What’s coasteering all about?
Coasteering? Well it’s a little bit like gorge scrambling and in turn a little bit like canyoning (known as canyoneering in the U.S.). With these activities you swim across pools, clamber up and around waterfalls and then periodically jump back in. Coasteering is pretty similar – it just happens along the coast, with a bit of swimming in the sea, traversing along rock faces, climbing up cliff edges and then jumping back in too! The latter being the adrenaline inducing bit.
Out coasteering session was with ‘Adelong Outdoors‘, an outdoor experience company based near Torquay. Our setting the idyllic Anstey’s Cove and the base of the infamous Sanctuary Wall climbing site. This geopark providing the ideal combination of rocks, gullies and caves for our coasteering exploits.
On the day we were greeted by Charlie and Alex who swiftly kitted us out in wetsuits, helmets and buoyancy aids. Gloves were an optional extra for those of us with soft office hands. All we had to bring along was a pair of tatty shorts (to go over the top of their wetsuits), some swimwear (to go underneath), a towel, plus a pair of trainers to wear in the sea. I opted for running trainers with a bit of grip on the bottom over a pair of non-grippy Converse.
Our group consisted of an 11 man strong stag do so we all knew we had to “save face” and not wuss out of any of the jumps. After a training belly flop dive of approximately 1ft, and a rocky traverse above, the first jump was set at a height of just 4m, high enough to get you thinking but nothing compared to what what was to come.
A couple of hours of entertainment followed with the coup de grâce being a 9m high jump towards the far end of the bay. Now that’s 1m less than the platform Tom Daley dives off in his Speedos, and we were decked out in wetsuits and helmets. But when you’re on a craggy rock edge that high up, having to make sure you take a big stride out to clear the rock face jutting out a few metres below you, the “support” of the guys already in the water looking up doesn’t do anything to calm you down. Now this sort of height is sufficient to give you a funny sensation in your stomach as it tries to stay where it is as you fall through it.
One of our instructors had a waterproof camera to capture our “epic” leaps, and both were calming and very professional giving clear instructions on which direction to jump when perched on the cliff edge (to avoid the odd submerged rock). I later found out that Alex is an ex-Royal Marine Commando so presumably he’d jumped from higher, in the dark, in the cold, in fall combats, wearing a heavy rucksack, so maybe we weren’t that brave after all!
- Try to look out into the distance when you’re about to jump in, rather than down as otherwise you’ll realise how high up you are.
- Don’t dilly-dally at the edge, land vertically and don’t look down at the last second as otherwise you’ll get a 20mph slap to the face.
- Try not to be that last person to jump as otherwise you’ll have the rest of your group smugly looking up at you.
- Grippy trainers.
- Remember that Tom Daley dives in head first, and from higher up, and just in Speedos so what can go wrong 🙂