Discovering Eastbourne’s countryside on a paddleboard

Despite living in Eastbourne for three years I had never made the most of the environment around me.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:17 pm

As I became consumed with studying and work I let the fact that I lived in one of the most naturally beautiful counties in the country escape me.

I love hiking and water sports but foolishly never took advantage of the stunning beaches and rolling hills, until this week.

Dom Barrow from Sussex Paddleboard Hire got in touch about the opportunity to go out on the Cuckmere River and I knew this was my chance.

Paddle Boarding at Cuckmere Haven (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210616-083632001
Paddle Boarding at Cuckmere Haven (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210616-083632001

I went to see Dom and fellow co-founder Chris Caplen at their ‘HQ’ which is run out of Mr Barrow’s garage.

The pair started the company with friend Louis Potter, although he was not around on the day we went out.

As I began speaking with the pair who grew up in Eastbourne they told me about how they never truly appreciated the countryside until they began paddleboarding.

When we got down to Cuckmere Haven I was blown away by how many people were there to paddleboard or to just go out on a kayak.

Dom Barrow, left, and Chris Caplen, right. (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210616-082731001

As someone who grew up in a city I had never experienced a setting where people were that calm while enjoying the environment around them.

When I last tried to get into a water activity it was dragon boating.

The beat of the drum and the yelling from the crew on the boat as they desperately tried to win a race was the exact opposite of paddleboarding – and I loved it.

Paddleboarding is about taking your time, relaxing and taking everything in.

Despite the odd wobble here and there I spent a majority of my time on the water chatting with Dom and Chris about life as the sun set on the river.

As clichéd as it is, all of my worries just washed away (sorry, I couldn’t not use a water pun).

While on the bank of the river Dom began to speak about how beneficial the experience can be for someone’s mental health.

He said, “About a month ago it was mental health awareness week and the theme was nature so it ties in perfectly with that. People getting outside and exploring.

“If you come down here in the evening after work it is a great way to unwind rather than sitting there on your phone.

“It is great for your mental health.”

Another thought that came into my mind while floating down the river was that I never appreciated the beauty East Sussex had to offer.

Dom said, “I have been over to Colombia, Mexico, a lot of Turkey, Latin America and a lot of Asia for work and stuff like that and I have seen a lot of the world but to be honest Eastbourne is such a beautiful place.

“I think that is what I have taken in recently with all the walks on the Cuckmere and on Eastbourne Beach.

“Last night I did a walk from the base of Eastbourne up to Birling Gap and I just think this is beautiful and you just take it in and realise how lucky we are to be in such an amazing spot.”

Despite going into paddleboarding thinking I was just going to leave with slightly better balance, I actually came away with a greater appreciation for the environment and my mental health.

To find out more about Sussex Paddleboard Hire visit https://www.sussexpaddleboardhire.co.uk/.