Meet Adrian Bacon
As the onset of spring lures us outside, we introduce some of the brilliant people who work with us to heighten your experiences in and on the lake. If you’ve ever kayaked or paddleboarded on Ullswater with us, chances are you’ll have met expert instructor Adrian Bacon…
Head of paddle sports at Another Place, Adrian’s been taking guests out on the lake since we opened in 2017. We caught a rare moment with him back on dry land to hear about his experiences competing internationally for the UK windsurfing team, his transition to stand-up paddleboarding, and an exhilarating new sport that’s got him hooked…
Like a fish to water
A life revolving around the outdoors was, perhaps, always on the cards for Adrian. “I was very lucky to grow up in Keswick, the adventure capital of the Lake District,” he says. “My father and all his friends were outdoor instructors, and from a very young age I was exposed to the full range of outdoor activities.”
It was in the Lakes where Adrian discovered his talent for windsurfing – his first windsurfing lesson on Derwentwater, aged 11, proving to be a pivotal moment in his life. “From that first lesson onwards, I became completely obsessed with the sport and progressed quickly. I started teaching at the local windsurf school when I was about 15, in my school holidays. Around the same time, I started racing and worked my way up the National Ranking list, before eventually being selected for the British team and competing in several European and World Championships.”
Being a world-class windsurfer brought other perks, too. “During this time, I also became senior equipment tester for Windsurf Magazine,” he says. “I spent a lot of time abroad testing boards and sails, and writing about them for the magazine.”
Swapping sail for paddle
It was only a matter of time before Adrian dipped his toe into other watersports, first trying stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) in 2007. As with windsurfing, he was a natural. “My windsurfing background meant I found it quite easy to progress,” he says. “I quickly moved into the surfing and racing side of the sport, where I competed in the UK Endurance series for a few years. The highlight of the SUP racing was competing in the 2017 Great Glen Challenge – a 97km SUP race across Scotland, which I managed to complete in 12 hours 47 minutes.”
Spreading the love
After spending lots of time teaching family and friends how to SUP, the idea of becoming an instructor struck. Adrian soon realised it would be both fun and rewarding to teach others, and that demand for lessons would be good. He got his SUP Instructors qualification in 2015.
“I started a little SUP school out of the back of my van, teaching from various locations on Ullswater,” he says. “Then in 2017, I started my partnership with Another Place – and the number of people wanting to learn started to grow really quickly.”
And SUP’s popularity has just kept on growing. “In 2020, when the first lockdown ended, the sport just exploded. Virtually every board in every shop in the UK got snapped up. The annual number of paddleboarders on Ullswater has grown from about 10 people in 2012 to over 25,000 in 2022. But there’s so much space, it never feels crowded.”
This must be the place…
Adrian was drawn to working with Another Place because of its location on the shore of Ullswater, which he describes as “probably the best inland destination for all types of watersports in the UK”.
The hotel grounds give guests direct access to sheltered shallow bays on the lake’s western shoreline, ideal for those just starting out on SUPs and kayaks.
“The past five years have been a really exciting time, with the transformation of the old Rampsbeck hotel building and relandscaping of the grounds, and being part of the Another Place brand journey,” he says.
One such transformation has been the new Sheep Shed – a custom-built lakeside cabin giving guests high-quality watersports equipment, space for drying wetsuits, changing rooms and hot showers, which he thinks really enhances guests’ experience.
As for Adrian’s teaching approach, he puts a real emphasis on delivering positive learning experiences. “With all of our activities, we want guests to have a fun and safe experience that they can share with family and friends – while connecting to the natural environment around Ullswater,” he says. “We underpin this with expert tuition and structure the sessions to allow them to learn the basics of the activities properly, then progress in the sport if they wish.”
For anyone a little nervous about taking to a SUP or kayak for the first time, he’s quick to reassure. “All of our activities are perfect for complete beginners. We take a lot of care to make sure the sessions are accessible and inclusive to as many people as possible. We have a great team of experienced instructors who’ll give guests confidence and keep them safe.”
Adrian loves being able to lead a group where everyone’s really enjoying themselves. “It’s very rewarding meeting new people and sharing with them the sports I love, in this amazing location,” he says.
Spreading his wings…
So what to do outside of work, when your day job is so much fun? “I’ve been wing foiling for about two years,” he tells us. “It’s basically a hybrid between kitesurfing and windsurfing, but underneath the board is a hydrofoil which lifts it out of the water. It’s an incredible sensation – using the wind to effortlessly fly across the top of the water. I’m completely addicted.”
Describing Ullswater as a great spot for wing foiling, Adrian hopes to incorporate this new-found passion into Another Place’s watersports offer sometime in the future.
As for the rest of his spare time, he still finds it hard to stay still – preferring to spend his days and weekends off hiking with his son. “We’ve got into ‘Wainwright bagging’, which is basically climbing all of the 214 fells in the Lake District,” he says. “It’s a fantastic way to explore the fells and find areas of the Lakes you’ve never been to before.”
SUP and Kayak lessons at Another Place
There will be a paddle sport going out from the jetty at Another Place most days. Both paddleboarding and kayaking are great family, couple or individual activity and accessible to most as there are no special skills required. Paddleboarding starts from 8 years and kayaking from 5 years.