“Take a deep breath and look out to sea. Then just go with it!”
Next thing I knew, I was hurtling through the air and into the sea that just minutes earlier had been below me. Plunging into the depths, it felt as though I was never going to find the surface again when suddenly my life jacket kicked in and threw me back up, above the waves.
Looking back up at the rock that I had just jumped from, Chelsea was stood with her thumbs up and a huge smile on her face. And suddenly I found myself laughing.
Just moments before I had stood where Chelsea was now, questioning what exactly I had signed myself up for but bobbing around in the sea in that moment, I felt a calm wash over me and I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it was that I was now enjoying this gut-wrenching, jelly-inducing, experience.
I was coasteering with Active Escapes in Watermouth Cove, North Devon and despite what my mind was screaming at me from time-to-time, and what my face was portraying to the rest of my group, I was loving it.
A guide to coasteering in North Devon
What is coasteering?
Having never been coasteering before and never being organised enough to really look into these things before I sign myself up to them, I had no idea what to expect of my first experience of the sport. So, when Chelsea led us off across the rocks and up to a high vantage point to start us off, my legs went to jelly. Lucky for me, and the rest of my group who were waiting (incredibly patiently) in the water for me to join them, Chelsea was fantastically accommodating and took me down to a slightly lower (although still rather intimidating) area of the cliff. And that’s where my experience of coasteering began.
An adrenaline inducing experience, coasteering is (some might argue) the ultimate coastal activity. Involving climbing rocks, exploring caves, sea swimming and, you guessed it, cliff jumping, it’s a sport that definitely requires some level of fitness and, above all else, a lot of bravery. In short, it’s an exhausting but exhilarating experience.
Where to go coasteering in North Devon
While coasteering originated in Pembrokeshire in the 1980s, there are now numerous places across the country where you can try your hand at the extreme sport. Today, there are locations that are used for coasteering throughout Cornwall, Dorset, and Devon in particular, all of which will offer you an entirely unique way to explore their gorgeous coastlines.
But it was in North Devon that I had my first experience of the sport. Nestled below Watermouth Castle, Watermouth Cove in Illfracombe, North Devon is where you’ll find Active Escapes. A sheltered cove, with caves, gullies, cliffs and plenty of beaches, the private coastline is ideal for the number of sea-based activities that the company runs from there.
Boasting a number of other sports such as stand up paddle boarding, sea kayaking, rafting, adventure challenges, surfing and more, there’s also plenty else on other from Active Escapes at Watermouth Cove if coasteering isn’t really your thing.
Will you enjoy coasteering if you’re scared of heights?
In short. Yes and no. I spent a high percentage of the experience in slight terror, but with each jump I grew with confidence and even ended the session with a huge smile on my face. A definite bucket list tick, coasteering is something that I’m glad I did despite being scared of heights so if you’re feeling tempted, I’d urge you to push yourself to try it at least once!
Plus, if you go with a good company then they’ll make sure the experience is suitable for your entire group. From the moment I realised I wouldn’t be able to do any of the larger jumps, Chelsea from Active Escapes ensured that we reached spots across the coastline where the rest of my group could enjoy a more thrill-inducing jump, while I could enjoy a less heart-stopping one at the same time. Thanks to Chelsea we all got to enjoy our coasteering trip without me feeling as though I was holding the others back.
Practical tips and information for your coasteering experience
A three-hour coasteering session with Active Escapes is priced at £38 which, if you ask me, is excellent value for money. All you need to take with you on the day is your swim wear, a towel, and either some trainers that you don’t mind getting wet or a pair of sea shoes. You’ll then be provided with a full body wetsuit, lifejacket and a helmet.
Final thoughts on coasteering
Before trying it, I wouldn’t have ever thought of coasteering as a way of exploring Devon’s beautiful coastline. Now, having given it a go, it’s something that I would recommend to everyone. Thrilling, terrifying and testing all at once, coasteering in North Devon is an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry, but for all the right reasons.
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