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In September 2016, athletes gathered for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which stretches across a rugged margin of bays and beaches in Wales. Brawny and bold, the divers danced in midair before plummeting 88 feet, headfirst, into the shimmery, turquoise abyss of the Blue Lagoon.
Fast-forward a year and some change: I, too, found myself teetering at the edge of the same lagoon, mentally preparing for a much less graceful plunge from a considerably lower height. A professional diver, I am not — but what I lack in athletic aptitude, I make up for in irregular bouts of tenacity. Accordingly, I had decided to sign up for Preseli Venture’s coasteering tour, which is a half day of swimming, rock climbing, jumping, diving and sea-level traversing.
When I venture (tiptoe, really) outside my comfort zone, I prefer that my fate rests in the hands of experts such as Preseli Venture. In addition to running an eco-lodge and offering activities including surfing and sea kayaking, the local tour operator has led coasteering sessions for more than 25 years along the Pembrokeshire Coast — the same region where the multiactivity sport first became commercially recognized.
That day in March, Preseli Venture provided me a wetsuit and a floatation vest, as well as additional waterproof layers including a top, shorts, socks, a cap, gloves and a helmet. (Clients must bring their own bathing suit and water shoes.) These were barely a match for the frigid weather and even colder sea, but my buzzing anticipation for the adventures ahead won out against any trepidation.
Led by Miles and Lucy, our small group’s encouraging guides, we abandoned the pebbly Abereiddy Beach for its seaside cliffs and clambered over a slippery mess of tangled seaweed and drenched outcrops. Rolling waves became another hurdle as we swam into the Blue Lagoon, the setting for an impending series of cliff jumps and dives.
A former slate quarry that was breached by the sea, the roughly 82-foot-deep inland lake is a sight for sore eyes — which I begrudgingly admitted to myself as I stood from a craggy 15-foot overhang and recalled my acrophobia. Even still, I jumped not just once but thrice, each time from a cliff taller than the last.
Next time, though, I’ll probably chug a Red Bull beforehand.
Preseli Venture offers coasteering for individuals 8 years old and up, and the itinerary may vary depending on clients’ aptitude as well as the tide, swell and other weather conditions. Clients will be asked to change out of wetsuits on the public beach, but “changing robes” (ponchos) are available for rent or purchase.
The DetailsPreseli Venturewww.preseliventure.co.uk