canyoning vs gorge walking

What is the difference between Gorge Walking and Canyoning?

As adventure sport is booming in the UK, we are constantly asked “what is the difference between Canyoning and Gorge Walking” (or ghill scrambling if you’re from the lake district).  The words Canyoning and Gorge walking are a collective term for combined rock and water adventures where you are journeying by foot along a river system, gorge, or canyon.

Gorge Walking

Gorge walking, does what it says on the tin. In general terms Gorge walking is walking and climbing up a gorge (although you can go down the gorge, depending on how steep it is) This can involve some jumps, climbing and scrambling and on occasion some small slides, wading through the river and climbing behind waterfalls. The going up point is important, and is one of the crucial differences between canyoning and gorge walking. Gorge walking is more of a low level activity and a great introduction to combined rock and water experiences.  Gorge walking is a great activity for youth groups, families and cooperate groups. Gorge walking can be done in most areas of the UK as all you need is a river with some pools, rapids or small waterfalls. This is why when you were younger or went away on your school adventure week you might have done gorge walking as an activity.


Canyoning is a very new adventure sport to hit the UK. If you were from the USA or Utah especially you would call it canyoneering. Canyoning is more of an exploration sport originally pioneered when mountaineers and cavers wanted to investigate and explore these deep canyons or gorges that cover most mountainous areas. Over the last decade the sport grew and very specific skills were developed for safely getting down these canyons. So canyoning is going down, this throws a lot more into the mix, on a canyoning trip you will always encounter waterfalls where you will need to abseil yourself down, there will often be jumps, big slides or rock flumes, zip lines might be created to safely pass powerful waterfalls. Canyoning is a lot more adventurous and dare I say it… full on than gorge walking, but with the right instructors with good experience, it is a very safe and extremely fun experience that will blow your mind!

The Difference?

So what is the difference between gorge walking and canyoning? Well in short gorge walking is generally going up, and canyoning is going down. I suppose you could look at is as Gorge walking is more horizontal, whereas canyoning is more vertical.  On a canyoning trip you will defiantly wear a harness, use ropes and see many waterfalls throughout the whole of your trip, groups will be smaller and with a good reportable company, instruction and training is given before undertaking your adventure.

If you want to experience Canyoning or Gorge walking check out our website. We offer fully Instructed trips and experiences, UKCG and ICOpro training courses and the ultimate international canyoning experiences abroad.  Come and be part of this awesome adventure!! Canyoning is what we do!!