Sea kayaking in the Channel Islands and further afield
Coasteering is an exciting way to explore Jersey’s coastline. A mixture of scrambling over rocks, swimming across gaps and jumping is a few hours of high energy activity.
There are certain sections of the coastline, particularly in the south west and north west which are perfect for coasteering. The main rock, in the area, is granite, which erodes into ideal rock formations for exploration.
Before venturing along the base of cliffs it is important to have a knowledge of swell, weather and tidal conditions. If you don’t have the appropriate knowledge and skills then it is important to find a leader with the appropriate skills. There are a number commercial companies in Jersey which offer coasteering, Absolute Adventures, is a professional company, whilst the Jersey Canoe Club offers regular sessions throughout the year.
If you want an exciting and challenging activity then coasteering has to be the way forward. There are routes in Jersey to suit all ability and skill levels.
If there was any evidence needed that this winter the weather has been far more unsettled than last year it might be, that today was my first coasteering session of the year. Yet last winter we were out virtually every Friday coasteering. Jumping, swimming and scrambling our way around the coast.
I am almost embarrassed to admit but I am not certain that I have left from Fliquet before on any form of activity, although I have passed the area hundreds, if not thousands of times before. It was clear that I was going to exploring some new territory and I wasn’t disappointed. An enjoyable day and an encouraging start to coasteering in 2018.
Friday morning coasteering has become a regular event for those members of the Jersey Canoe Club, who are free. Today it would have been so easy to stay at home, drink coffee and eat cake, with the mist and fog coming and going, interspersed with some heavy rain.
By 9.30 I had run out of excuses so it was time to head to Beauport, one Jersey’s prettiest bays. It was interesting to see how high the sand was, a reflection of the calmer seas of the last week or so. The most obvious item in the bay though was part of a large private boat, which was washed up on the pebbles. There had been a failed salvage operation this week as the authorities attempted to raise the wreck of a 62 foot private boat, that sank last month after hitting a navigational mark.
On what was a day largely without colour we headed along the west side of Beauport, a mixture of swimming and scrambling along the rocks. We passed underneath the cliffs, which mark some of the highest jumps on the Island before reaching a section of narrow gullies. The westerly swell was channeled through the narrow sections creating some entertaining conditions, requiring timing when entering and exiting the water.
The sea temperature was slightly below 10 degrees, and with the rather inclement weather, we limited the coasteering session to 90 minutes. Climbing up the cliffs and heading off to find a local hostelry with a warm fire.
A pleasant way to spend the last Friday morning before Christmas.
My book “Coasteering: A Practical Guide” is still available from Amazon, for Kindle.
A strong, cold northerly wind meant that it was cold as we changed in the car park close to the German Tower at Corbiere. This was our selected venue for our Wednesday coasteering as we knew that once we dropped down the cliffs we would be sheltered from the strongest wind.
Our initial plan was to swim and scramble out to the Jument Rock, the obvious rock, which is painted white as a navigation mark. To get there involved a couple of short swims, with the opportunity to play in some of the narrow constrictions, which were funneling the swell.
I must have paddled past the white rock, almost a thousand times in the last 48 years that I have kayaked in the area but today was the first time that I have climbed to the top of this unique landmark. This was quickly followed by another first as we swam into some narrow caves, which I had never explored prior to today.
Despite the strong northerly wind and low temperatures our Wednesday coasteering session was thoroughly enjoyable. What was particularly memorable was the fact that we were able to visit a couple of locations that I hadn’t been to before. I have lived within a couple of miles of Jument rock for over 40 years and for the last 15 years have lived within a mile of the rock but had never found a reason or the time to go there, before today .
Sometimes we travel thousands of miles in search of adventure, often costing hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. The reality is that there might be plenty of adventure and places to discover much closer to home. Many years ago we coined the phrase “adventure in your own backyard”, to describe the sea kayaking trips we were undertaking in the Channel Islands. In the last 18 months we have explored Jersey’s coast by kayak or swimming, several times each week, realizing that within a few miles of where we live there are so many special places.
My book on Coasteering, providing advice on techniques and safety is available for the Kindle from Amazon. Further information about the book is available here.
It appears that we have merged into a Friday coasteering group. Heading out each to explore another section of the Jersey coastline at sea level. As with kayaking, living on an island has its advantages as it is almost always possible to find somewhere appropriate, whatever the weather.
This week it was a return visit to the cliffs just to the west of Portelet Bay. This section is always best to do just a couple of hours either side of high water. The tide has just started to drop as we hit the beach, which was perfect. In the middle of the bay is Ile au Guerdain, with its 18th Century fortifications. Often referred to as Janvrin’s Tomb.
After a short swim around the rocks in the middle of the bay we were soon onto the coasteering. A stretch of coast with a variety of jumps, caves, scrambles and swims. A perfect place to spend a couple of hours on a overcast November Friday morning. What surprises me about this coasteering route is that I have never seen anybody else in the area whilst we have been there or even heard people talk about it as a possibility for coasteering.
The evening of Saturday 18th November is the annual dinner of the Jersey Club Club at the Prince of Wales, Greve de Lecq. A number of us decided to stay the night and so to take full advantage of the area we decided that an afternoon’s coasteering out to the Octopus Pool was in order.
The Octopus Pool is one of those places where generations of young people have gained experience of exploring the coast line of Jersey, jumping into rock pools and scrambling through caves. Over the last few years it has become increasingly popular with commercial groups. During the summer months it has probably reached full capacity on some days but on a Saturday in November we were fairly certain of having the place to ourselves.
Greve de Lecq is a popular venue with the Jersey Canoe Club because of the quality of the sea kayaking which is easily accessible but today the focus was on rock scrambling and swimming as opposed to paddling.
A great afternoon’s sport setting us up for a good annual dinner.
The cliffs of Grosnez mark the north west corner of Jersey, and it is an area rarely considered as a coasteering destination. Fully exposed to the westerly swell and with virtually no escape routes, this is not an area for the inexperienced. Today’s light winds and decaying swell drew us north in search of some watery entertainment.
We decided to travel west from Plemont to Grosnez, it meant that when we climbed up the cliffs we arrived at the cars, as opposed to having a 20 minute walk along the cliff path whilst wet.
This is a great section of the Jersey coastline for sea kayaking but today our progress was much slower but probably much more intimate as we scrambled along this remote section of the Islands coast.
Friday mornings have generally been reserved for coasteering sessions for the Jersey Canoe Club and today was no exception. Today was the local schools half term so when we gathered in the car park above Portelet there were 17 of us, ranging in age from 6 to 61.
As we moved along the coast there were a number of other jumps plus the opportunity to explore a cave and an offshore reef. One of the most common misconceptions about coasteering is that it is all about jumping into the sea from great heights but nothing could be further from the truth. Coasteering is about a journey along the coast as opposed to just jumping from the highest cliff possible.
Portelet either side of high tide is a great location for coasteering, so many locations are turning into locations where there are just too many people, lines of people develop at the most popular jumping locations etc. Portelet though has always retain its uniqueness. I have never seen anybody else there whenever I have been coasteering in the area.
Coasteering is an activity, which receives negative press at times but in reality it is one of the most exciting ways to explore the coastal environment.
For those who are interested my book on Coasteering is still available from Amazon.