paddle board. Yes! Why not.

Outdoor Stand Up Paddling adventures

"I want to thank my Girl Friend Emma Meyrick because she has joined me on nearly all trips and has taken photos and has hiked with me capturing my SUP adventures. She been great support!"

Thanks Kris for this inspirational story! Let us know what you think about this story by leaving a comment on the Facebook message below.

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