Taking the plunge with coasteering

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When a group of us decided it would be nice to hire a cottage for a weekend I had a clear picture in my mind of what lay ahead.

It basically involved quite a lot of cheese, even more red wine and the six of us sitting around a big open fire talking, eating and drinking into the small hours.

Having a go at coasteering in Wales

Having a go at coasteering in Wales

It definitely did not include jumping into the cold December sea from a rock face.

Unfortunately my friends had other ideas so as we headed to Pembrokeshire, in west Wales, my plans went out the window somewhere over the Severn Bridge.

We hired a three-bedroom cottage at Cwm Connell Coastal Cottages – a collection of six converted barns – four hours by car from Portsmouth set in six acres of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The cottage, at the end of a mile-long track, had a mix of lovely traditional features with all the modern luxuries you’d want, as well as the all-important open fire.

Cottage Bron y Felin - Pembrokeshire, Wales

Cottage Bron y Felin - Pembrokeshire, Wales

With the Pembrokeshire coastal path just a few minutes walk away it makes this the perfect place to relax, unwind and go for a wander.

But relaxing wasn’t on our agenda – coasteering was.

For those who aren’t sure, coasteering is a bit like white water rafting but without the raft.

You climb up on some rocks then throw yourself into the sea, swim a bit, drag yourself out and repeat the process until you’re completely exhausted. And it’s brilliant.

It may have been the middle of winter but the company provide wet suits, socks, hoods and gloves, as well as helmets and life jackets, and once you get over the initial shock of taking the plunge you don’t feel cold. Honestly.

In the end only half our group braved the water – and the 25ft drops – but those of that did had a great time and I would thoroughly recommend it.

You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer – children as young as eight can take part - and it’s a fantastic way to see the coast from a whole new dimension with guides who pick a route depending on your ability and confidence.

Having spent the morning in what felt like a giant washing machine we made our way back to the cottage.

Finally we were getting to how I had pictured the trip.

With the fire roaring the cottage provided a warm and welcoming return and the owners offer a load of games and DVDs if you want to put your feet up.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t quite as exhilarating but there’s plenty more to do in the area.

Just going for a walk along the coast you can spot Bottlenose dolphins and grey seals, plus a wide variety of birds including Razorbills, Guillimots and Gannets.

Or for £20 a day you can hire a bike and ride along a national cycle route that follows the Gwaun Valley from Fishguard via Newport to South Ceredigion.

The picturesque coastal towns of Newport and Cardigan are a few miles away, along with an array of award winning blue flag beaches.

Poppit Sands, with its huge beach with great views, is one I’d recommend.

Newport has some lovely pubs while Caridigan is a good spot for browsing in the independent shops and having a coffee.

So whether you’re after a bit of an adrenaline rush or a more relaxed pace there’s something for everyone. And while my trip wasn’t quite what I had planned it was certainly one to remember.

ESSENTIALS

Gareth stayed at Cwm Connell Coastal Cottages in Moylegrove, Pembrokeshire. Prices vary depending on the size of cottage and time of year.

For more information call 01239 881 691,email info@cwmconnell.co.uk or visit cwmconnell.co.uk.

Coasteering costs £35 per person for groups of six at this time of year with Celtic Quest Coasteering. Call 01348 881530, email info@celticquestcoasteering.com or visit celticquestcoasteering.com.

Cwm Connell Coastal Cottages are part of Premier Cottage’s collection of four and five-star properties. A week’s stay for six ranges from £470 to £955. A week for two people is from £310 to £540. Short breaks are also available. For more information go to premiercottages.co.uk or call 01239 881691.

For information on Newport Bike Hire, go to newportbikehire.com or call 01239 820 724.