Put your guts to the test by coasteering along the Welsh coastline in Pembrokeshire, writes Nellie Huang
At the ledge of a 4.6-metre cliff, my senses have gone into overdrive. My heart pounds as loudly as
the crashing waves, my head spins in a hypnotic trance and my nerves are at the brink of bursting.
I’m about to jump off a rock-strewn cliff – an ideal place for an amateur to get splattered and smashed. No thanks.
But my legs seem to have a life of their own. Before I know it, I am free-falling towards the ferocious waters. An overwhelming wave of adrenalin shoots through my body like an electric current. Letting out a triumphant cheer, my head is giddy with exhilaration. This must be what they call a natural high.
What is coasteering?
I am in the scenic countryside of Pembrokeshire, Wales, to try my hand at coasteering. The trendiest sport in town is a series of adventurous coastal exploration: navigating sea caves, clambering up natural rock arches, swimming with Atlantic grey seals (I did see one!) and the ultimate challenge – cliff-jumping.
Armed with a helmet, wetsuit and buoyancy jacket, my friends and I are taking part in a coasteering course with adventure outfitter, Preseli Venture.
Based in the town of Haverfordwest, we aren’t far from the stunning Pembrokeshire National Park.
This area offers a plethora of activities ranging from windsurfing, surfing and sea-kayaking to whale-watching and flying lessons, yet it’s not far from the bustling town centre, museums and cultural sites.
We weave through the rolling green meadows and wooded estuaries of the Welsh countryside to get to the rugged Pembrokeshire coastline.
Studded with plundering cliffs and craggy rock formations, the scenic coast is as stunning as it is intimidating.
Before starting our navigation, our lead instructor Jon Kellie, gives us a crash course. “Coasteering is not as dangerous as it looks. As long as you follow our instructions and not veer off-course, we won’t be facing any risk,” he reassures.
In fact, the company has an impeccable safety record: 22 years and no casualties or major injuries.
Anyone can take part in coasteering, regardless of fitness level or experience.
Jumping off cliffs
Our first challenge is navigating a massive sea cave. The sub-zero water is so turbulent, it twirls us round like the insides of a washing machine, which results in roars of nervous laughter.
Led by instructor Libby Chivers, we start to clamber up the barnacle-studded rocks. From sea level, we leap off the rock surface to test our comfort level – easy peasy.
We hurl our drenched bodies further up the cliff. Thanks to the striated layers of these million-years-old rock formations, it is easier than I’d imagined. By the time we make it to our first jumping spot, the height is dizzying.
Making the first leap is petrifying but once I’m off the ground, I’m hooked.
The feeling is one of accomplishment and sheer thrill. By the time we scramble back to shore, we are red-faced and buzzing. Staring up at the plundering rock face towering over us, I realise I’ve also managed to conquer my fear of heights.
Whatever the reason, it was most definitely worth jumping off a cliff.
Eat, drink, sleep
Where to Drink:
Eddies (eddies-bar.co.uk), in the centre of Haverfordwest, has a dancefloor and snooker hall.
The Bristol Trader (bristoltrader.net) offers the widest range of ales and spirits in town and is located by the quay.
The Quay & the Venue (01437 765411) is a fixture in the local bar scene, featuring live music on weekends.
Where to Eat
Black Sheep (blacksheeprestaurant.co.uk) serves affordable modern European cuisine using produce from its farm. Lunch from £6.
The George’s Restaurant (thegeorges.uk.com) dishes up healthy foods with organic ingredients and the establishment features a therapy centre. Prices for lunch mains start from £7.95.
The Swan Inn in Little Haven (theswanlittlehaven.co.uk) is a cosy beachfront pub serving unpretentious good food. Lunch from £9.95.
Where to Sleep
Preseli Venture Ecolodge is (preseliventure.co.uk) built with sustainability in mind, with a private bar and outdoor bonfire. From £39pp including breakfast.
Hamilton Lodge hostel in Fishguard (hamiltonbackpackers.co.uk) is modern, and well-equipped. From £16pp.
Fish Trellyn Woodland camp (trellyn.co.uk) offers ‘glamping’ in luxurious yurts with wooden floors. Prices start from £475 per week for 4-6 people.
Need to know
•First Great Western trains depart regularly from London Paddington station to Swansea, Wales. From there, Arriva trains leave for Haverfordwest. Train fares from London starts from £26 each way and the total journey time is 4.5 hours. Preseli Venture arranges free transfers on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
•If you’re driving, Pembrokeshire is 4.5 hours from London and two hours from Cardiff. Hire a car at easycar.com/tntmagazine.
•For information about lesiure activities and attractions, see activitypembrokeshire.com
» Nellie Huang travelled with Preseli Venture (preseliventure.co.uk;
01348 837709) who offer a one-day coasteering course for £105pp. Preseli
Venture also offers Adrenalin Cocktail Adventure Weekends with prices