SUPing 160 miles to reveal the science of Britain’s longest river…
SUPboarder proudly sponsored a team of ‘Anturus’ scientists on their 160 mile SUP journey from the source to the sea on the River Severn. The expedition was designed to combine science, education and adventure on the river, to then share with schools. Anturus leader Huw James explains more about the expedition, and why SUP’s were the perfect form of transport to discover science on the Severn.
Adventure is a primal urge driven by curiosity but curiosity also drives science, engineering, technology and much more. The Anturus Education project visits scientifically interesting locations to collect media, data, and develop simple hands on resources to inspire the next generation through science and adventure and in June we took to the water and stand up paddle boarded Britain’s Longest River over 10 days, with education as the number one focus.
We headed up to the Source of the River Severn in the Cambrian Mountains to see where the huge river comes from, where 2.5 meters of rain can fall annually, and then jumped on the paddleboards at Newtown and paddled 160 miles down to Sharpness Docks, at times paddling up to 30 miles per day. A lot of the time, further up the river, we had to jump off and pull the boards between rock sections so we didn’t damage the boards. We also spent the first few days on our boards with no fins, which was fun going round in lots of circles. In places like Welshpool where the average height of the river is usually over 3 meters, the river was running at less than 1 meter (but through the winter can see over 5m!). It all added to the difficulty of the trip though as well as the logistics of getting the van to the next camps and stowing all the gear on the SUPs, but with the Red Paddle Co 12’6” Explorer Board, it handled all our gear perfectly, and when they were deflated, they stowed in our in the tents which proved highly advantageous. SUPs themselves were actually a great form of transport, being really stable and easy to get the kit on and off for camping, cooking and data collection and filming!
Through the trip we were making Ecology, Geography and Science strands of resources and videos for Expedition Severn as well as the SevernLive videos from the things we saw on the river, all 15+ hours’ worth of activities now available at www.anturus.org/severn. We had visits in the real world from schools and over Skype in the classroom too. It was a really successful trip and the Severn is such a great river to tackle, easily doable over 2 weeks with time to spare, if you’re just planning on paddling. On our expeds we collect data, media and samples in a hope to bring more collaborative real world data to industry and education and we’ve already got the next few lined up. This adds to the complexity of our trips but make them very rewarding. When you get to see a mighty river in action, see towns from a new point of view, a range of Flora and Fauna, historical sites like Charles Darwin’s birthplace and just how many people depend on this river, SUPing proves itself as completely unique in what it can show us and how it gets us to these amazing places.
Words by : Huw James (Anturus)
Have you been on any SUP science adventures? If so where, and what did you discover?