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Ghyll scrambling

Explore rivers and streams and have an adventure with climbs, ropes, and pools.
Plan a session with this activity

What to expect

Ghyll scrambling’s also known as gorge walking. It involves exploring rivers and streams by jumping right in – literally! Depending on your route, you may find yourself climbing steep rocky sections, sliding down smooth slopes, jumping into big pools, or even trying some roped climbing or abseiling.

Handy hints

  • Choose your challenge. Give everyone the option of trying or passing some of the harder challenges in the ghyll. Not everyone’s comfort and challenge zones are the same – one person’s fun challenge may be a step too far for someone else, so listen carefully to everyone.
  • Grab a brew. Ghyll scrambling’s often a wintery activity because it needs plenty of water. A flask of soup (or hot water for drinks) is a welcome treat at the end.
  • Brave the elements. Getting in and out of water makes ghyll scrambling a chilly adventure! Make sure everyone’s equipped with wetsuits and windproof layers. They’ll need good shoes that can get wet (and will stay on their feet!) as well as a well-fitted buoyancy aid. A helmet’s also essential to protect your head – an added bonus is that it’ll keep it warm too.


You must always:

You must always:

9.2 Preparations: Check the weather forecast

Be safe on water:

Be safe in water:

9.42 Water activities - general: Everyone should be able to swim 50m wearing the clothing or equipment for the activity. Non-swimmers will need additional support.

Diseases and immersion: Water can be dangerous - be aware of the risks

9.44 Classification of waters: The category of water depends on how safe the water is. Use our waterways directory to check.

9.48 Activities near water: Be sure to manage the group when near water, keeping everyone safe. 

Climbing and abseiling:
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
  • The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group

    • You don't need a permit if the elements used do not fall within the adventurous activity permit scheme.

    • Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.

You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
    • Mountaining Training UK - Mountain Instructor Award (MIA) qualified
    • Adventure Mark - centre accredited
  • The provider must have public liability insurance


Combined water and rock activities


Ghyll scrambling was a great way to try new things. Did people find it easy, or was it outside of their comfort zone? Do people think they learn lots when they’re outside of their comfort zone trying something new? Which bits of ghyll scrambling were totally new to people? Would people like to try other new adventures?

Ghyll scrambling also needed people to be courageous. Being brave means something different to everyone. For some people, putting their equipment on and taking a single step meant facing their fears. Others may have taken a literal leap of faith into a big pool! People react to things differently: being brave is about people testing their limits and pushing themselves, it’s not about who gets the highest or furthest.