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Coasteering near Porthclais, Pembrokeshire
Coasteering near Porthclais, Pembrokeshire

Coasteering is a physical activity that encompasses movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft. The term was used by John Cleare as the combination of the words "mountaineering" and "coast".[1] and was coined separately by Andy Middleton in Wales in 1985, who then made it a business idea.[2]

Coasteering may include all or some of the following:

A defining factor of coasteering is the opportunity provided by the marine geology for moving in the “impact zone” where water, waves, rocks, gullies, caves etc., come together to provide a very high energy environment.


Although all aspects of coasteering have been informally practised by people for a very long time, if only as a means of access to a cut-off cove beyond a headland, the term appears first to have been used in 1973. In the book Sea Cliff Climbing, John Cleare and Robin Collomb said "A few enthusiasts believe that coasteering will become popular and has a big future".

In 1985, it emerged as a commercially guided recreational activity initially along the cliff coastline of St.Davids in Pembrokeshire in Wales. By the mid 1990s write-ups started appearing in the travel/recreational pages of the newspapers showing that several commercial companies were offering such activity.

In 1999, [[The TYF Group Ltd[5]]] licensed a trademark incorporating the word "Coasteering" in a distinctive script with the intention of creating the highest safety and environmental standards of any outdoor sport. The word was by then in general use to describe the activity and few other operators had much interest in environmental practice.

The activity then spread to all regions of the UK where there are suitable rocky coasts, including Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, Anglesey and the Highlands and Isles of Scotland.

The advisory organisation for coasteering is the National Coasteering Charter (NCC).[2]

In the UK the activity is recognized by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority which is a department of the Health and Safety Executive.

Guided adventure experience

The rocky cliff coasts of western Britain provide the world's principal location for organised guided coasteering, where it is available from over 100 activity centres.[6] Usually half day or one day trips are offered at a variety of levels catering for beginners, intermediates and advanced. Some trips are especially slanted towards study of the coastal ecology.

Some centres cater for parties of school children.

Adventure races

Coasteering may be included as one of the disciplines for a stage of an adventure race. This is especially common in New Zealand, but is also to be found in Australia, Canada, and the USA.


In the UK, the HSE has an information sheet of good practice for the Adventure Activities Industry [1].

Basic safety equipment

Safety equipment reflects the environment in which the sport is performed and often includes:


Because of the diverse practices involved in the sport there are a number of hazards.[7]

Places known for Coasteering

See also


  1. ^ Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2011
  2. ^ a b "All About the NCC….. – National Coasteering Charter". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  3. ^ "ABOUT". coasteeringsouthwest. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Sea Level Traversing". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  5. ^
  6. ^ List of AALA Recognized Providers for Combined Rock and Water Activities
  7. ^ "HSE Information Sheet for Combined Water and Rock Activities" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-05-26. Retrieved 2005-07-06.
  8. ^ Kolich, Heather. "How Cliff Diving Works". how stuff works. p. 4. Archived from the original on 6 March 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.