Wales boasts some of the best gorge walking in the UK. the country's killer mix of beautiful scenery, rolling hills, epic mountains, deep valleys and wild rivers make canyoning in Wales an incredible experience.
Wales is blessed with a high number of accessible gorges, so it's an easy place to try canyoning for the first time. The other bonus to gorge walking in Wales is that it's a pretty wet pastime which can't be ruined by the infamous Welsh weather. With the right canyoning gear you can go canyoning in Wales all year round. Here are the best places to head for to get started.
Canyoning in Wales: The Best Gorge Walking Spots in South Wales
If you're looking for canyoning in the south of Wales there's a good chance you'll find yourself in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Home to several of the tallest Welsh mountains this area is often used as a training ground for the likes of the SAS, so you know you'll be in for a challenge.
The southern edge of the Beacons is home to an area nicknamed waterfall country which lies around the head of the Vale of Neath. Here several tributaries of the river Neath meet to form an epic series of waterfalls which are popular with canyoners.
The steep landscape funnels water from the higher parts of the park down towards the falls, carving deep channels through the sandstone and mudstone that make up the area, creating a watery playground full of big jumps and tight gorges.
There are plenty of accessible 20ft drops to play on here and even the 70ft Sgwd Einion Gam falls which are probably better to abseil down than jump. The Sgwd yr Eira falls are too shallow to jump but do feature a trail that lets you walk behind the waterfall and several of the other falls in the park can also be scrambled behind - or through - too.
If you're looking to go canyoning in Wales for the first time at the Brecon Beacons National Park it's easy to reach from Wales' major cities, clocking in at just over an hour's drive from Cardiff, Newport or Swansea. Popular river routes for canyoning include the Mellte and the Sychryd. You can visit both these spots with Blueoceanadventure (blueocean-adventure.co.uk), who offer a 3 hour tour starting at £34 pp.
Canyoning in Wales: The Best Gorge Walking Spots in North Wales
There are also some cracking gorge walking spots to go canyoning in the north of Wales too and it will come as no surprise that most of these are located in the picturesque Snowdonia National Park.
With Mount Snowdon as its centrepiece, Snowdonia's steep and mountainous terrain has already made it a hot spot for climbing and mountain biking. This elevated terrain was shaped by glaciers and is packed with deep u-shaped gorges and fast flowing rivers. It's perfect for adventure seekers basically.
Afon Ddu gorge is a great place to start and frequently hosts school parties and beginner groups. This waterway can be taken on as either a scramble heading up river or a regular descent. There are plenty of tight spots to slip through, an impressive waterfall and a good sized plunge pool at the top to give you the thrill of your first big jump.
In the north east of the park you'll find Dolgarrog Gorge. This is another canyoning spot that is often climbed up rather than slid down, but it still offers a range of drops and plunge pools to enjoy. You'll need a bit of scrambling experience to tackle this one and some rope work may well be needed for a couple of the steeper uphill sections but this is still one of the best canyoning spots in Wales.
Finally in the centre of the park, Maentwrog Gorge provides some of the most challenging gorge walking in Wales. It's part of the Snowdonia Centre of Excellence, a £4m project developing top outdoor activities in Snowdonia. The Afon Dwyryd river runs through the bottom of this gorge, following a line of larger drops and jumps with some fun abseiling thrown in to give you the complete experience.
There are plenty of other canyoning spots to explore throughout Snowdonia too. If you're keen to get stuck in up this end of the country give the crew at Snowdonia Adventures (snowdonia-adventures.co.uk) a call. These guys have been running outdoor adventure activities since way back in 2000 and will take you round some of the best Snowdonia canyoning for £60pp.