Penzance, Cornwall, England.
Coasteering is a potentially dangerous sport if carried out by amateurs. It is also one of the activities offered by Cornwall Outdoor Adventure Training Sport, (COAST). These guys have been doing coasteering for many years and are anything but amateurs.
I first heard of coasteering in 1999. I was down in Cornwall looking for something new to do and found an advert in a local Youth Hostel for COAST. It detailed the different activities they offered, (karting, golf, etc) but the coasteering really caught my eye. It showed pictures of people jumping into the sea from some fairly high cliffs. This looked like an extreme sport.
I went along with four friends and met one of the guides, Phil. He told us about what we would expect and did the usual health and safety checks. After that, we were issued with our kit. This comprised a wet suit, life jacket and helmet. Once dressed, we jumped into the vehicles and headed down to our start point. Once there, we again we went over the safety procedures. It was now time to get going.
We started with a walk/swim through a short stretch of sea, from a beach to some rocks. Once onto the rocks we scrambled around for a bit until we came to our first jump.
This was not a huge jump (about 3 metres high) into a big rock pool. This was a good opportunity to get some practise jumps in. Phil demonstrated how to jump safely. Then it was down to us to follow suit. After having had several jumps it was time to move on.
The next stage was to cross a rougher but shorter piece of water. With this section, we had to watch the waves and enter the water when the waves were just right. This is were you need a professional guide. It could be very easy to get this wrong and end up getting into trouble. Phil knew exactly what he was doing and got all five of us across this section without any trouble.
The trip was made up of lots of different sections. Some of these were very easy and others were much more challenging. Later on we had some big jumps. The biggest one that we got to do was around 10 metres high. This may not sound that high, but when you are aiming to land in a rocky inlet with waves crashing around it, it feels really scary. But after making the jump, you feel fantastic! Unfortunately, we were unable to do the big one. This is a jump of over 15 metres. There were a few grateful sighs when Phil showed us the jump, but said that the sea was too rough to jump into. After that, we retraced our steps back to the beach, with a few more small jumps and a final swim back to the beach. Although there had been some scary stages, we all felt very safe with Phil.
If you fancy a bit of fun with a few challenges thrown in, coasteering is well worth looking into. And if you can get down to Cornwall, COAST are the boys!!