23rd Jun 2012 10:19am | By Rebecca Kent
Forget the bubbly skylarks, industrious miner bees, and even the high-spirited bottlenose dolphins who make a pleasure garden of the Pembrokeshire coast.
There is only one creature I am developing an affinity with as I also try my darndest to relish this ‘playground’– the limpet. The conical molluscs are suction-capped in their thousands to the wave-battered limestone walls of the coast, tightening their grip with every vibration. I, too, am clinging to the jagged rock face, for a downward glance reveals the Irish sea – and it ain’t balmy down there.
But, just 20 minutes into this morning’s coasteering expedition, and this here city girl has warmed to the wild water. Quickly I realise how amenable this most beautiful stretch of the British coastline is – especially when I’m bedecked in a double wetsuit, a life jacket, helmet and booties. Plus, there are two local guides to give me faith I’m not going to be a shark’s dinner today.
I slide down a rocky slope, my buttocks wiping out barnacle colonies in one fell swoop, and throw myself straight into the drink, surrendering to the motion of the ocean, bouncing, tossing and turning in the washing-machine-like conditions. My fellow adventurers whoop and laugh, and I check I’m still wearing my wetsuit – just in case.
Coasteering is exhilarating. You get to explore a coastline at water level, face to face with jagged rock faces, ocean caves, unspoilt gullies, plus our feathered friends that soar above and the scaly critters that lurk below. It is the most exciting, and possibly the safest, way to get intimate with the big blue. And this particular area is the talk of the travelling cognoscenti, its path part of the recently completed route tracing the country’s entire 870-mile coastline. Lonely Planet has named it the greatest region on earth.
We explore that tomorrow. But for now, I’ve piled in a bus from our eco lodge in Mathry, through the countryside, to the ancient fishing village of Abercastle. It is here we find ourselves scrambling across lichen-raked rock walls, creeping through dark caves and clambering atop spongy, grass-covered cliffs. But, of course, what goes up must come down, and in this land of Welsh adventure and enterprise, where men are warriors, and the sheep are, erm, plentiful, it’s not the thrill factor that takes a southward turn, but us.
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