Enjoy the coast with respect for wildlife

Michael Curry from Adventure Northumberland and Iain Robson, natural environment and access officer for the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB) Partnership sign the code of conduct Ref: JCNG 130613coast1
Michael Curry from Adventure Northumberland and Iain Robson, natural environment and access officer for the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB) Partnership sign the code of conduct Ref: JCNG 130613coast1

The organisations charged with looking after the north Northumberland coast and outdoor specialists have agreed a code of conduct for a popular new activity.

Coasteering is a relatively new activity on the Northumberland coast, but it has been around in places like Pembrokeshire and Cornwall since the 1960s.

Michael Curry, from Alnwick-based Adventure Northumberland, said: “Coasteering usually involves a mixture of rock climbing, swimming, scrambling and jumping, all taking place a few metres above or below sea level.”

Some sections of the Northumberland coast provide an ideal place to enjoy coasteering, particularly where the whin sill meets the sea.

These places host important breeding seabird colonies, rare plants and lichens and under the water, delicate creatures such as sponges, corals and sea squirts live on the rocky reef.

Atlantic grey seals can be seen bobbing on the water and are also a protected species

Iain Robson, natural environment and access officer for the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB) Partnership, said: “We have worked with the outdoor activity operators, Natural England and National Trust to agree a code of conduct for professional guides and individuals taking part in coasteering.

“The code should ensure that people can enjoy this activity while minimising the impact of it on the special wildlife we have.”

Michael said: “The wildlife and habitats on our coast are protected by law from damage and disturbance and as coasteering guides we have a responsibility to lead our activities on the coast with minimal impact to the environment and with respect for wildlife and other users of the coast.

“Coasteering is great fun, particularly on a sunny day with blue skies and a few small waves, but should not be underestimated.

“A sudden change in the weather, tides or swell conditions can turn any trip into a serious undertaking so you should always go with a qualified guide.

“Proper equipment and, more importantly, detailed knowledge of the environment, first aid and sea conditions are essential for a successful trip.”

The coasteering code of conduct can be downloaded from the Northumberland Coast AONB website – www.north umberlandcoastaonb.org

The Northumberland Coast has been designated an AONB since 1958 in recognition of the quality of the landscape.

The Northumberland Coast AONB covers 135 sq km, between Berwick and the Coquet estuary.