Explore Swanage Coasteering. Discover The Best Locations & Providers In Dancing Ledge, Hedbury & More.
Coasteering is a hugely popular adventure activity, which involves braving a rocky coastline – scrambling and climbing to reach ledges and cliffs. Participants then jump into the sea below, plunging into the water and swimming.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Swanage area is one of the most popular parts of the UK coastline for coasteering. The rocky outcrops, and generally quite challenging seas mean that lots of outdoor activity providers run different levels of coasteering along the Jurassic Coast. There are lots of easily accessible and dramatic parts of the coastline that are perfect for enjoying this adrenaline-fuelled sport.
Amongst these is Dancing Ledge. In fact, this is one of, if not the most famous coasteering sites in the country. It is part of the Jurassic Coast on the Isle of Purbeck, just a couple of kilometres away from the heart of Swanage. The name of the ledge is inspired by the beautiful surface undulations that the waves create when they wash over the horizontal surfaces. If you stand above the ledge and watch the tide come in, you’ll notice that there is no shoreline as such, so the water appears to ‘dance’ over the ledge as the tide ebbs and swells over it.
The area around Dancing Ledge was originally used for quarrying. This meant that the main purpose of the now-famous ledge was to form a very steep drop into the sea, that was deep enough for small ships to come right up to the quarry. For many years that is exactly what they did, allowing them to pick up Purbeck stone and ship it around Europe. The small cliffs above the ledge have become a very popular location for all manner of watersports, but the higher limestone cliff is a great spot for coasteering.
There are a couple of access routes which will get you to Dancing Ledge, one popular route recommended by the National Trust is via Scratch Arse Ware. The unusual name is inspired by the local word for rough grassland used for the livestock grazing. This short route will take you via some spectacular views across the Jurassic Coast. You might even spot the local sculpture by Sarah Moore, of a Limousin cow, as you reach Dancing Ledge for your day of coasteering.
Further along the coast, you will find also find Hedbury Head, which is another popular spot for coasteering. This rocky outcrop is another favourite spot for lots of adventurous activities. It’s a base for several activity providers, with several offering longer expeditions which take groups between Dancing Ledge and Hedbury Head. Between these two steep climbs and high jumps, this makes for an exhausting but very exciting day of scrambling and swimming.
So if you’ve decided that Swanage is the perfect place to try coasteering, you’ll find no shortage of providers in the Swanage area who are willing to cater for all kinds of groups – whether that’s a school, family or even a stag or hen party. When choosing an activity provider, it’s worth doing your research to find a company that can offer exactly what you’re looking for. Most will provide wetsuits and safety gear as part of the upfront cost, but do make sure that this is the case when you book, to ensure you don’t get stung for any hidden extra costs. There are plenty of great companies who operate in the area, but here are a few of the very best that we know of.
Providers in the Swanage area
Land and Wave
Land and Wave are one of the best rated adventure providers in the area. They offer half-day packages – and you can also combine coasteering with some of their other activities, like their survival skills package, sea kayaking or paddle boarding. Given that the area is a popular choice for the expedition element of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, the company make a particular point of being willing to cater for DofE groups. An afternoon of coasteering can prove a very enjoyable way for Gold or Silver DofE groups to finish their time in the area.
Cumulus Outdoors offer similar half-day packages, and also have a particular selling point, in that they claim to be the only provider in the area with their own private parking, toilets and changing rooms. Cumulus Outdoors pride themselves on what they describe as their ‘challenge by choice’ culture. This doesn’t just apply to their coasteering packages, it is something they apply across all of their adventurous activities. This means that no matter how challenging the activity, participants will not be pressured into trying jumps that they do not feel comfortable with. This might be particularly beneficial for a mixed ability, or mixed age group.
Jim Oakley Adventures
Jim Oakley Adventures is another prominent activity provider, the company was founded by a former Royal Marine who prides himself on having a long history of providing adventurous training in the Swanage area. As well as morning and afternoon slots, there is also the option to try evening and moonlight slots. The company specialises in family groups, but also offer tailor-made packages to suit exactly what you’re looking for.