Sunday, August 10, 2014


The house that I used to live in was, without doubt, the best place to go if you wanted to know what the weather or swell was going to be doing for the next few days in North Cornwall; we worked, breathed and slept the forecast and it was normally displayed on at least one screen in the living area, and not because we surfed:  My housemates founded and run Cornish Rock Tors Ltd, an outdoor activity company specialising in coasteering and sea-kayaking, and are masters of reading weather forecasts because of the central role that it plays in operating their business.  

Coasteering is the pursuit of exploring a largely inaccessible stretch of coastline from the water with a guide: swimming, traversing across the base of cliffs, going in and out of coves and caves and, of course, jumping from the rocks into the water.  It's a journey involving many different disciplines and challenges, and has become an enormously popular summer activity around the south and west coasts of the UK.  My friends were one of the first providers to offer coasteering as an activity alongside sea-kayaking and climbing;  they swam the coast, plumb-lining the water depths beneath safe jumps, measured the effects of the swell and tides, and explored the multitude of caves with waterproof torches and glow-sticks.  It's a strictly controlled activity with a licensing body and some full-on insurance requirements, and as such it demands the utmost professionalism from guides.  That is why it is such a shame that when coasteering is featured in the national press the article is often beneath an attention-grabbing and sensationalist headline that does more to damage the industry through negative associations rather then applaud it for its stringent safety standards.  Tomb-stoning this is not.  Planned, assessed, controlled (as far as you can in the natural environment) and led by experienced and qualified local guides, it is.  

I recently headed out on a coasteering session with Cornish Rock Tors, the first time that I've been out with them in several years, with my camera rig in-tow to see what sort of imagery I could capture.  The stretch of coastline where they operate is truly stunning on a summer day (although I'm heavily biased because home is where the heart is) and never more so than when viewed from the water - a perspective that not many people ordinarily get to experience. 

I asked Jon (CRT's Head Guide) to wave to me from the top of this jump.  He misheard and instead pulled out his party-trick, this enormous back-flip.  Jon is an incredibly experienced guide and has perfected this "stunt" through a great deal of time spent training in a pool, so don't try and copy him.   

A moment of calm in the sea caves.

Cornwall looks positively Caribbean when the sun shines, with beautifully clear and turquoise water.

Whilst I was coasteering a kayaking group paddled past so I swam out into the bay to get some photos of them too.  They're able to travel further in a half-day session and access some really beautiful and remote coves and beaches further up the coast.  

If you're interested in exploring the Cornish coast from the water, learning more about the marine environment and perhaps jumping from a few rocks along the way then give Cornish Rock Tors a call. They offer guided coasteering, ecoasteering (with an emphasis on the marine environment), sea kayaking, wild swimming and climbing around the Polzeath and Port Isaac area, Cornwall.  

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