What to expect
Coasteering is an adventurous way to explore beautiful coastlines. It typically involves a combination of sea swimming, scrambling, climbing and cliff jumping, but no two trips are ever quite the same, because this activity is shaped by the location, tide and ever-changing coastal landscape. Although people have been exploring British coastlines in this way for many moons, coasteering as we know it today (a commercial, guided adventure) emerged in the mid-80s in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and has since spread all across the rocky coasts of the UK.
What you’ll learn
Coasteering is a fantastic form of exploration, in all senses of the word. Firstly, it’s a chance to explore the beautiful wildlife, scenery and thrills that await you along magnificent coastlines. Secondly, it’s a chance to step out of your comfort zone and explore your personal boundaries and expectations.
You’ll be experiencing areas of coastline most people never see! The type of routes taken on coasteering trips aren’t the sort you stumble across. Guides will be able to show you cliff faces, rocky stacks, caves and rock shelves that many don’t even know exist, as they’re not visible or easily accessible from popular beaches. This also gives you a chance to encounter wildlife that thrives away from human activity.
- If you haven’t had a dip for a while, go out for a swim first. Most providers suggest that participants should be able to swim 50m unassisted and feel comfortable in deep water. So, if you haven’t been swimming in a while, you should check your fitness before you go.
- It can be a bit chilly, bring warm clothes for later. For the activity itself, the people running it will typically provide a nice, thick wetsuit to keep you warm in the water, but make sure you’re prepared with a towel and warm clothes for afterwards.
- You don’t have to do the jumps. If you’re uncomfortable being up high, then that’s not a problem. You might want to let your provider know at the start. Jumps will generally start from low heights, so you can step up to the challenge if you wish, but no one will want or expect you to do anything that you’re not happy to do.
- Coasteering is governed by the tide. This means that the time of the sessions advertised might vary greatly. If you’re after a slot at a certain time of day, be sure to speak to your provider well in advance about dates and times that could fit with your schedule.
You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
Climbing and abseiling:
- Everyone must wear a helmet whilst climbing or abseiling on natural rock or if a novice, further exemptions apply.
- Make sure that all equipment is fit for purpose and in good condition.
- When walking directly to or from a mutli pitch climb the party size may be less than 4, otherwise follow 9.32 party sizes.
Be safe in water:
Everyone should be able to swim 50m wearing the clothing or equipment for the activity. Non-swimmers will need additional support.
Water can be dangerous - be aware of the risks.
The category of water depends on how safe the water is. Use our waterways directory to check.
Be sure to manage the group when near water, keeping everyone safe.
- If paddling do a risk assessment, make sure you have appropriate safety cover in place and that everyone is visible above water at all times.
- Swimming is defined in POR 9.13.9
- Manage your swimming activity in line with the swimming rules and guidance.
- Manage a Scout owned swimming pool in line with HSE 179 Managing Health and Safety in Swimming pools
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.
You don't need a permit if the elements used do not fall within the adventurous activity permit scheme.
Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
- The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
- Mountain Training - Mountain Instructor Award (MIA)
The provider must have public liability insurance.
When speaking to a coasteering professional, you’ll quickly find out that there’s a great deal of options available to you and this activity presents a fantastic opportunity to shape your own adventure. How could you adapt your coasteering adventure to make sure that the group don’t harm or disrupt natural rock formations, local wildlife or the shape of the landscape while taking part?
Before the trip, everyone should chat together about how they can best support one another to overcome any worries people might have and each set yourselves personal challenges.
Coasteering can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group. Make sure you give them plenty of notice.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.
Other ways to explore coastlines include sea kayaking and sea cliff climbing. Depending on which bits of the coasteering you enjoyed the most, you could think about one of these activities. Sea cliff climbing could be good for those who enjoyed clambering up rocks and being up high. Sea kayaking, on the other hand, might be for those who were more excited being near water and those hoping to catch a glimpse of some local wildlife.
Leaders and helpers should encourage young people to speak up and talk to their provider about what they’re most excited about and how they’d like to be challenged on the day.