Eve, paddle boarding near Llangollen Eve has been exploring the canals on her doorstep

Meet Eve

I relax when I’m paddling. It helps to relieve any anxiety and stress.

I’ve been paddleboarding for a couple of years on the Welsh coast and lakes. However, recently I’ve been exploring the canals on my doorstep, to comply with the government’s lockdown guidelines. I’m lucky enough to live just inside North Wales, on the borders of Shropshire and Cheshire.

I’m becoming slightly addicted to the tranquillity of the canals and the occasional wildlife sighting. As I’m paddling I take photos and videos to update my Instagram account. It’s kept me busy during lockdown, a little personal project really.

A beautiful view from the board at Lyneal on the Llangollen Canal A beautiful view from the board at Lyneal on the Llangollen Canal

I love being outdoors and I like to run, but running is a bit hectic. I relax when I’m paddling. It’s just a nice break from everything. It helps to relieve any anxiety and stress. I’ve been working from home during lockdown, but I’ve had to go into the office every day to get the bits and pieces that I need.

I’m always aware that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, because everybody’s wearing masks and constantly sanitising. It’s nice to escape to the peace and quiet of paddling.

A view from Eve's favourite stretch of water A view from Eve's favourite stretch of water

My favourite spot is on the Llangollen Canal between Whitchurch and Ellesmere, which runs alongside the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve.

Further west the canal goes through the tunnels at Chirk and Ellesmere, and over the aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte.

Chirk Tunnel Eve Ralphs

I paddled through both tunnels recently. They’re incredible. You have to watch out for the boats though, because once you’re inside it’s sometimes not wide enough to turn the board around or pass by each other. Boats should honk their horn just before they enter. I was filming, so I put my flashlight on to see my way through.

I’m usually out paddling for around three hours. I lose track of time, floating away. I’ll stand for a bit and then I’ll sit down and just use it as a kayak. That’s why I really like paddleboards, because you can stand, sit or kneel.

I saw an otter the other day and I was delighted. He swam right across in front of me. He must have been just as surprised to see me!

I wasn’t quick enough with the camera, but I’ve bought an active camera to put on my board, so hopefully I won’t miss out in future. I see fish, herons, a kestrel, all sorts.

Ellesmere Tunnel Eve Ralphs

Now I’ve got the bug, I’m very much hoping to paddle the Montgomery Canal, which I’ve heard is great for wildlife spotting.

From her first lesson, Eve loved paddling and decided to buy her own board From her first lesson, Eve loved paddling and decided to buy her own board

If you haven’t been paddleboarding before, I’d say try it, because it’s easier than it looks. A few wobbly minutes and then once you’ve settled yourself and you’re in position, it’s absolutely fine.

The canals are special, beautiful places with loads to see. Just get yourself a licence and go.