RSPB ‘Active in Nature’ officer Martin Rendle gives us a taste of a whole new way to experience the watery world of The Broads...


6.30 am on a warm bright summer’s morning and out on the water in the Norfolk Broads about to embark on a little pre-work adventure before the river gets busy with boaters, as it does around these parts at this time of year.



Photo credit: Ben Hall


But I’m not in a motor cruiser or sailboat, or even a canoe or kayak. No, for me there no better way to navigate the waterways than standing up on my SUP board and exploring the rivers and broads, soaking up the atmosphere – and sometimes getting a soaking – views and of course amazing nature that inhabits our beautiful area.


A SUP board I hear you say – what on earth is one of those?


SUP is an abbreviation for ‘Stand Up Paddleboard’. It’s superficially like a wind-surf board, but specially designed to be stood on while you propel yourself with a single long paddle, changing strokes from side to side in order to keep in a straight line. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do the rewards are well worth the effort!


One of the huge advantages of paddling a SUP is the fact that you’re standing up. Think you’d rather be sitting down in something more boat shaped and with more between you and the water? Think again! From my elevated position I can see right over the top of the reeds and down into the crystal clear waters below, giving me a perfect 360 degree view of nature, both above and below the water.


This particular morning, as I quietly glided past reeds which were softly whispering in the mooring breeze, I was in for some thrilling encounters – some rarer than others, but all of them special.

Photo credit: Andy Hay


My first was of course with the plethora of ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl that inhabit that area and to be fair are a wonderful and common sight, however what happened next was quite remarkable. As I was looking down into the water, a Pike flicked it’s tail and sped under my board from left to right – this little speeding bullet was on a mission and was after breakfast I’m sure!  Then moments after this I heard a noise in the air and as I looked up (trying to upset my balance too much!) I saw two marsh harriers dancing in the air with each other, displaying as only they can.


Photo credit: Ben Hall


Photo credit: Ben Andrew 


I watched these two raptors for a while and was quite mesmerised by their grace, chasing, gliding and soaring around the vast blue back-lit skies – what a wonderful experience!

Photo credit: Ben Hall


After all this excitement and interactions with so much nature right on my doorstep, it was time to head back and get ready for my day at work, but what a way to start the day!



Book your own SUPer experience in The Broads

The RSPB is has teamed up with Whitlingham Outdoor Education centre to offer introductory Stand Up Paddleboarding session on six dates between April and September this year.


The first RSPB SUP experience of the year takes place on Saturday 22 April and there are still a limited number of places available, so if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try a new way of getting active in nature, book your Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Email or phone 01630 715191.



Get Active in Nature in The Broads

Through their Active in Nature partnership, the RSPB and Sport England are offering new and exciting ways for people of all ages and abilities to experience nature, from Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) to Nordic walking, and kayaking to running.

Find out more about the Active in Nature project and activities at