Taking the plunge: Cliff jumping – because life’s too short to stay on the edge

Taking the plunge: Cliff jumping – because life’s too short to stay on the edge

Cliff jumping is an extreme sport and not for the faint of heart; but why do people do it and is it really safe?

Colby Short, a 20-year-old indoor lifeguard, discovered cliff jumping seven years ago after seeing it online. He started with just small jumps on his own, he eventually joined a group and has tackled bigger jumps ever since.

The thrill of breaking personal records and the community spirit has been the highlights of his experience. His notable personal achievements include a 97-foot (29 meters) straight jump, jumping off Dorset’s ‘Durdle Door’ and his own trademark stunt…

Colby said: “I sometimes like to land on my rear on purpose, it is called a sofa jump.

“I just do it to give people a laugh, as a comedic stunt, and they all laugh. I don’t get any pain out of it because it is a calculated risk.”

NOTE: Do not try this type of jump, it is dangerous.

Growing up in Plymouth, South Devon, he always preferred the outdoors. At 13, he didn’t have many hobbies or interests; cliff jumping has given him a hobby and way to alleviate stresses.

His Plymouth group attracts a variety of people, from late teens to those hitting their 40s and 50s.

“We always put safety first, take debris checks and measure the depth. It’s vital to check every time because people could dump things. Also, if the jumps are more than 10 meters we always have some people in the water nearby,” James added.

Olympic diving boards only go up to 10 meters in size. A height often exceeded by their cliff jumping. The groups also lend out life jackets to those who want them.

Is cliff jumping popular?

James Williams-Fuller has been cliff jumping for around seven years. along with six others, he runs the Facebook page called ‘Cliff Jumping UK’ which has just shy of 1,000 members.

The group is similar Red Bull High-diving World Series, a internationally renowned cliff jumpin body.

James and his fellow Facebook organisers arrange cliff jumping events across the UK; with a current event being held in Scotland. They have two other tours planned in Devon and Snowden as well as an international ‘send’ which was in Mallorca at the start of this year.

Red Bull Divers and Gymnasts have joined the ‘Cliff Jumping UK’ Facebook Group.

James explained: “I started cliff jumping because I competed in skiing and was never that good at doing tricks, I was trying to get better at backflips.”

“I came across the group which had a couple hundred people but its grown from there and now I am an admin.”

He has knocked himself out twice whilst jumping and winded himself multiple times! James and a few others have jumped over 30 meters, which is greater than the Red Bull High-diving height of 27 meters!

“I was the first person to do a double somersault over 102 feet which was 31 meters.”

With another individual achieving the feat, he will attempt to re-break the record later this year.

James warns that the safety measures for cliff jumping are vast. From swimmers not getting out of quarries, sea tides sweeping swimmers away, river’s having undercuts; or debris under the water.

He recommends newbies learn with experienced groups. It is important not to push yourself with heights or stunts.

James warned: “If you crash from 10 meters its bruising or sometimes a few broken bones but not too bad. From 20 meters its pretty savage.

“I broke my coccyx’s from 16 meters and my friend split his pelvis in half from 27 meters at a competition, you need to know 100% on how you’ll land.”

WARNING: If sensitive to height, James jumps off a high cliff earlier this year in Teneriffe.

Why do people go cliff jumping?

Cliff jumping is described as an ‘extreme addictive sport’. Jumpers often seek the adrenaline buzz of their jumps, but the best way to understand the calculated insanity of cliff jumping is to understand why people start in the first place.

Craig Whittenbury, a 40-year-old ‘garden fencer’ from Oxford, is a single father with three sons aged eight, 10 and 12.

Craig calls cliff jumping his ‘Freedom Machine’.

In 2022, he took his children to Wales and completed the ‘Four Waterfalls Walk’ which was recommended by friends; he noticed people doing cliff jumps and wanted to join, in hope of overcoming his fear of heights.

Craig said: “I have vertigo and was scared but I went off the edge and didn’t think about it, my kids screamed but it was too late!

“I Popped out of water and it took five minutes to catch my breath; but the feeling was out of this world and beyond my limits with what I believed I could do with my phobia. For the whole rest of the day, I was ecstatic.”

Craig calls cliff jumping his ‘freedom machine’ and has since jumped regularly with the Facebook group.

When he posted the video of his first jump into the group he received 67 likes and numerous messages of support from the community.

Craig’s First ever cliff jump.

“I have never had a negative comment! It’s a great experience even if you don’t jump and the events are great communities to be involved with,” Craig said.

“I always say ‘You’re only two steps away’, so I just throw myself in the deep end.”


At Nine To Alive, we do not recommend anyone cliff jump alone or without safety gear or checks.

Speak to experts and learn how to do it safely before doing any jump, every year people die cliff jumping.

So, while the sport has some amazing attributes, it comes with risk. Happy jumping!

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