The best way to see the River Dart and now your dog can come too!

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The best way to see the River Dart and now your dog can come too!

Getting out to enjoy our beautiful River Dart is one of the great pleasures of life, being able to do it almost silently with an instructor who knows not only their sport, but also the natural world around you, makes it magical. 

This is what you get when you go out with Alana Bonnick or one of her team from The Paddle Shack. Alana is a trained marine biologist and started the business in 2017 when she wanted a low-impact way of showing off the stunning wildlife of the South Hams, without an engine getting in the way.

“I was working with Dartmouth Great Escapes”, Alana explained, “and I was teaching people all about the marine environments, completing seal surveys and wildlife tours, but with the engine on the boat, nothing we saw was behaving naturally or normally. 

“I compared this to when I was out on my stand up paddleboard or in a kayak. The seals dance around you and it's so natural and low impact - plus it’s really good for you too!”

Paddleboarding around Dartmouth Castle is a real treat - The Paddle Shack 

This is how The Paddle Shack was born. Getting away from the noise pollution and being able to show off the natural wonders of the River Dart. Not only do you see wildlife behaving more naturally, but because it is not being scared off by a boat engine, you see more of it! 

When it comes to relaxing sports, Alana says there is nothing better than Stand Up Paddleboarding. “I love it for so many elements”, she explained, “the relaxation and the fitness, plus you can enjoy being in your own space and leave all your worries behind when you’re on the water. 

“It really is great exercise too, you can really feel it toning up your abs, glutes and thighs. It's just the best way to get fit and healthy as well as taking in all the sights. You can find hidden coves, beat the crowds and find little secret spots that can only be accessed by the water. It's amazing.”

Whether you have never stood on a paddleboard before or if you are an experienced SUP boarder, The Paddle Shack has got something for you. Alana and her team can teach you how to Stand Up Paddleboard and within an hour-and-a-half they will have you feeling in control of the board and you will be happy manoeuvring on the water. Once you have got to grips with the board, you can go and explore the stunning scenery along the River Dart.

If you are experienced, you can rent SUP boards from their base in Coronation Park, Dartmouth, but what you really need to do is take advantage of The Paddle Shack’s ‘Adventure SUP’ sessions. Take a guided paddle up river or out to sea, explore hidden creeks, beach on secret coves for lunch, build a fire and toast some marshmallows - and spot the wildlife on the way. What could be better?

Exploring hidden places on the River Dart - The Paddle Shack

If you fancy something a little more decadent, The Paddle Shack can provide that too with their ‘Sip and SUP’ package. Get on board and paddle up the River Dart to the beautiful riverside town of Dittisham. Along the way you can enjoy the wildlife, explore hidden creeks and discover wild places. When you arrive in Dittisham you can enjoy a spot of lunch, a nice cold beverage or hot drink from the famous Ferry Boat Inn. Once you have enjoyed your delicious lunch you can get the ferry back to Dartmouth, with your return ticket included in the package, and the best bit - The Paddle Shack takes care of your boards and equipment, so no worrying about that, it is all taken care of! 

Doggy Paddling with The Paddle Shack

New to 2021 is The Paddle Shack’s new venture, ‘Doggy Paddle’, for you and your four-legged best friend! Dogs can really enjoy paddleboarding and this is your opportunity to see how your pooch takes to the sport,  while you’re both in safe hands. The Paddle Shack will take you to Warfleet Cove, a very quiet and shallow area near Dartmouth Castle. Here you can take the opportunity to have a test run at SUPing with your dog. 

Alana explained: “We start off on the beach, getting the dogs used to the boards and getting on them (with the help of some yummy treats!) and once they are comfortable we can take them out on the water with you kneeling and your dog sitting right in front of you or in your lap. They get used to it very quickly, I’ve never had a dog flat-out refuse to try it and by the end of it, they all love it!”

The Paddle Shack is a Academy of Surfing Instructors accredited school, all of Alana’s four instructors are ASI qualified and they are also covered by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, so you have peace of mind knowing they are the real deal. 

All the boards and equipment is included in The Paddle Shack’s packages (except for doggy lifejackets for the Doggy Paddle sessions, which you have to provide) but spaces fill up two weeks in advance, so book now to avoid disappointment! For more information and to book your space, check out The Paddle Shack’s website: www.thepaddleshack.co.uk

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