Beginners guide to canyoning
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Canyoning for Beginners

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You’ve probably seen photos or videos of people exploring canyons dressed in wetsuits and harnesses, abseiling behind waterfalls and leaping from great heights into rock pools. It looks terrifying and incredibly fun in equal measure. If like me, you’ve often fancied giving canyoning a go but have never been sure where to go or how to get started, then this guest post from John Stuart is for you. On behalf of The Canyoning Company, John gives us his best tips on how and where to have a canyoning adventure with this beginner’s guide to canyoning.

What is Canyoning?

Canyoning or ‘canyoneering’ is an outdoor adventure activity that combines rock and water activities. When canyoning, you can expect to be trekking through river gorges, abseiling behind waterfalls and jumping into incredible rock pools. If you’re on a canyoning trip here in the UK, you’re guaranteed to end the trip soaking wet and fueled up on adrenaline.

Canyoning is a great mixture of outdoor activities such as rock climbing and wild swimming. Canyoning almost always involves rock climbing and, in most canyons, you will do a lot of abseiling and rappelling. Swimming is also an important part of canyoning as most canyons have water in them. When there is water a lot of fun can be had, but some knowledge of water safety and the ability to swim is vital. The activity has developed as an exploration sport with similar techniques to caving and climbing.

Where Are the Best Canyoning Locations?

Canyoning spots are usually found in mountainous areas where rivers and steep mountains form deep river gorges or canyons. Due to the natural erosion of the water on the rock, beautiful rock features can be found. This natural erosion creates smooth waterfalls that are like natural water parks. You will find that some canyons can be quite technical (involving tricky moves and rope work). However, most canyons are accessible and only involve jumping or walking.

It’s widely considered that the best locations in the UK are based in Scotland, although there are some great canyons in North Wales and the Lake District too.

Bruar, Dollar, Alva and the Grey Mares Tail are some of the best canyons in Scotland. They offer the budding adventurer everything from big abseils to zip lines, jumps and stunning scenery. It’s all there to be experienced. The Canyoning Company offers daily trips to these locations around Scotland with expert instructors.

If you’re looking to go international with your adventures, why not try canyoning abroad in locations such as Madeira, the Pyrenees or the Alps. Some of the best canyons in the world can be found in Europe, offering a true adventure experience.

Is Canyoning Dangerous?

Canyoning is an adventure sport, and with any adventure sport, it can be taken into the realms of an extreme sport. Canyoning, like any adventure sport, has its risks. If you are not skilled or knowledgeable about your environment, the risks can become higher.

Just like any sport, before you undertake the challenge you should make sure you have the correct equipment and skills. This can be obtained by going with an accredited activity provider. Adventure providers like The Canyoning Company make sure you will be accompanied by an experienced instructor and given all the correct equipment to stay safe and comfortable on your trip.

We recommend using an ICOpro (International Canyoning Organisation for Professionals) accredited centre so you can be assured your instructor, equipment and canyon is at the highest possible standard.

The flow of water and water level in the canyon can fluctuate and is subject to change. Sometimes this can happen very quickly and become risky. It’s always important to check the weather at least 3 days prior to your canyoning trip and during your time canyoning.

By going with an ICOpro accredited provider this will be done for you. When the canyon has lots of water in it, it can become more fun and pose more challenges, but with too much water it can become dangerous. Always get advice from local canyoning guides, instructors and companies before you go.

Canyoning is a Great Group Activity

Canyoning is best enjoyed as a team or group activity. It’s important that everyone takes on a role in the trip and helps each other out. If it’s your first time canyoning you will still find yourself helping others as a team member while enjoying the thrill of being part of a team. When you go canyoning it’s always advised to keep your group size small, typically less than 10 people.
Due to it being a team activity, it is becoming increasingly popular as a hen and stag do activity. Some canyoning providers like The Canyoning Company offer adventure weekend packages that include canyoning, accommodation and even whiskey or gin tasting.

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