A beginner’s guide to Canyoning

Canyoning also known as canyoneering is an adventure activity that combines rock and water activities into a sport full of adrenaline and natural beauty. When you go canyoning you will be trekking through river gorges, around rock pools and behind waterfalls. You will find yourself abseiling down waterfalls and tackling cliff jumps into stunning water rock pools. On any canyoning trip in the UK and Scotland you will certainly be wet, but come away buzzing.

Canyoning is a perfect mix of different outdoor activities. But although canyoning uses a mixture of skills it has its own specific way to do things.  It involves rock climbing skills, as there is often abseiling and rappelling. Swimming is 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. Often you can slide down natural water chutes, jump into deep pools and swim your way through beautiful sheer sided gorges. Canyoning has developed as an exploration sport with similar techniques to caving and climbing. This is the beauty of canyoning, a means to explore stunning hidden canyons using precise skills and techniques.

Where can I go canyoning?

Canyoning is often 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 sculptured rock features can be found, smooth waterfalls are formed to create almost a natural water park. Although some canyons can be technical (involving ropes and tricky moves), many canyons are accessible to all and can just involve jumping and walking. The best canyoning locations in the UK are found in Scotland, although there are some canyons in North Wales and the Lake District, but be careful not to confuse gorge walking with canyoning. Bruar, Dollar, Alva and the Grey Mares Tail are some of the best canyons in Scotland, offering the budding adventurer everything from big abseils, ziplines and jumps, plus stunning scenery. The Canyoning Company offers daily canyoning trips in these locations around Scotland with expert instructors.


If you are feeling even more adventurous, 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. To find out more about canyoning holidays here.

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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 and if you are not skilled or knowledgeable about your environment and the risks it can become higher. Just like many adventurous sports before you undertake the challenge you should make sure you have the correct equipment and skills, this can be sought after by going with an accredited canyoning provider. Here you will be accompanied by an experienced Instructor and given all the appropriate equipment to stay safe and comfortable on your trip. By using an ICOpro (International Canyoning Organisation for Professionals) accredited centre you can be assured your instructor, equipment and canyon is at the highest possible standard.

If you already have some experience or would like to expand your knowledge and canyoning skills. Courses are available to give you the knowledge and understanding of this adventure sport. By joining an ICOpro Canyoneer level 1-2-3 (CA123) course you will become autonomous in the canyon environment and be able to practice canyoning all around Scotland and the world with friends. You will also be able to hire equipment from canyoning centres and explore these beautiful places with your own group, have the confidence and skill to become an explorer and expand your world. To find out more about ICOpro training courses .

Water levels

The flow of water and water level in the canyon can be subject to change. Sometimes this can happen very quickly and can pose a risk to canyoning. It’s always important to check the weather at least 3 days prior to your canyoning trip and during your descent. By going with an 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 seek advice from local canyoning guides, instructors and companies before you go.

Team Activity

Canyoning is almost always a team or group activity. It relies on everyone taking a role in the trip and helping each other out. If it’s your first time canyoning you will still find yourself helping as a team member and enjoying the thrill of being part of a team. When you go canyoning its always best to keep your group size to a smaller number, generally a group les that 10 people is best.

What will I wear canyoning?

Canyoning in the UK is almost always in water, so an essential item is a wetsuit. Choosing the right wetsuit is important for you to stay warm and comfortable. You can get canyoning specific wetsuits which are usually two-piece wetsuits and are thicker than summer suits, usually around 5mm. You will wear a canyoning harness, so you can be secured to the ropes either to abseil or move across exposed areas on a handline. When you go canyoning you will always wear a helmet. Depending on the canyon you may get a white-water helmet or a mountaineering helmet. It is now seen a best practice to wear a mountaineering helmet because canyoning is classed as a mountaineering sport. Finally, but most importantly you will need some shoes. Canyoning can be very slippery and involves you walking, climbing and scrambling around. Have good shoes will make or break your canyoning experience. At every ICOpro centre you will be issued with canyoning specific shoes, offering good protection, grips and support on your canyoning experience.

Canyoning is a very new and exciting adventure sport and is developing here in the UK and around the world. To find out more about canyoning trips, courses, team building events, international trips and everything canyoning feel free to contact us at The Canyoning Company because #canyoningiswhatwedo