Coasteering Wales and Kayaking in Pembrokeshire National Park
This post is a bit of a break from my normal posts but something I will be doing more of showing a bit of the other side of me away from my passion of cooking. I love to be in or around the water and swim in the sea around West Wales and the local rivers year round generally in just shorts whatever the time of year or water temp the feeling is so exhilarating after a swim in water between 7 and 12c most people give you strange looks when you are walking towards the sea in December in just shorts as they are wrapped up in all the winter gear drinking hot chocolate from the beach side cafe.
When I opened my birthday cards this year the one from my girlfriend and daughter had a message “enjoy your coasteering Wales and kayaking in St David’s”, coasteering is something i have wanted to do for quite a while now but have never managed to get around to it, I have done kayaking in the past and really enjoy the views it gives you as you explore areas of the coast seldom seen.
Pembrokeshire national park coastline
The backdrop to the days activities, the company that I was entrusting life and limb with to guide me along cliff faces and jumping from varying heights of cliffs was TYF Adventure, they were the innovators of coasteering and have an amazing ethos they are members of 1% For The Planet last year donating over 12k to rainforest protection saving an area the size of Wales this year the funds are going to EDUcat, Helping to transform young people into sustainable innovation change-makers. The challenges that eduCAT presents to pupils are real issues that organisations are experiencing in adapting to the immediate and long term impacts of sustainability, climate change, resource availability and food security.
They are also carbon neutral the first outdoor adventure company in the world to do this, all this shows that they not only take people on life changing, adrenalin filled adventures but they care for and protect the environment in which they do it, making sure that the generations to follow can enjoy these activities in the real world rather than via a video game console.
My guide for the days activities was John Byrom, after the formalities of form filling for emergency contacts etc John talked us through the morning plan and got us kitted out for the coasteering, wetsuit, buoyancy aid, helmets after all some of the jumps were around the 7m mark so safety is of paramount importance. After getting ready there was a 15 minute walk to where we would enter the water for the fun to begin, on the walk to St Nons we were told of the history of the area, St Nons is the birth place of St David the patron saint of Wales it is said that Non took shelter in a chapel during a particularly violent storm and gave birth to Dewi later to become Dewi Sant patron saint of Wales.
Our group for the day was 5 plus John, after the short walk along the coastal path we came to a grassy area and were informed this would be our entrance to the start point for the coasteering, to me and the group it looked like a rather large cliff face without John’s knowledge we would not have even known that you could reach the sea there, following his lead we made our way down to the waters edge well i say edge it was a couple of meters above the water and we were informed this would be a good start point, after my telling the group i generally swam in the sea year round san wetsuit it seemed I was to be the first in so in I went, what many people do not realise is that the sea temperature around this time of year is at its peak not the summer months that many think, the water was around 15c and with a wetsuit and wetsuit socks under my trainers the water was in my view perfect.
At our entry point is a very famous coasteering point known as the toilet, no not due to it being full of nasty things but due to the action the water takes it rises up a small gully then flushes back down, you are carried up by the surf then pulled back down my coming down was rather undignified I was thrown upside down and came down face first, this was a hell of a baptism to coasteering but an amazing adrenalin rush. We swam a short distance from this toilet and climbed along the cliff face coming to a jump of around 3m to cross to a small island with what we would discover was a jump that in fact was to be a belly flop to avoid shallow rocks to get back across to the main cliff face, the lower cliffs are covered in barnacles that make for amazing foot grips but not the kindest to hands. A few more jumps and we came to a cove that was called the under water challenge, the challenge being to dive and swim under water to the opposite side, swimming under water in just a wetsuit is a challenge itself due to buoyancy add in a buoyancy aid and it gets very difficult other than John the guide who I know believe is part fish due to him swimming there and part way back only 2 others made it all the way me not being one of them. Along the way John pointed out various wildlife including a number of sea anemone, birds and shellfish all adding to the experience.
We came to what was to be the pinnacle of the morning activity a cove with a cliff face that to all intents and purpose could have been carved out for coasteering jumps starting at around 4m it looked as if there were actual steps leading up to the highest jump we would do which was around 7m. After doing several jumps building up to the final jump I stood on the edge looking down, I am not afraid of heights but standing on a cliff edge 7m above the water was still a bit daunting but I took the plunge and threw myself off the cliff into the amazingly clear blue water, the adrenalin was running and the feeling was amazing, this is something people should add to there bucket lists of things to do.
After a swim back across the cove we climbed the rocks back to the coastal path John pointing out Samphire and sorrel along the way of course this was of interest to me being so much of a foodie. A walk back to the centre changing facilities before a break for lunch and then just myself and John doing an afternoon of kayaking.
Kayaking start point
Harbour entrance for kayaking
The afternoons activity was sea kayaking I was the only person doing this so after a short drive to the harbour at Porth Clais on the River Allun and a short walk along the coastal path to the harbour wall and the racks of TYF Adventure kayaks it was time to start exploring the stunning coastal national park from a view point many people never see, I was on a sit on kayak and john a traditional sit in, the weather had taken a turn for the worse from the morning sun and had started to rain this failed to put a damper on things and we set off.
We stayed close to the coast and explored a number of small channels some I had doubts the kayak would go through but with the surf it carried you through, being this close to the cliffs you see far more that you ever would whilst walking the coastal path or even on a tour boat as you could never get as close or access the places you can on a kayak. After a while we came to a channel that lead to Cathedral cave this was awe-inspiring and something very few people actually get to see the only way being by kayak.
Cathedral cave entrance
Despite the rain this was an amazing journey along our only coastal national park seeing wildlife up so close is always a pleasure being so in touch with their environment added to this.
After around two and a half hours and only due to my hips aching we made our way back to the harbour where we had started our journey.
This was without doubt one of the best days I have had in many a year and was an amazing birthday present.
I would like to thank John Byrom and all the staff at TYF Adventure for an adrenalin filled fantastic day, I can not think of many better ways to spend a day than exploring what is a national treasure in the coastal national park with people who care for it and enjoy showing others what it truly holds for us all to enjoy, if you get the chance do the coasteering it is a definite to add to any bucket list and will excite even the hardened adrenalin junkies out there.
I will be adding further pictures of the coasteering once the film is developed, yes film. So check back for them and without doubt further exploits of this nature, I fancy a bit of winter coasteering the chill adding to the rush.