Who knew throwing yourself off rocks into the sea could be so much fun?
Flying away from the cliff face, plunging into the fresh cold water, feeling it rush into your ears before bursting through the surface into the sunshine – it is all just so exhilarating.
Coasteering came about by accident, two weekends ago. Ben & I were in North Devon on an organised group surf trip, but it turned out, thanks to having an early glimpse of summer and the most beautiful calm weather, there were no waves for surfing.
The company we’d booked surf lessons with, Point Breaks, offered coasteering as an alternative option and the group decided to give it a go.
Being naturally cautious (read: a total wimp), I was super, super nervous. When we put on our wetsuits, helmets and life jackets, it was like someone had dressed up a grumpy seal for an adventure.
My legs were actually shaking when we stood on a small patch of Illfracombe beach for photos before setting out. We had two instructors from Point Breaks, who were brilliant, and they’d reassured a few of us beforehand that if there were any jumps we didn’t want to do, we could swim around.
Coasteering is a mixture of swimming, climbing and jumping, and you make your way around the coastline, responding to the challenges the landscape puts in your way. The spot of coastline we were working along was beautiful and our guides took us into some gorgeous little coves which felt like they could be somewhere in the Mediterranean (if it were a little warmer).
There were a few times I just leant back onto my life jacket, looked up at the sky, and let the sunshine soak onto my face while the water lapped around me.
And then my moment of relaxation was shattered by being told it was time to leap into the sea.
Although with each jump it felt like my knees were knocking together like a cartoon, somehow I managed to find a sense of adventure within me, and threw myself off the rocks and into the sea. There were a few super high jumps, one about 30ft which I didn’t do, but Ben went for it, and it did look amazing.
The climbing was also really good fun, edging along different rocks and pathways, trying to work out where to hold on to, and making sure we didn’t slip on any algae.
By the end of the session I was pretty glad to see the beach again, but only because my arms and legs were totally worn out. We were out in the sea for about two hours, and it was a real workout, although the time did fly by.
If you’d asked me at the start of the day what I thought about coasteering, I would have said it looked terrifying but actually I’m so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and discovered my (well-hidden) sense of adventure. It’s amazing the experiences you can have when you challenge your fears, and who knows, maybe next time I’ll tackle some of those bigger jumps too.