nene local | helen dawson


Category: Nene Local Outdoors

Nene Valley SUP Encourage Fun on the River

Nene Valley SUP loaned Nene Local Magazine a couple of paddle boards – here’s how we got on.

This July I attended a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) evening of SUP and meditation.  I was nervous but excited to try SUP but found I loved it!  Living by the River Nene, I soon found there is quite a few small businesses set up for SUP around here.

One such business is Nene Valley SUP, who contacted Nene Local Magazine to see if we’d like to take a look at what they offer.

We booked August 6th as our date try out Nene Valley SUP.  They do SUP lessons and group paddles, but we tried the board hire.  I was told I could pick up my board between 8-9am, they do deliver but as I only lived in the next town, I came out to pick up our two boards.

Nene Valley SUP

Board collection in progress…

The two very large bags contained all we needed.  Inflatable paddleboard, detachable fins, collapsible paddle, repair kit – just in case, strap to tie you to the board (so it can’t float away if you fall off), plus a full manual.  the manual not only has full instructions on how to inflate and how to get started, it also has things like safety advice and river etiquette for if you see a boat.  Nene Valley SUP also supply buoyancy aids which should be worn.

I was meeting my friend at 2pm, so I thought I would try pumping up a board this morning just to see how it was, for this article.  The instructions are good and easy to follow.  The pump is a very good pump, as it’s quite tricky to pump the last bits of air into the board to make it sturdy – a good pump is essential.

Pumping the inflatable SUP is easy and quick, until you get to almost done. Of course, it needs the maximum amount of air in it for it to be solid enough and not give under your weight.  A solid board is nice and stable.

On the pump there’s a gauge to show how pumped up it needs to be.

We met at The Woolpack Inn in Thrapston, where there is an EA 48 hour mooring with a shallow enough edge to get in.  Caroline and I pumped up our boards.  To get to the correct Psi (on the gauge on the pump) was tough, I think with practise we would improve, but it took us around an half an hour to blow them up.  It was a muggy, hot day so we had quite a workout before we started.

Nene Valley SUP

A workout in itself!

Both of us had previously been on paddleboards in the group paddle, so knew a little about what we were doing.  Although, the manual fully explains how to launch your paddle board.

Our paddle took us from the Woolpack to Denford Lock and back.  Around 2.4 miles.  You can take your paddle boards and go wherever you wish on your days hire. The ideal, especially for beginners, is to paddle up stream first, as on your return you’re more tired and so it’s helpful to have the addition of the current to take you along.

We negotiated the fishermen in the reeds, all were good natured, and we could chat as we paddled by.  There were also four narrowboats coming along at various intervals, we tended to stop and hold the reeds while they passed, but as we get more experienced, I’m sure we’ll just keep going along.

As you paddle, it’s so lovely and peaceful.  Watching fish jumping in the water, dragonflies hitching a cheeky ride on the board, swans regally floating by at eye level…sometimes you’re close enough to your buddy to chat and other times you’re floating and paddling ahead.  I’m sure I speak for Caroline too when I say I didn’t once think of anything other than what I was doing.  At this present time with all that’s on the news and going on in the world I was amazed at my own mindful thoughts.

Nene Valley SUP

Our paddle took us back to the Woolpack Inn, as we’d locked everything we didn’t need in our car, that was parked there.  We returned to the place we’d launched and attempted to get out.  Our arms and legs were pretty tired at this point, and I would warn that getting out can be tricky for a beginner.  Of course, getting out with a great lack of elegance made us laugh, and this in turn made it even more difficult to get out.  We must have looked quite a site!

Nene Valley SUP

Tired yet grinning!

We wiped our boards dry, rolled them up and popped them back in the bag, with all the other equipment ready for me to return them to Nene Valley SUP.

We were hugely tired but grinning from ear to ear after a brilliant afternoon!  If you’re a different fitness level you can paddle further or less far accordingly, so you don’t have to wear yourself out if you don’t want to.

Nene Valley SUP is a relaxed company, having fun is top priority.  They supply all you need for a fabulous day out, the instruction manual is easy to follow, and everything is quite straightforward.  They’ll even supply a ‘dry bag’ if you want to take a picnic out with you.  We took water, which I would highly recommend!Nene Valley SUP


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Tranquility Time Paddling Along the River Nene

Tranquility Time and River Spirit SUP team up for an evening of relaxation…

Nene Local Magazine went on an adventure on Monday evening.  Here at the magazine we are an outdoorsy family and have kayaked in the past and love our boating – Helen from Nene Local says “I’d spotted people on paddle boards from the boat before and knew I wanted to try it.”

Time for Tranquility Retreats had partnered with River Spirit SUP (Stand up Paddle Boarding) to put on an evening paddle along the River Nene, along with a floating meditation.  Our time began by being added to a Messenger group so we could be given direction and instructions on what to wear, what to bring etc.

So by the time we arrived at the venue in Ringstead, we had all ‘met’ each other in messenger.  Lyndz did her demo and safety instructions whilst Sue got us to fill out our forms.

Paddleboarding | nene local

Our valuables, like phones and car keys were safely stowed away in the building and we put on our buoyancy aids.  We were all given a paddle board and paddle and invited safely, one by one into the water – at this point we were kneeling on the paddle boards as we were all beginners.

Up stream first as this is the most tiring direction, we paddled along next to the ducks and the occasional heron, for around half a mile.  It was a windy evening so fighting the current and the wind provided an excellent work out!

As we turned the bend into a more sheltered part of the river we lined up and posed for some photos.  Personally, I thought the balance and steering was quite doable, tricky at times but not too difficult. I’d been anxious during the day but needn’t have worried, as I loved it.

There is a great oak tree near the lock we had paddled to, and we congregated under the tree, lay on our boards and Susan took us on a wonderfully relaxing,  guided meditation.   Lyndz oversaw that no one floated away as we were all lying down with our eyes closed.  It was surprisingly easy to relax.

We did have a rainstorm on our way back, but we laughed our way through it and soldiered on regardless.  Our return paddle was easier being downstream and most of us had a go at standing up on the board.  Lyndz expertly got us having a go and facing any nervousness we had.

Standing for me will certainly need a bit more practice but I was glad I had a go.

My evening paddle might just have sparked a new hobby for me…….


For more information

River Spirit SUP Facebook:

Time for Tranquility Facebook:


Nene Valley Featured on BBC Countryfile

Destination Nene Valley was delighted to work with presenters of BBC Countryfile earlier this month when they filmed an episode dedicated to the area which was screened on Sunday, 21st February.


Viewers of the flagship countryside programme watched scenes filmed in the stunning landscape surrounding the River Nene in Northamptonshire, looking at the flooding in the area, its impact on local communities and how the river has shaped the lives of the people and wildlife who live beside it.

nene wetlands

In the programme, Tom Heap was shown exploring the Nene Valley, which stretches from the county town of Northampton through to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, discovering how farmer John Gent works with the natural ebb and flow of the river and has embraced wetland wildlife to make his land sustainable. Tom also gets hands-on with a project that has unearthed evidence of riverside residents dating back to Neolithic times.
Helena Darragh, Nene Valley Land Adviser for The Wildlife Trust in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire, appears on the programme. She said: “I was speaking from floodplain farmland near Oundle, where in 2019 we carried out wet grassland improvement work for wading birds as part of the Farming for the Future project. The features were created to attract lapwing, snipe, redshank. Unfortunately, the flooding this year meant that the shallow V-shaped ditches we dug with the RSPB’s rotary ditcher were totally underwater, meaning the wet grassland habitat was too soggy for waders to be seen on the day, but demonstrates how the ditches fill up with floodwater, and then retain this water once the floodwater has receded.


“It also shows the carrying capacity of floodplain meadows to hold floodwater – much of which has been lost due to development pressures and intensive agriculture over the past decades.”

Destination Nene Valley is the official tourism body for the area, funded by East Northamptonshire Council, working closely with the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme. Nenescape is a five-year National Lottery Heritage Fund initiative, which is delivering a number of partnership-led projects tasked with promoting and protecting the heritage of the Nene Valley. Farming for the Future is one of these projects, which involves working with farmers and landowners in the Nene Valley to help restore and create meadow and wetland habitats, as well as undertake vital infrastructural improvements to tackle diffuse pollution and aid water quality, such as the one featured in the Countryfile episode.


Cllr Sarah Peacock, chairman of Destination Nene Valley which was instrumental in bringing the Nene Valley to the small screen said: “I thought the programme did us proud. It highlighted how, in under 40 years, we have uncovered the biggest archaeological site in the country, completed incredible conservation work, reduced flooding and continue to benefit the current settlers of the Nene Valley for future generations.


“Destination Nene Valley is committed to promoting the area as an incredible place to visit, work and live and we hope Countryfile has inspired visitors to discover our hidden valley and all it has to offer.”


Amanda Johnson, Project Manager at Nenescape, said: “We are so grateful to BBC Countryfile for recognising the hard work that is going into restoring and conserving the natural flood plains along the River Nene. Farming for the future, alongside our partner project Resilient River, bring together landowners, wetland managers and charitable trusts to ensure the valley does what it was naturally intended to do by our ancestors and is conserved for generations to come.”


Another Nenescape project that was featured last night was Settlers of the Nene Valley, a three-year project, telling the stories of the people who settled in the Nene Valley over the last 5000 years, from Neolithic to Medieval. Working with local communities and schools, the project has explored, recreated and celebrated the lives of those settlers as they travelled, settled and traded along the river. The project is run by the Rockingham Forest Trust, an environmental charity which has been connecting people and places for over 20 years.


Settlers of the Nene Project Manager, Becky Gill said: “The project has allowed us, working with the local community, to better understand how previous settlers would have lived and how the river would have influenced their lives.”


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Tranquility Time Awaits You…

Yesterday I went on a little adventure, I headed out towards Sharnbrook, took a turn which said ‘art gallery’ and found a little oasis of calm; artists, a café where you can play games, therapists and more….plus….

The Self Care Space brought to you by Tranquility Time Retreats

The space is a cosy room for guided meditations, yoga, workshops and more.  Currently open for one on one sessions but as Covid allows the space will be opened to small groups then larger ones.

The space is so welcoming and calm, the whole area is exactly where I feel at home.  Outside lots to look at and explore – random Objet D’art hidden amongst the trees and bushes. I can imagine in the summer it will be an explosion of colour and scent but for now the autumnal colours and architectural wintery undergrowth take centre stage.  I’m sure it’s a place where fairies reside, why not go and see for yourself…

Some of the workshops on offer from Tranquility Time Retreats are currently online and they include:

Christmas Zen Time Retreat

Tranquility Time & Self Care Rocks bring you a festive Christmas creativity and calm before Christmas Retreat. Relax as we explore the Wheel of the year through meditation, & visualisation before we gather to Design a beautiful Zen Garland together, calm our minds & bodies as I select a group goddess oracle to guide us through the winter months.

The Magic of Winter

Join Sharon Strickland-Clark & Susan Royle to find the power of magic within you during these winter months, unearth your deepest wisdom as you relax, remove any limitations and take a beautiful journey inward to start your new year. Trust & let go as you flow gently into this beautiful 90 minutes for fun relaxation and enjoy sharing the Magic of Winter.

The Self Care Space brought to you by Tranquility Time Retreats

Or you can book a one to one session and see this magical place for yourself… I had a wonderful guided relaxation and had angel cards pulled for me and we looked at their meanings…

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Telephone: 07738 095089



The Self Care Space brought to you by Tranquility Time Retreats