SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 88

ornwall is located in the south-west peninsula of Great Britain and is well known for its towering cliffs of resistant rock. The natural rock formations along with the

exposed nature of the north coast make it a perfect destination spot for the adventure sport of coasteering.

Coasteering can involve many things but usually includes traversing or scrambling along rock formations, climbing and jumping from heights into deep water, riding water swells and caving. All of this is accomplished without the aid of harnesses or ropes. The only equipment used is a 5mm wetsuit, thick-soled wetsuit boots, a buoyancy aid and a helmet.

Located in Port Gaverne is adventure center, Cornish Rock Tors, who have been offering coasteering for ten years. For over six years, the center has been run by waterman Ben Spicer who customizes each coasteering experience to fit the wishes of the adventurer.

“There are usually four to five emails exchanged before we meet a group on the beach,” says Spicer. “We like to mix things up and don’t use predefined routes. Coasteering is under your own power and steam and we facilitate getting the adventurers into areas they want to experience.”

Long thought of as a high-octane adrenalin activity, Cornish Rock Tors is focused on making coasteering accessible to everyone. That can include a group of 10 year-olds along with their mothers.

“This is such a dynamic craggy environment with a lot of nooks and crannies,” Spicer says. “We can adjust the swimming gaps, the scrambling time, and the jump heights to fit the needs of each group.”

A typical coasteering session lasts around three hours with two hours being in the water or on the rocks. Peak season in Cornwall runs from April to October with sea temperatures ranging from 13 to 18 degrees Celsius. The group sizes can be from four to ten people.

The waters off the North Cornwall coast can be quite rough and all of the guides with Cornish Rock Tors, in addition to being lifeguards, receive training from marine conservation officers at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. They also operate under the outlines of the National Coasteering Charter on best practices for things such as wind limits and surf heights.

“We have scouted sites from Newquay to Bude and we know what areas are safe to access,” says Spicer. “Depending on the adventurer, we can even take them rock jumping inside of a cave.”

There is an abundance of marine ecology along the Cornwall coast and the guides can help explain and find both living and non-living things. Among the wonders to be discovered are crabs, starfish, sunfish, anemones, minerals and cold-water corals.

“One of the interesting things about our location is that you can be near a bay with houses, and just around the corner is an isolated area,” says team member Mat Arney. “For people that live in suburbia, this is a world away for them.”

A reward for everyone on the Cornish Rock Tors team is the sense of accomplishment that they see from their adventurers when one of them exceeds their expectations.

“Every day there are people who push their own boundaries whether it be anxieties about deep water or a fear of heights,” Arney says. “There have been people who have said to us afterwards, that it was the most mental two hours they have ever experienced.”

About 40 miles south of Port Gaverne is a second locale for Cornish Rock Tors in the calmer, sandy areas of the Roseland Beaches. Ben Spicer can be found at either location and between the two sites, in addition to coasteering, they offer wild swimming, sea kayaking, rock climbing, ecoasteering and adventure weekends.

Spicer is a classic example of what people refer to as a waterman; that being a person fully in-tune with the ocean, enjoying all aspects of it and what it has to offer. Just working on the water isn’t enough for Spicer.

“In my free time if I can’t be surfing, I want to be on a boat,” Spicer says. “This is my playground and I can’t get enough of it.”

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February 2017 - Sustainable Travel

88 - SEVENSEAS