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Rock Climbing, Abseiling & Canyoning

Canyoning in the UK | 6 Of The Best Spots to Go Gorge Walking

Where to get your canyoning fix in Britain

Canyoning in the UK might seem like a strange idea – after all, how many canyons have we actually got in the British Isles? Compared to the likes of European or world canyoning hot spots like Utah or Arizona in the USA, the UK countryside might seem a bit small. But what we might lack in size we more than make up for in quality – at least when it comes to canyoning.

What is Canyoning? | A Beginners Guide to Gorge Walking

Canyoning, or gorge walking as it’s often called in the UK, actually has a thriving scene in Britain. From the tumbling waters of Scotland’s mountain rivers to the scenic beauty of Welsh National Parks there are plenty of great canyoning spots to check out in the UK.

The Best Canyoning Spots in the UK: How Stean Gorge, Yorkshire

How Stean Gorge, Yorkshire – Photo: Geograph.org

If you’re planning to go canyoning in the UK then Yorkshire deserves a place on your list. With all that gorgeous rolling countryside it’s no surprise that Yorkshire is also home to some great canyons too.

How Stean Gorge in North Yorkshire is an outdoor activities centre built around a cracking gorge walking spot. The How Stean Gorge has been popular with adventurers and wannabe mountaineers since Victorian times when it was nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’ because of its mini alpine ravine.

A trip to How Stean starts by abseiling off the centre’s purpose built bridge, 45ft into the canyon below. Soon you’ll be jumping into plunge pools, sliding down waterspouts, exploring caves and sitting under waterfalls for a solid couple of hours of gorge walking fun.

How Stean Gorge, Yorkshire – Photo: Geograph. org.jpg

The How Stean crew will provide all the gorge walking gear you need. They also offer ‘proper’ canyoning trips to Cumbria, where you can polish your canyoning skills with 100 ft abseils down Britain’s highest cascade waterfall, Cautley Spout.

Go With: How Stean Gorge

The Best Canyoning Spots in the UK: Brecon Beacons, Wales

Canyoning in waterfall country, Brecon Beacons National Park – Photo: wikipedia.org

The Brecon Beacons National Park is probably the most popular spot to go canyoning in Wales. Packed with tall peaks this area sees plenty of action with the likes of the SAS coming here to train, so you know you’re in for a treat.

The park’s southern edge, around the head of the Vale of Neath, is nicknamed waterfall country. Here several tributaries of the river Neath converge, forming an epic series of waterfalls that are a magnet for gorge walkers.

The Beacon’s steep slopes channel water from the nearby peaks down towards the falls, slicing deep gorges through the area’s sandstone and mudstone. You’ll find plenty of accessible drops here ranging from 20ft jumps to 79ft abseils with some fun waterfall scrambles to be had too.

Go With: Adventures Wales

The Best Canyoning Spots in the UK: Everywhere, Scotland

As a country mostly comprised of mountains and breathtaking wilderness it’s no surprise that Scotland is home to many of the best places to go canyoning in the UK. Packed with interesting geology this northern nation is a Mecca for mountain bikers, climbers and (when the snow’s good) snowboarders and its wild mountain rivers make it a great location for canyoners too.

If you’re heading to Scotland for a spot of gorge walking you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s easily enough here to make up an entire guide just for Scotland. For starters, head to Dollar Canyon, Clackmannanshire. This accessible gorge is less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and is great for beginners featuring long slides, 5m high jumps and an thrilling two tier waterfall.

Once you’ve whet your appetite at Dollar, head to Bruar Canyon, Perthshire. This is one of the very first canyoning spots to ever open in Scotland and is more of a technical challenge. Think big, freefall abseiling, two tier slides and interesting rock features.

Finally, once you’ve got some canyoning experience under your belt it’s off to Grey Mare’s Canyon in Dumfries and Galloway for Scotland’s top canyoning challenge. This gorge is not for beginners, 90m multi-pitch abseils, big jumps and super fast slides will give you the ultimate UK canyoning rush.

Go With: The Canyoning Company or Vertical Descents

The Best Canyoning Spots in the UK: Esk Ghyll, Cumbria

Canyoning in the UK wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the stunning Cumbrian countryside. With its achingly beautiful landscape of hills, valleys and lakes, Cumbria could easily stand in for the prettier bits of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

While you’re unlikely to run into any dragons or hobbits here you can be sure of an epic adventure as you explore the waterways of this pristine county. There are plenty of spots to have some fun throughout Cumbria but if you want to jump straight in, Mpora’s recommendation is the Lake District’s Esk Ghyll.

Because of it’s remote location you’ll find there’s a bit of a slog to reach Esk Ghyll, but the hike in is through all that lovely rural landscape and it’ll all seem worth it when you’re up to your eyeballs in fresh Cumbrian white water.

The Esk is chock full of jumps ranging from 3m all the way up to knee knocking 10m leaps. There are tonnes of pools to explore and while many sections of the gorge are fairly wide and exposed you’ll also find some really interesting scrambles through the Esk’s plentiful rapids too. This is physical, fun canyoning that will leave you knackered, grinning from ear to ear and hungry to go again.

Go With: Adventure 21

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