There’s nothing I like more than bundling myself into a car and heading off on an adventure.
Most of the time it involves heading to an airport. But not this time. Oh no, I settled into the passenger seat of the car while Mr London Mum took to the wheel and drove us from our home all the way to Pembrokeshire in Wales.
I wish I could say I was a good companion on the road, but I’m not. After singing loudly to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” when it cropped up on Capital Radio, the station was quickly changed by a rather unbemused Mr London Mum who decided to listen to his usual crud.
We have a rule, whoever drives gets to pick the music. Plus his “crud” is probably more likely to be considered perfectly acceptable compared to what I listen to ;).
So with his music on I decided to shut my eyes… for pretty much the entire journey. I was child free, and I was fully taking advantage ;).
But it did mean the four hour journey was over in a flash (for me), and as we pulled into Preseli Venture Eco Lodge we started to get a little bit more excited.
After all this wasn’t any ordinary adventure. We were about to experience something pretty awesome in collaboration with Visit Wales.
We had agreed to throw ourselves into the cold coastal waters surrounding Pembrokeshire, all in the name of “finding our epic.”
Yes, we were going to try out coasteering, and there was no better place than the rugged, rocky sea cliffs on the Welsh coast to try out this adrenaline sport.
Preseli Venture Eco Lodge was the perfect base for our adventure. After turning up late in the evening, everything we could have wanted was taken care of. Our dinner was freshly prepared and we hungrily devoured it sitting by the fire.
A good homemade pasta bolognese hit the spot, as did the apple crumble with ice-cream that followed.
At the lodge everything is catered for. It just takes off the pressure and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the adventure- whether that’s just the one activity or a full weekender!
And trust me, you’ll be grateful that someone has prepared your breakfast and lined your stomach before you head out to jump off cliffs (as I was to find out the next morning).
After a good nights sleep in a private double room, and one hell of a good breakfast…
We all attentively listened to them when they arrived, and they settle my nerves immediately. None of us had to do anything we felt was out of our comfort level.
Our group consisted of about 9 Boston University students, currently doing a “semester” in London, ourselves of course and an older lady who had just arrived as she wasn’t staying at the Lodge. She had been booked on the activity by her husband as a Christmas present but he wimped out of doing it himself ;).
We were all kitted out in full on winter wetsuits and lifejackets before leaving the lodge and then we jumped into the mini van for a quick 5 minute drive down to the coast.
The grey day didn’t exactly make the water look inviting, but one by one we walked into the sea until we couldn’t feel the sea bed anymore.
Our life jackets pulled us up as the cold water swirled around us. Sharp gasps were heard as cold water trickled down our backs and seeped in.
Strangely, although it starts off so unbelievably cold, in a matter of minutes you really don’t feel the cold anymore. I’m not sure if it’s the wetsuit, the adrenaline or the aggressive doggy paddling or perhaps a combination of all three, but the cold stopped seeping in.
And there I was floating around in March in the freezing Welsh waters, quite enjoying this novel view of the coast.
We made our way over to a rocky jutting out island. As we neared it the water picked up a current through a cave, and we had to fight against this when clinging onto the island edge. At no point did I feel unsafe though. Just exhilarated.
We clambered up the rocks, and one by one we jumped off a small cliff edge.
I say it was small, but actually standing up on the edge while looking down at the swirling sea below, it really doesn’t seem all that small.
With my heart beating fast and my need to overrule my brain; which was screaming at me to not jump, I plunged into the watery abyss.
I loved it.
We swam around the island; or in my case I held on to Mr London Mum’s feet as I realised I moved quicker that way, and clambered up onto another ledge while waves crashed over our heads.
One by one we made our way to the edge again. This time we weren’t going to jump. We were going to slide into the water and go through a cave.
It sounds simple enough, but the waves were coming through the cave quite strong, the swell of the water splashed as we fought our way through into the darkness.
We held hands to give us more power and strength as we fought the waves to come out the other side and back into the light.
It was amazing.
Across the sea we swam again to some more cliff jumps. Depending on the tides, one of the jumps reaches 35ft. The day we went it was about 22ft, but still a bit too high for me to manage. So I chickened out of that one, deciding to stick to the slightly smaller jump just below.
Down I plunged. My body just slipped straight under the surface of the water, and finally the life jacket pulled me back up to the surface again where I gulped in the fresh air. A big smile across my face.
Coasteering originated over 100 years ago in the UK, so there’s no better place to do this sport than right here. And with the coast in Pembrokeshire providing a manner of ways to enjoy the sea there couldn’t be a better spot.
With caves, rock arches, vertical rock faces and even Atlantic grey seals on occasion there is so much fun to be had. And no two adventures are the same due to the changing weather, tides and currents.
We all climbed up a big rocky sea cliff at the end of our adventure. All of us proud of what we’d achieved.
These anonymous people had become my companions and together we’d laughed, shrieked and helped each other throughout.
We quickly dried off (still surprisingly not cold), changed out of our wetsuits and into dry clothes and shared a hot chocolate before heading back to Preseli Lodge. Where a ploughman’s lunch and a hearty warm soup along with freshly baked bread was awaiting us.
After our lunch we got back on the road, jealous to be leaving behind the Boston University Students who were staying on at Preseli Lodge for another night to go hiking, surfing and kayaking as well.
We couldn’t have experienced a more enjoyable and adventurous time.
Our experience was booked by Virgin Experience Days and we couldn’t have dreamt up a more thrilling date if we tried. Sometimes as a couple we get comfortable in our home life, that we forget to do the fun things from time to time. It was one night of freedom as just us. And not us as parents.
Although I did say to Mr London Mum as we drove away, that I can’t wait to go on adventures like that with Little London when he’s old enough. Just as we take our lives as a couple for granted, sometimes family life can be taken for granted as well. A child will remember an experience like that with his parents for a lifetime.
(Disclosure: We were invited to try out a Virgin Experience Day with Visit Wales.)