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Alton Water, Suffolk

11:13 24th February 2012 by Letitia Hristodorescu
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Set in 600 acres of parkland, Alton water is a large reservoir of some 150 acres of usable water. Home of the Alton Boardriders Club and the Alton Water Wipeouts Team 15 club, it is the largest lake in the Eastern Region after Grafham Water.

The centre has a good base of regular windsurfers who love flat water blasting and freestyle. Being on the east coast, it is great alternative in a NW wind when locations are limited because of the wind direction. There is a large clubhouse with good changing/shower facilities which might get a facelift in the near future, a cafe and constant rescue cover. There is a large grassy area in front of the car park which is perfect for rigging.

Fees: If you are not a member then you will have to pay for a day’s membership to launch. This costs £7.50 for a weekday and £8.50 for a Saturday or a Sunday and includes access to all the facilities.

Beach Faces:

north

Best Wind Direction:

north west.

Worst wind direction: south (dead offshore and full of holes!)

Prevailing wind direction: SW (can be a bit holey as the wind increases.)

What’s On The Bottom:

It’s deep, so you won’t touch it. The beach is sandy and slightly stony.

Any Hazards:

None really, some good size carp but they will come off worse if you hit them! There is a low bridge out to a Draw Off Tower but that has never been hit by anyone!

Other Water Users:

Because it is open to the public you will find lots of dinghies and the odd canoe floating around all blissfully ignoring rights of way. There used to be divers, but they kept popping up in the wrong places, like in the middle of a start line during race day, so they were banned.

Suitability / Levels:

Alton suits beginner to intermediate windsurfer’s best, because of the safety aspect and the size. Those wanting more challenging conditions tend to go to the numerous spots on the East coast. Having said that you still get the odd hot shot turning up and strutting his stuff.

Wipeout Factor:

In a SW gale it’s as challenging as an inland water area can get! In a NW blow, the longest fetch, there is enough chop to make an idiot out of anybody.

Instruction:

Alton has a huge variety of courses available for windsurfers and sailors. From a 9 year old beginner right up to RYA Level 3 and beyond. Not forgetting a thriving Team 15 Club (The Wipeouts) for younger racers. Contact Alton Water Sports Centre, Tel. 01473 328 408 or email info@altonwater.co.uk

Kit Hire:

A wide selection of boards are available including Starboard Starts, F2 Discovery’s and Mistral Trances and a couple of Power Glides. The usual Hi Fly Revos, Magnums and Max’s and sails from 2m kiddy rigs right up to 7m Arrows Crazes.

Contact Alton Water Sports Centre, details above.

Friendly Factor:

Alton Water has gone through a few changes in management in the recent past but is now more welcoming that it has ever been. There are many more sailors than windsurfers as it is much more dinghy orientated, but the windsurf regulars are a friendly bunch as prone to exaggeration as any beach full of windsurfing nutters!

No Wind Alternatives:

Alton Water has gone through a few changes in management in the recent past but is now more welcoming that it has ever been. There are many more sailors than windsurfers as it is much more dinghy orientated, but the windsurf regulars are a friendly bunch as prone to exaggeration as any beach full of windsurfing nutters!

Facilities:

Toilets

YES, in the clubhouse

Shower

YES, in the changing rooms

Windsurfing Shop

There is a small chandlery selling the smaller items like gloves, boots and rope etc. The nearest windsurfing shop is SKISURF in Colchester (Tel.      01206 502000) only 20 minutes away from the lake and it is well stocked

Food

There are two cafes at the lake, one on the waterside and one in the park

Parking

Lots of spaces

Pub

Two pubs in Stutton about 2 minutes away both serve reasonable food. I recommend the Butt and Oyster in Shotley about 10 minutes drive, right on the estuary with excellent food

Accommodation:

There is a camp site at Bentley about 4 miles away and one at Capel St Mary some 10 minutes drive away. There are some local bed and breakfast places and loads of hotels in Ipswich including Travel Lodges. Speak to the centre (contact details in Instruction)

Extra:

Ski Surf have demo days at Alton which are always packed and Guy Cribb has been known to do the odd clinic there as well.

Check out:
www.wendywindblows.com/stations/altonwater.html
for weather conditions

Check out:
www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/360/views/alton_water.shtml
for an animated panoramic view of Alton Water.

How To Get There:

Take the A137 turn off on the A14 at Ipswich and follow the signs to Brantham and Manningtree. At Brantham turn left to Stutton, go through Stutton past the school on your right and Alton is about another 500 yards on your left.

Report By:

Bob Kirbyshire

Photo Credits:

Photos courtesy of Alton Water Sports Centre

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