Panoramic View of Alton Water Reservoir
180º panoramic shot of Alton Water reservoir

Alton Water is a good-sized reservoir in Suffolk, ideal for beginners to the sport of windsurfing. RYA tuition is available, as is board and equipment hire. It is also possible to store you own equipment on-site. The hire equipment has got a lot better in the last few years (since the days I learnt there on an ancient F2 Comet Slalom - the only board with footstraps...) A surprising number of sailors use this reservoir, and it is very rare to find no-one out if there's wind. There are also many intermediate and advanced sailors using Alton Water, although I have no idea why when much more consistent wind is available on the sea nearby! For more information check out the official website at

Map overlooking the sailing area, and local information

OS Map with Aerial Photo

Flat Water: YES
Wind Chop: Small
Waves: NO
Beach: n/a (Grass)
Wind Direction : W-NNW / (ANY)

Car parking : YES (free to members)
Toilets : YES, plus Showers
Café : YES

Nearest Windsurf Shop : Ski-Surf, Colchester
And a little further : Wet'n'Dry, A13/A130 Jn.
There is also a small chandlery on-site.

Wind information : On-Site Wendy Station.

Alton Water reservoir is located near the villages of Tattingstone and Holbrook, approximately 6 miles South of Ipswich. Approach via the A12, the A137, and the B1080.

The sailing area is the SE section, and is approximately 1/3-mile across by 1/2-mile wide. The wind here can be horribly gusty, but North Westerlies can be fairly clean. When you are learning this is not really a huge problem, but it can be very frustrating otherwise. Easterly winds (coming up over the dam) are generally not worth bothering with. If you are a fairly confident sailor, I would strongly recommend trying out Aldeburgh and Felixstowe as alternatives.

You must either be a member or purchase a day ticket to sail at Alton Water, but the charges for this are very reasonable.

Launching area is shown by the red arrow. Aerial Photos & Maps from Multimap and GetMapping

The photos below should give an idea of the range of conditions found at this location. The larger images have a description of the conditions at the time the shot was taken. If you've got any good photos that you'd like to see here then email the site and I'll add them on if possible.

Typical Sailing Conditions

Photo no.1 Photo no.2 Photo no.3 Photo no.4
Click thumbnails to open larger images. Thanks to ImageShack for free hosting of these images.

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