The Scottish Mail on Sunday

So is this Bri­tain’s coolest com­mute?

Traff ic jams? ScotRail de­lays? Grab a pad­dle!

- By Kirby Spencer Iceland · United Kingdom · Tonga · Belarus · Inverness · Fort William · Fort William · Scotland · Cornwall · Banavie

WHILE most peo­ple are stuck in traf­fic or packed in on pub­lic trans­port, Carl Haberl’s com­mute is, lit­er­ally, a breeze.

Grab­bing his pad­dle­board he waves good­bye to his fam­ily be­fore haul­ing the fi­bre­glass float to the Cale­do­nian Canal.

Cast­ing off near Nep­tune’s Stair­case, close by his home in Banavie, In­ver­ness-shire, he pad­dles for a mile to Loch Eil.

With Ben Ne­vis ahead, Mr Haberl then skims across the bay to Fort Wil­liam, neatly folded suit on board.

The 48-year-old’s trip to the Univer­sity of the High­lands and Is­lands School of Ad­ven­ture Stud­ies takes half an hour.

Mr Haberl said: ‘You can even have break­fast or cof­fee on the board.’

But while he doesn’t face the con­ges­tion or lack of per­sonal space most com­muters deal with, trav­el­ling to work via pad­dle­board of­fers its own chal­lenges.

Mr Haberl said that while balanc­ing on the board is ‘a great work­out’, one wrong move can re­sult in a soak­ing.

He added: ‘I have fallen in be­fore, but not for a while. It’s mostly when you first start out. I carry a spare top, jacket and hat just in case I do take a tum­ble and have a wa­ter­proof phone and VHF ra­dio.’

Mr Haberl said stand-up pad­dle­board­ing, or SUP, is on the rise in Scot­land.

He added: ‘It’s not re­ally big yet, but it’s catch­ing on. A lot of re­tired peo­ple find it is a great way to watch birds and wildlife.’

Mr Haberl took up the sport in Corn­wall, but be­lieves Scot­land’s scenery of­fers a bet­ter back­drop.

He said: ‘I love see­ing the moun­tains and watch­ing the wildlife on my way to and from work. You spot swans, ducks, seals and the oc­ca­sional ot­ter.

‘But it’s all about the sound as the board cuts through the wa­ter. That “whoosh­ing” noise is re­ally calm­ing.’

Mr Haberl, who also runs, walks and cy­cles to work, helps ad­ven­ture en­thu­si­asts achieve de­grees in tourism, coach­ing and ma­rine stud­ies.

He said: ‘We are a very ac­tive workplace, some of my col­leagues pad­dle in with ca­noes or kayaks.’

‘You can even have break­fast on board’

 ??  ?? ALL ABOARD: Carl Haberl pad­dling his way to work at the cam­pus in Fort Wil­liam, below
ALL ABOARD: Carl Haberl pad­dling his way to work at the cam­pus in Fort Wil­liam, below

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