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Sian Sykes' Three Lakes Challenge on a Stand Up Paddleboard


Stand up paddle boarding originated in Africa where it was common practice for individuals to stand on their canoes and use their paddle to propel themselves forwards. This method was used by warriors in an attempt to silently enter enemy territory for stealth attacks.

Sian was using her SUP for far nicer purposes - to go on an adventure! 

Below is Sians account of her Three Lakes Challenge.

As a fully qualified outdoor instructor I have led people on many different adventures. This time I wanted to do something a bit different - an adventure of my own, doing what I loved doing. I wanted to prove to myself that, with some planning, I could do a solo trip whilst enjoying time out from the day to day pace of life.

– Sian Sykes

Day One - 13th May 2016 - Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala)

Sian S3

Early start for a one and a half hour drive from Anglesey to Llyn Tegid, Bala. 

I set off with lovely calm conditions on the outward route, which had changed to a force 3/4 wind for the return leg. This made the paddle back rather tough as it was a northerly wind.

My Mum met me for a picnic at the lake to celebrate completing the first of the three lakes before I headed off to Ambleside.

Arriving in Ambleside that evening, I treated myself to some chippy chips and a bottle of bubbly by the lake as I recced the next day's launch! That night I settled down for a night sleeping in my car - waking up rather crumpled the next morning.

Day Two - 14th May 2016 - Lake Windermere

Sian S2

I decided on an early start to avoid all the traffic on the lake. Windermere was beautifully still and calm which meant some lovely reflections of the surrounding mountains on the water.

Windermere took me four hours to paddle and I arrived at Lakeside in time for breakfast with some waiting friends.

As I was paddling an inflatable paddle board it was easy for me to deflate it, roll it up and carry it with me on the ferry across the lake! From the ferry I enjoyed seeing the lake from a different perspective whilst soaking up the sunshine.

Back in the car and it was time to head on up to Scotland. After a five and half hour drive I was grateful for the comfort of a B&B near Loch Awe.

Day Three - 15th May 2016 - Loch Awe

Sian S1

Loch Awe was the lake I always had my worries about. I had given myself a three day window in case of poor weather conditions. Having checked the weather I decided that the first of the three days was going to deliver the most favourable conditions and so I prepped my kit for an early start.

Throughout the three days and lakes I had gradually increased the amount of kit which I carried with me. This was due to the lengths of the lakes getting longer. This time I packed a tent, stove, thermarest, food, water, sleeping bag and warm clothes. These were all strapped to my board.The main pack weighed 12kg. I also had an emergency kit around my waist, containing my flare, snacks, tow line, map and first aid kit. I was envisaging doing one or two nights camping at the end of the loch paddle.

I launched and set off across the lake not knowing what was going to unfold. The conditions were AMAZING the quiet, solitude and stunning views made it my favourite lake out of the three. 

With wind coming from all directions I got my head down and got some mileage under my belt whilst bopping along to Chemical Brothers. Embarrassingly my very loud singing along to Adele was witnessed by others!

I stopped for 20 minutes for a snack before pushing on. Finally the end was just 6km away and the end in sight! I had heard reports of people having real epics as they came in to the finish due to poor weather conditions, so I hugged the side of the loch. Watching fishermen thought I was barmy but were impressed by my efforts.

After 10 hours on the water I came into Ford and my Three Lakes Challenge was completed!

My thoughts of camping went out of the window and I strolled into Torran Bay hostel in my dry suit to book a room. They had never seen a SUP before and thought I was paddling whilst standing on a boat. Having booked in the hostel owner kindly dug me out some vodka to celebrate.

After a good nights sleep I went for a quick paddle before being picked up by a friend to carry on my Scottish adventures...a SUP around the Isle of Seil.

You can find out more about Sian's adventures on her Twitter feed and watch a video of her challenge here.

To plan your Three Lakes Challenge adventure click here!