By Chloe Russell, Communication Officer
On this World Ocean Day, we are thrilled to share an immersive podcast episode that takes you on a captivating journey along the Thames. In this blog post, we provide a description of the episode and an exclusive interview with Paul Hyman, the owner of Active360, a prominent paddleboarding company. Discover the beauty of the Thames and gain insights into the environmental initiatives that make this episode truly special.
We also took this opportunity to announce that TEP is launching a new course, "Introduction to the Thames Estuary." This course is open to everyone interested in learning about the history, biology, and ecology of the Thames. If you're curious about the captivating story of the Thames Estuary - its history, its present state, and its future - then this course is made for you.
Listen to the Paddleboarding London: An Immersive Journey along the Thames on all popular streaming platforms
In our latest podcast episode of "Talk of the Thames," we embark on an immersive adventure from Kew Bridge to Richmond, guided by Wanda Bodnar, TEP's Data and Training Manager. As you listen, you'll be transported to the water's edge, where the gentle lapping of waves and the melodies of birds create a serene ambiance, bringing the magic of the river to life. We recommend putting on your headphones and finding a quiet place to truly immerse yourself in this extraordinary experience.
Above: Image of Wanda taken during her interview for our recent podcast episode
But this episode is not just about the immersive soundscape. We also had the privilege of sitting down with Paul Hyman, the founder of Active360, a leading paddleboarding company in London. Paul's passion for the Thames and his commitment to environmental sustainability shine through as he shares his insights and experiences in our exclusive interview.
So, what inspired Paul to start Active360 and offer paddleboarding tours in London? He had been involved in kayaking since his student days in Portsmouth and was looking for something different in late 2010. After witnessing stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) while surfing in Ireland and Cornwall, Paul was captivated by its versatility and saw its potential to engage more people in nature and the Thames. In early 2011, he took the leap and bought the first 20 paddleboards, kickstarting the SUP scene in London.
Active360 offers a variety of paddleboarding tours in London, including group trips, Thames Skills and Knowledge (TSK) courses, and Natural History Tours. What sets them apart from other tour companies is their commitment to providing safe and educational experiences while bringing people closer to nature. Wanda leads the Natural History Tours, offering participants a deeper understanding of the Tidal Thames and its rich history as a transport route and wildlife corridor.
Above: The Thames near Syon Park
Promoting sustainable tourism and protecting local waterways is a core value for Active360. By providing opportunities to explore waterways using human power and immersing visitors in nature, they offer an alternative to travelling long distances to enjoy water-based activities. Active360 also collaborates with local organisations, such as Thames21, on initiatives like "In The Drink," which encourages the switch from single-use drink cups to reusables, reducing plastic waste in the river.
When it comes to paddleboarding locations in London, Paul highlights their home patch around Kew Bridge, which offers a picturesque setting with islands, historic pubs, and even a stately home. Passing under the illuminated Albert Bridge at night is an experience that is hard to beat. Additionally, London's extensive canal network provides plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure.
Paddleboarding in London offers a unique perspective of the city compared to other water activities or land-based tours. Standing on the water, paddleboarders have a heightened awareness of their surroundings, enabling them to see more and experience a sense of relaxation. The Thames, with its powerful tidal currents and abundant wildlife, offers a dynamic and ever-changing environment that keeps paddleboarders engaged and challenged.
Above: A beautiful summer evening on the Thames near Richmond
For those interested in trying paddleboarding for the first time, Paul advises seeking proper instruction to learn the sport correctly and efficiently. Active360 ensures participants receive sound advice on technique and river safety, allowing them to quickly gain confidence on the board.
Active360's commitment to environmental consciousness extends beyond providing paddleboarding experiences. They strive to minimise packaging waste by sourcing equipment from suppliers who practice responsible packaging. Additionally, they encourage their participants to take an active interest in protecting marine environments and have witnessed some individuals who started with them going on to establish organisations working on environmental projects—a testament to the lasting impact of their efforts.
Looking ahead, Active360 has exciting plans for the future. As their commitment to the environment remains at the core of their business, they are considering becoming a charity in the coming years. This strategic move would enable them to focus on expanding their work with schools, individuals on low incomes, and those with special needs, while also seeking grants to support their initiatives.
As we conclude this blog post on World Ocean Day, we invite you to reflect on the preciousness of our waterways and the immense beauty they offer. Whether you are a seasoned paddleboarder or a newcomer to the sport, Active360 provides a gateway to discovering the wonders of London's waterways. To learn more about their paddleboarding tours and explore the breathtaking River Thames, visit the Active360 website.