Wednesday Coasteering

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.

Wednesday coasteering
Swimming out towards the offshore reef. It was a very wintery sky that greeted us this morning
Wednesday coasteering
Jim swimming in one of the gullies we had to cross to reach the outer edge of the reef. At times conditions were quite entertaining!
Wednesday coasteering
On top of Jument Rock. Painted white for navigational purposes, I have paddled past this thousands of times but I had never stood on top before.
Wednesday coasteering
There were a few pleasant rock scrambles over the rocks. Generally we were sheltered from the northerly wind so it felt quite pleasant in the sunshine despite the 7ºC air temperature.
Wednesday coasteering
This cave is underneath the Radio Tower on the headland at Corbiere. It was another area that I hadn’t explored before

Friday Coasteering

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.

Friday Coasteering
This is the first jump as you traverse off the beach. The flat rock is clearly linked to the quarrying industry.
Friday Coasteering
When there is some swell running it is not always easy to jump into the water. Sometimes the easiest and safest is to a modified form of a belly flop when the swell is at its highest.
Friday Coasteering
Where the cliffs face directly out to sea there are a couple of superb jumps. Janet is flying through the air.
Friday coasteering
Sometimes getting out of the water is not as easy as it seems. Assessing the swell is essential to a safe and relatively easy exit.
Friday coasteering
The final jump of the day was from the rocks off Pt Le Fret. Getting to them required a swimming ferry glide across the ebbing tide.

Octopus Pool

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.

Octopus Pool
Jacob is really enthusiastic about coasteering and is really confident for a 6 year old, when moving across the rocks.
Octhopus pool
This stone always fascinates me as the letters have been carved with such care. It says the following ASL HFM 1839
Octopus Pool
It is always a challenge to dive to the bottom to get some sand or seaweed. Most young people fail as they don’t know how to dive. In this day and age it is almost impossible for young people to learn to dive, due to health and safety concerns diving is banned in virtually every swimming pool.
Octopus Pool
At low tide the Rhino was quite a reasonable jump today, about 10 metres in height.
Octopus Pool
Its always great to be able to return to Greve de Lecq through the cave which runs underneath the headland.

Grosnez Coasteering

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.

Grosnez
Just to the west of Plemont there is some entertaining scrambling. Coasteering is not all about big jumps and long swims.
Grosnez
There were a number of sections where scrambling along semi submerged reefs allowed us to make relatively fast progress.
Grosnez
Inside La Cotte a La Chevre, one of the the most important Neanderthal sites on the island.
Grosnez
Descending from La Cotte a la Chevre, in preparation for our next swim.
Grosnez
Scrambling along the rocks to the west of Le Vyi. We were beginning to feel the impact of the westerly swell hitting the cliffs when we were in the water.
Grosnez
The further west we moved the more the jumps appeared. This was apleasant, small jump into one of the small gullies to the easy of Grosnez.
Grosnez
Underneath Grosnez lighthouse. I would imagine that there are very few days in a year when peiople stand here. It is not an easy location to reach.
Grosnez
The exit point just to the south of Grosnez. There are some really big cliffs around here.

 

Friday morning coasteering in Jersey

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.

Coasteering
The first jump of the day. Always a good one to start with.
Coasteering
It is always good to practice get out of the water in calm conditions before become more challenging.

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.

Coasteering
Swimming into the cave between Portelet and Pt Le Fret.  The arrival of the swell created a variety water conditions within the confines of the cave.
Coasteering
The tide had just started to flow west so it was an entertaining swim across the channel to the reef off Pt Le Fret.
Coasteering
The final jump of the day. Another great session approaches its end, all that is left is the swim ashore and the scrambling up the cliffs.

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.

Coasteering – A Practical Guide

Coasteering Book Cover

Coasteering is the perfect activity to to accompany a days sea kayaking, or as an alternative challenge if you fancy something different when visiting the coast.
Over the years coasteering has received a significant amount of bad press, largely with the “popular media” referring to it as “tombstoning”.  With the appropriate training and equipment it is actually a very safe activity and has given tens of thousands of people many hours of pleasure.
Although many people consider it a relatively recent development, in Jersey, in small groups of friends, we were exploring the coastline in the 1970’s.  My research has uncovered evidence of people exploring the coastline of Great Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Many of these people had backgrounds in mountaineering.
Today, the people who are coasteering are as likely to have come from surfing and kayaking as they are from rock climbing.  Wet suits and buoyancy aids are the equipment of choice as opposed to ropes and boots.
Despite the adverse publicity coasteering is becoming more popular year after year.  Certain areas of the UK, such as Pembrokeshire and Cornwall have been seen as the main centres of coasteering activity but the popularity has spread.  Now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people enjoying the activity from the Channel Islands in the south to the Hebrides in the north, with regions such as Dorset in between.
In the past many people have relied upon commercial providers to run guided trips but more and more families and friends are discovering the pleasure of undertaking journeys along the base of cliffs, combining the skills of swimming and rock scrambling.
I have written this book in an attempt to provide people with basic information necessary to safely undertake this exciting activity.  It covers topics such as:
1. Equipment
2. Techniques
3. Leadership
4. Sea state and weather
The book is available for the Kindle from Amazon, and hopefully it will be useful resource for those people want to up coasteering.