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Our experience coasteering in North Wales, Porth Ruffydd

By Rose and Karla, student marine biologists Bangor University

During our coasteering experience with Matt, we saw the vast scenery of Wales along with diverse geology and wildlife. Our journey consisted of climbing over and across rocks, involving keeping good hand holds and footing on small cliffs, jumping from different heights into water, and swimming through small currents, deeper waters further from the rocks and even swimming in a cave!

Below will show our experience climbing, jumping and swimming in our coasteering journey in North Anglesey

During our coasteering experience with Matt, we saw a vast scenery along with diverse geology and wildlife. This moment was captured as we were preparing to start our coasteering journey. This entailed correctly fitting our safety equipment (i.e., wetsuits, helmet and buoyancy aid).

After traversing across the rocky landscape pictured behind us, we got to our first jump into the sea. This gave us our first taste of the water aspect of the day and it was such an experience to be emersed in such a breath taking coastline. We swam through some beautifully clear waters along the rocks and exited the water.

Continuing on we got onto the next portion of our journey, we adapted to learning to navigate the rocks by taking the path along the rocks using the right techniques for selecting hand holds and correct footing. As we got further along, the landscape opened up to show more of the coastline, giving an amazing atmosphere and view.

At this point in our climb, we found our path to be steeper than the last however, the route through was easy to find. In this photo, Matt is showing me the correct footing on the rock.

After jumping back into the water, we had a chance to take in the view as we swam through some deeper waters. We had clement weather conditions during our coasteering journey which meant that we found ourselves swimming through calm waters throughout.

We encountered such an amazing array of wildlife during our time with Matt. This is an example of one of the jellyfish we saw, we predominantly saw moon jellyfish (as pictured here). These were one of the highlights of the trip for me as they were so fascinating to look at! Also, a bonus was that it’s easy to avoid being stung even when up relatively close (still with taking caution of the tentacles which lengths depend on the species.)

A large aspect of this coasteering route I enjoyed was the ratio of swimming to climbing and walking. While climbing, you are able to go at your own pace across the rocks and then when they get flatter you are able to scramble onto them from the water and walk along them. This gave us chances along the day to either rest for a minute and took at some wildlife or the view or to catch a breather and tie a shoelace.

As we traversed across more rocky terrain and jumped into some more water we could experience my next highlight of the coasteering route we took – the currents! As the waters were calmer at this time, the currents seemed to be weaker however, were still amazing to swim through, especially in the parts with higher kelp densities; we were able to glide through it like ice.

Here is Karla with a piece of the kelp while we were swimming through the shallow waters before scrambling onto more rocks.

Exploring this beautiful landscape through the sea cliffs of North Anglesey provided us with the opportunity of seeing the diverse environments and allowed us to experience navigating the terrain.

We encountered a tremendous range of plant life and organisms such as sea squirts, an array of algae species, barnacles and seaweed! These were found throughout the adventure but concentrated mostly on this portion of the trip on the rocky sea cliffs.

We spent time admiring the vibrant colours of the waters while keeping careful footing near the algae. Low traction environments like this can be tricky if you’re not paying attention.

The sea cliffs we climbed while coasteering contained quartzite. In this photo you are able to see some examples of the diverse features of the rock which are used to our advantage when climbing, for example the quartzite has grooves in it that can be used to climb up.

Our environment continued to diversify as we continued on our journey; this picture shows the end of the cliff we climbed across (back left), another small section of water and kelp we swam through and then just behind where Karla is standing, we scrambled up the rocks.

This is us after swimming through another current! This experience of a current was fantastic as it was stronger than the last, this meant we could take in our surroundings while floating between the rocks.

After the series of small currents, we came out of the rocks into open waters. Here, we could see some beautiful geology including the salt deposits on the rocks which created one of the many stunning bits of scenery along the journey.

Here’s another one of the jellyfish we encountered, most are fine to go near but it’s still important to watch out for the tentacles!

This part of the journey consisted of swimming through rocks through another current with a bed of seaweed which was amazing to glide through!

Pictured here is some of the diverse species of seaweed we saw. This also shows the same current we swam through in the previous photo which took us through to more deeper waters.

After the last segment of swimming, we were ready for moving onto some more rocky terrain. Even though these rocks were relatively grippy, we still had to ensure careful footing while we continued traversing.

Slightly further along, we got to do some more manoeuvring across the steeper rocks. Even though there would only have been a short distance to fall, we still had to be relatively careful as the ledge tapered towards the end.

After walking along more rocks, we saw another current so we walked along the rocks until we got to the start of the current and hopped back into the water so we could travel through another current! Here you get a small taste of just how strong the water can be – especially when you have to get out of the current (as pictured here with me climbing back onto the rock exiting the water).

We the followed our path deeper into the rocks and found ourselves in some more jaw droppingly beautiful scenery. We then swam some more through the shallower waters and got to obstacles such as this big boulder that we had to find careful footing and hand holds over.

In environments of shallow water like in this cave in the photo, the rocks can be incredibly slippery which means that in this low grip environment we maintained care in our navigation.

This was evident where algae was growing in the direct sunlight as this is a perfect setting for the slippery algae to grow! I also learned why the helmet was necessary as moments prior to this I slipped over.

Here is an example of some of the climbing we got to do. Matt went up first and we watched the route he took up the rock – taking note of where he put his feet and hands. After we got over this rock, we scrambled along until we go to more water.

Here is me and Karla cooling off before the last stretch of the route. We swam along the coast while taking in more views, using our life jackets to float a bit while cooling down.

This photo gives a good view of the last small stretch of the coasteering trip. We carried on along these rocks and then came to a cave up on the left.

Matt told us about a seal he frequently sees in this area and how he once came across it in the cave while with a group and at the time they didn’t know what was in the cave making the noises and then the seal gave them a little jumpscare.

Here is us admiring the jellyfish in the water after we exited the cave.

In the top right, you can see a part of the rock that some people jump off! When we climbed that rock we didn’t go that far up so Karla jumped from a different bit. I sadly bottled out and so want to go back so I can have another go!

After I climbed down back into the water after Karla’s jump, we swam across the small cove to the last climb of the day (which you can see us doing in the photo). When we got to the top of this set of rocks, we had a relatively short but beautiful walk back to where the car was parked.


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