What to expect
Gorge walking’s also known as canyoning and ghyll scrambling. 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.
- Choose your challenge. Give everyone the option of trying or passing some of the harder challenges in the gorge. 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. Gorge walking’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 gorge walking 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:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
Be safe in water:
Everyone should be able to swim 50m wearing the clothing or equipment for the activity. Non-swimmers will need additional support.
Water can be dangerous - be aware of the risks.
The category of water depends on how safe the water is. Use our waterways directory to check.
Be sure to manage the group when near water, keeping everyone safe.
- If paddling do a risk assessment, make sure you have appropriate safety cover in place and that everyone is visible above water at all times.
- Swimming is defined in POR 9.13.9
- Manage your swimming activity in line with the swimming rules and guidance.
- Manage a Scout owned swimming pool in line with HSE 179 Managing Health and Safety in Swimming pools
Climbing and abseiling:
- Everyone must wear a helmet whilst climbing or abseiling on natural rock or if a novice, further exemptions apply.
- Make sure that all equipment is fit for purpose and in good condition.
- When walking directly to or from a mutli pitch climb the party size may be less than 4, otherwise follow 9.32 party sizes.
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)
- Mountain Training - Mountain Instructor Award (MIA)
The provider must have public liability insurance.
Gorge walking 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 gorge walking were totally new to people? Would people like to try other new adventures?
Gorge walking 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.
Gorge walking can often be adapted so more people can give it a go, for example, by following different routes or moving over different terrain. Many outdoor centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.