Coast Steering or Coasteering?

So what is this activity we specialise in called, and how do we say it? Is it Coast Steering, or Coasteering? The most commonly made mispronunciation of the word is Coast Steering. Presumably, people think it has something to do with 'steering' a course, or navigating one's way along the coastline.

It is in fact Coasteering. So how does that work, and where does that word come from? The suffix -eer, or -eering originally applied to French words e.g. pioneer, with the -eer suffix denoting a person that is significantly related to the base word. Take how engineer relates to engine, as a good example. A more complete grammatical definition of the -eer suffix can be found here. So that still doesn't make any sense, does it?! OK, so let's now think of words like mountaineer, someone who climbs mountains, or orienteering, the activity of navigating a set course. Hence we have coasteering - the activity we know and love, negotiating one's way along a rocky section of the coastline. As with most other -eering based words, the stress is on the suffix itself, therefore we pronounce it coastEERing. Like orienteering, coasteering refers to the activity itself. Unlike mountaineer, a coasteer is not someone who does coasteering, but usually refers to a single session of coasteerring: "We had a fantastic coasteer with Kernow Coasteering this morning!" It is also a verb - to coasteer along the cliffs. The only form I have heard for someone who does coasteering is a 'coasteerer'.

The first published use of the word coasteering appears to come from the authors John Cleare and Robin Collumb who coined the phrase in their 1973 book Sea Cliff Climbing. However, its earliest usages may have referred to sea-level traversing, rather than coasteering as we know it today. In other words using rock climbing techniques and equipment to traverse cliffs very close to sea-level, without getting wet, to reach specific rock climbs, or as a means or exploration in its own right.