The Scottish Mail on Sunday
So is this Britain’s coolest commute?
Traff ic jams? ScotRail delays? Grab a paddle!
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’