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Northumberland SUP Trip

Go Ape’s Naturally Powered Adventures are designed and subsidised so that they’re accessible to all tribe members. In June 2022, 10 Go Ape tribe members, from instructors to our Managing Director set out on an Naturally Powered Adventure (NPA) together! Over 2 days they Stand-up Paddle boarded (SUPed) along the Northumberland Coast, wild camped and even created their own Finnish tent sauna.

Go Ape Matfen Instructor, Jack Murphy, shares his experience:

The Meet Up Point

The adventure began at 10 am with us meeting at the CBK’s offices in Cullercoats. This is where we met everyone that would be coming with us and the team that would be leading the activities. Jumping on a minibus we headed out to Craster to begin our 2-day trip.

Getting Suited and Booted

It was time to get our wetsuits on, boards inflated, snacks ready and down to the water to begin our training in the harbour.

Before letting us lose in the water, we thought we better have a quick warm up playing a game to learn each other’s names and covering the basics of SUPing.

Go Ape instructor in paddleboarding adventure gear for Go Ape naturally powered day

Heading Out onto the Water

Go Ape team on paddle boards on naturally powered adventure

It was finally time to launch our paddle boards into the water and embark on our 8km journey down to Sugar Sands Beach. After a quick practice paddle and making sure we could actually all head in the right direction we soon made good progress. It wasn’t long before the first person took a tumble into the sea and experienced firsthand what the North Sea has to offer. Despite the cold water, we couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions and at times we had to remind ourselves that were not somewhere tropical but actually on the north east coastline.

As we travelled along, we were led towards a small stretch of coastline which just happened to have cliffs next to the sea line. Remembering that somewhere in the itinerary cliff jumping had been mentioned, we started to prepare ourselves for the fact that we may be leaping off one of those tall rocks.

Adrenaline high we pressed on down the coast with many more kilometres to go. Taking a quick snack break on a Sugar Sands Beach most of us continued to finish the last leg of this part of the journey. On our way enjoying some of the views including some shipwrecks and a curious seal. With the shoreline in sight our instructor suggested some tricks and finished by creating a ‘train’ with the boards and us working together to move.

A Well-Earned drink

After getting changed out of our cold damp wetsuits and into some nice warm clothes, there was no better way to celebrate a hard day’s paddle than heading to the local pub for a cool refreshing pint…or two.

Time to setup camp

We arrived at the campsite feeling rather hungry and some of us slightly tipsy… setting up camp didn’t take long and in no time at all we were all gathered round the fire chatting and laughing about the day’s activities.

Go Ape team on beach after naturally powered adventure SUP trip

Taking the cold plunge

We were all very excited and a little nervous about what lay ahead. After a short brief about the potential dangers of cold water shock, we geared up to enter the water for first of many rotations back and forth between the icy North Sea and inviting warm sauna tent. We were told things would get easier with every round to the point where would not feel any temperature difference between the two extremes, however I’m not sure all of us ever got to that point.

While a few of us were relaxing and trying to warm up in a tent, Jack spotted the first of a pod of dolphins to great excitement of everyone, especially Neil who had promised dolphins.

As the day drew to a close it was time for one last group photo, which involved getting back into the icy water, but this time without the added comfort of a wetsuit! We hopped back on the bus and headed back to Cullercoats. Oh, and we couldn’t resist stopping for a McDonalds along the way.

Saying our Goodbyes

One of the many great things about the Go Ape naturally powered days is the chance to meet and spend time with other Go Ape site employees. From Aberfoyle and Dalkeith to Sherwood, Thetford and Head Office. This trip was a great way for staff who might not get the chance to meet normally due to the many miles in-between them to create friendships across the company. After exchanging our goodbyes it was time for everybody to head home, although admittedly some had further to travel than others.

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Scenic view of Northumberland showing hills and forest