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November 4, 2020

Paddle Boarding Post Lockdown!

Words by: Ellie Cartwright.

Photos courtesy of Ellie Cartwright. 

From our Summer SUP International Issue, we look back at this feature with Ellie Cartwright, a filmmaker and Olympus mentor, who has a passion for anything associated with adventure and cameras, who muses the calming effect of paddling around the Thames post lockdown:  


No two days are the same for Ellie Cartwright owner of Wanderlust Action films.  Since setting up her film company in 2017, Ellie has created her job and life around capturing adventure sports for companies all over the world. Like most of us this year, her routines and outlets for enjoying the outdoors have been compromised, yet surprisingly reimagined.

During lockdown our natural playground has become a key feature in our wellbeing for both physical and mental health. For those of us who have already had a strong connection to the outdoors it has felt limiting. For others it has presented a new discovery of all things the outdoors has to offer. A chance to sample that wonderful therapy we receive from our local environment.  For Ellie, who has filmed in some of the world’s most unique locations, lockdown gave her a chance to appreciate nature on her doorstep and revisit her love for her local river just outside of Oxford…

ELLIE: “Oxford is famous for its winding waterways; punting is a traditional outdoor activity and I used to go every summer growing up. It can get busy in the centre but there are so many secret spots along the Thames for a casual river SUP. I tend to go out for 5-10km, it’s so peaceful to be out in the countryside just cruising at your own speed and taking in the beautiful views. The spot (where I took these images) often lights up with stunning sunsets. I like to go at golden hour and watch the sun go down post sup. That first paddle, after lockdown, was treasured like no other and will never be forgotten! 

Post lockdown has been met with a passion to adventure locally and support the local tourist industry. It has opened up the door to new activities, which has been reflected in the number of new paddlers we are seeing on our waterways. With international travel on the back burner it seems ‘the staycation’ is here to stay and for Ellie, it is the positive effects of her carbon footprint and the local environment overall, that has changed her perspective…  

ELLIE: “This time last year, I was barely at home – either away on film shoots or on road trips as often as I could. In some ways it [Lockdown] was positive because I explored my local area on foot a lot, more than I ever had done before. And, there are so many awesome places to explore here in the UK so I think a staycation is something we Brits should do more of! For me, it’s so easy to pack up and inflate my paddle board anywhere I choose. When lockdown lifted more fully, I packed the car and headed off on a road trip which included a paddle in a reservoir in the Peaks, Northumberland beach days and an epic paddle in the Lake District. 

We all have a part to play to protect and conserve the places we enjoy. I’ve noticed the water quality on the river being worlds better than it was last summer – the underwater shots in the film I made show how clean it is. It wasn’t like that last year.”  

The great outdoors and nature have always been a strong remedy for clearing the mind and enjoying a big calming breath. Studies have also shown that spending time in and around the water can have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing, by calming and reconnecting the mind to appreciate being in the present. Many people have reported a sense of peace when paddle boarding, something Ellie has an appreciation for…

ELLIE: “Paddle boarding provides us with a local opportunity to not only explore but fully immerse within the local environment. The micro adventure, after work bike ride and sunset picnics will soon not only just become another activity that we squeeze in when we have time but a necessity that hopefully we will bump up the ladder of priorities. For me paddle boarding is a way to explore and see places from a different perspective. When you’re on the river you’re not a passing spectator taking it in from a distance, you’re a part of it.

I think being locked down this year has fired up everyone’s desire for freedom and being out on the water is such a free feeling. Getting away from it all, being with nature, is almost meditative. Paddle boarding is such a great way to add some micro-adventures into your week and as most people have a river, lake or beach within a reasonable distance it is really accessible. Just being out on the water is a mindful activity in itself. It is a perfect way to still your inner thoughts and just focus on being present, whether that is through the nature around you or the process and motion of paddling, one stroke at a time.”  


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