There’s no two ways about it, cliffs can be very dangerous. But with the right expertise and instruction, they can also be a lot of fun. The north coast of Cornwall has some truly exceptional coasteering opportunities, with waterfalls, deep pools, tiny islands and blowholes. It’s a completely different way to view the seaside – accompanied by a fairly serious shot of adrenaline.
You’ll be clad in a wetsuit (full immersion is all part of the plan) together with a helmet and a sturdy buoyancy aid, scrambling up, over and around the cliffs and rocks, intermittently in the water. Jumping from a variety of heights into the surf is as exhilarating as it sounds. Coasteering is all about exploring the places – caves, tiny coves and inlets – that normally remain inaccessible.
Coasteering is very dependent on tides and sea and weather conditions. It takes a guide with deep local knowledge and expertise to make this safe, so striking out on your own is absolutely not advised. You’ll also need a reasonable level of fitness for this one – it’s energetic and demanding.
Rock climbing in Cornwall is the flipside to coasteering – manoeuvring around the cliffs with the aim of staying dry – getting wet means it’s all gone wrong! There’s plenty of world-class climbing in the county – Bosigrain and Sennen in the far west have hundreds of long routes on the highest cliffs, towering 200 feet above the sea. These require solid experience and know-how; they should never be attempted by beginners without expert guidance.
Less extreme climbing can be found on Bodmin Moor, near the famous Cheesewring rocks. The old quarry here has easy climbs, ideal for novices – you’ll often find scout groups practicing their knot techniques and ‘top-roping’ up the sides of the rock. The views here are huge and spectacular – on a clear day you can see all the way to the coast. There’s an incredible sense of prehistoric wilderness that really intensifies the drama of rock climbing.
A guide is a must if you’d like a go at climbing in Cornwall – hurling yourself upwards from the bottom of a cliff without knowledge, experience and the right safety gear is almost guaranteed to end in disaster, but with an expert leading you, a day out ‘cragging’ is an intensely exciting way to explore Cornwall in all its vertical glory.
Newquay, Cornwall, 07891 264342
Whitecross Industrial Estate, Whitecross, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4HN, 01726 869162
Penhale Training Camp, Holywell Bay, Cornwall, TR8 5PF, 0800 781 6861/01637 831206
Cornish Rock Tors
The Gazebo, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6SS, 07791 534884