Take the leap: coasteering on the Jurassic Coast

Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is a playground for coasteering, a joyful combination of swimming, scrambling and rock-jumping.

By Zane Henry
Published 3 Dec 2022, 10:00 GMT
The group of coasteerers link their hands and carefully make their way through the surf.

The group of coasteerers link their hands and carefully make their way through the surf.

Photograph by Stanley, a brand of PMI

One moment of weightlessness is worth seven on the ground. I’m keenly aware of this ancient calculus as I launch myself off the edge of a cliff overlooking churning blue water. I know enough to not look down but down comes anyway. My feet break the water, the wind goes out and all I can hear is the ocean in my head as the world is transformed into bubbles and salt. I open my eyes underwater and all I can see is roiling blue and tumbling green and I’m just so very thrilled to be here, doing this, instead of being at my desk on a Wednesday morning.

The razor sharp rocks of the Jurassic Coast makes it important to find one's footing.

Photograph by Stanley, a brand of PMI

I’d been invited by Stanley (they of the super-tough water bottles and other on-the-go vessels) to go coasteering off Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. I was unfamiliar with both the activity and the destination, but found it hard to say no to a bona fide adventure that’s just two and half hours away from London by train.

It turns out that coasteering is joyful and splashy and involves a bit of everything. You wriggle into a wetsuit, strap on a floatation vest, slap a helmet on and then fling yourself up and down the coastline through a combination of rock-climbing, spelunking, scrambling, swimming and, most thrillingly, leaping off rocks into the sea.

We set off on a grey morning in August, a brief respite between late-summer heat waves. The water is warm and looks like blue glass struck through by sunlight, something you’d more expect to see in an Indian Ocean archipelago, making it hard to believe I was in London a few hours ago.

There’s precious little sand on the Jurassic coast. Instead, the shoreline is composed mostly of jagged rocks that aren’t actual rock, but rather countless shells and marine-life detritus that have been compressed and fossilised into razor-sharp boulders and cliffs. If you look closely you can actually see the scallops and spirals of ancient creatures frozen in time. My fingers are scraped and laced with tiny cuts within minutes — thank God there are no blood-sniffing sharks in sight.

The guides continue their orientation and safety briefing while floating in the waves.

Photograph by Stanley, a brand of PMI

We swim about ten metres out to sea and have a little safety briefing and orientation bobbing in the swell. Here, I throw my head back and feel seawater tricking down the back of my wetsuit as I gaze up through patchwork clouds. I must zone out for a few seconds because I think I hear our guide say something about the last rock jump being 3,000ft high, which can’t be true.

We set off, everyone holding hands as we go around the first little promontory, like a waterlogged school trip. We can’t help but smile as we go, everyone visibly thrilled and splashing and clambering about like little kids. There are shouts of encouragement as we jump off a ledge into open water and have to swim to the next landing point. Kayakers whoop and holler at us as they paddle past, cheering as we leap.

We next swim into a cave — a yawning mouth invisible from the land. The water gets shallower as the light dims and we find ourselves in a small cavern with a floor tiled with gleaming shells. The walls are draped with bright green and deep maroon algae while tiny rock pipits flit about building nests in this place of safety. Sound is amplified and we talk in hushed tones without being told to.

Rock jumping is one of the most thrilling parts of coasteering.

Photograph by Stanley, a brand of PMI

Then it’s time for the big jump. We climb up a steep rock face, realising as we go that soon we’ll be making our back down in it in much quicker fashion. It’s not 3,000ft, certainly, but it does feel awfully high. One by one we go over the side. There are shouts of ‘Backflip! Backflip!’, that are met with some intrepid bellyflops. I see my friends break the surface to the sound of everyone hooting and hollering and seaweed trying to hug them.

It’s my turn and I look briefly in the direction of my London office. Then I leap, hanging in the air, weightless.

The group prepares to jump off the rock they just climbed.

Photograph by Stanley, a brand of PMI

Kit yourself out with Stanley: three products for your next adventure

Keeping yourself nourished and hydrated is very important when adventuring in the elements

Packed full of ingenuous features, the Trigger-Action Travel Mug is the perfect partner from commute to canoe or hike to city bike. Sip-on-the-go wherever you’re going with the Stanley Trigger-Action Travel Mug. It’s durable, stylish, portable, and keeps your drink nice and hot - or cold - for hours. RRP: £28.99.

This tough bottle is where it all started, built to withstand everything you can throw at it while preserving the temperature – hot or cold - of your favourite beverage. It’s slim enough to grip one-handed, the leakproof design features a twist-and-pour stopper and there’s an insulated lid that doubles as a cup. RRP: £44.99.

Featuring a satisfying push-button mechanism that enables easy access on the run, this handy bottle will keep drinks cold for 12 hours and retain iced drinks’ temperatures for up to 40 hours. RRP: £33.99.

For more information, visit uk.stanley1913.com or follow Stanley on Facebook and Instagram


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