What is Gorge Walking?

What is Gorge Walking?

Gorge Walking. Ghyll Scrambling. Canyoning. What is the difference?
And crucially…what makes RDMH so good at it?

As well as answering these questions this blog will talk about what to consider in choosing a provider, and whether you can just go do it yourself.

What are they?

Gorge Walking in Coniston
All kitted up for Gorge Walking

The core idea in all Gorge Walking/Ghyll Scrambling/Canyoning activities is to explore the path of where a mountain stream has cut its way down the hill, and having fun on the features created by the combination of rock and water. It is fun, exhilarating, challenging, adventurous, and even beautiful!

For those who grew up going paddling and splashing about in streams on summer picnics, it is very much in the same vein but taken to a whole other level, a level where a sense of adventure, head for heights, and some decent technical kit can come in handy.

What is the difference? Why different names?

Gorge Walking and Ghyll Scrambling are essentially the same thing. Gorge Walking is the more nationally known name, whereas the word Ghyll is a mainly Cumbrian term. Scrambling, as opposed to walking, is perhaps a more descriptive portrayal of the way the participant gets to climb rocks as well as wade through the water, but they are both talking about going against the flow of the water on a journey up the beck (that’s yet another local term for a mountain stream, in case you were thinking you’d got your head round it), scrambling over rocks with the options of jumping into pools, and climbing up and swimming under waterfalls.

Canyoning was originally a French alpine activity that describes coming down with the flow of the water. Some people prefer the idea of following the flow of the water downstream, but we love the challenge of going against it. Plus, if you climb up a waterfall and then jump in, you get to climb back up again before moving on. Double the fun!

Whether you actually go up or down is generally dictated by the beck itself – some are best going up – e.g. Tilberthwaite, some down e.g. Stoneycroft, some can be done either way but have a different feel according to the way chosen.

Sounds cool, can’t I just go and do it myself?

Gorge Walking in the Lake DistrictGorge Walking in the Lake District
Gorge Walking in the Lake District

The rising popularity of wild swimming has brought this kind of activity to more people’s attention, and where taking a leisurely dip in a lake or slow moving stream on a summer’s afternoon is one thing, taking on the fast flowing power of a waterfall, or jumping into cold deep water without knowing exactly what’s beneath is quite another!

You know that saying, “The experts make it look easy”.  Well, it’s exactly that. We really wouldn’t recommend you going off to try this type of activity without someone who knows exactly what they are doing.

Our instructors do make it look easy, but that is down to years of experience that means they know where it’s safe to access, climb and jump, and they can make dynamic risk assessments based on the weather conditions of the day. They are also trained in swift water rescue, hold climbing qualifications and up to date outdoor first aid training. This is something they do for a living, so although a lot of instructors feel like they have the dream job because they get to ‘play’ in the water all day, they also take it extremely seriously.

So, what makes River Deep Mountain High the best provider?

Fair question. But just look at those smiles!

There are a lot of activity providers in the Lake District and we all want you to think we’re the best at what we do. The venues on offer are pretty much the same, so ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which provider you like the feel of best. So many choices!

Do you go for the one with the cheapest prices, the one with the snazzy website, or the one that your mates told you about?

Obviously, we can’t push you to choosing us, but the fact that you’re reading our article tells us you like something about our style. After all, we have been running outdoor activities in the Lake District since 2003, we include all the technical kit within our prices, and we’re in the Trip Advisor top 3 Outdoor Activity providers for Coniston, with a certificate of excellence. Plus, we do have a great looking website, with an easy online booking facility.

We also have a couple of ‘secret spots’ that not every provider knows about for Gorge Walking, but shhh…we don’t like to shout too loud about those ones.

Ok, we’re listening. But what else makes you so special?

Well our hot chocolate is said to be the best tasting in the world, but it’s also our team. We’re pretty darn good at what we do, and we love doing it!

With dynamic duo Johan and Tom’s friendly, encouraging and enthusiastic approach to instructing, and office wizzes Emma and Beth making sure you have all the information you need to get you where you’re going with what you need, our small but perfectly formed team make a great combination of people who want to make your experience memorable for all the right reasons from the moment you get in touch, to the moment you wave goodbye.

It sounds too simple, but our customers know that’s what sets us apart.

“The Last 5 years have been great fun with River Deep, really can’t praise them enough. Attention to detail, locations, safety, first class tuition from Johann, and Tom, and also many thanks to Emma for making the booking process so easy. Will certainly be back next year. Regards, Bill” 2019

“We had an excellent time. It was easy to book; we were told all the information we needed, and all the kit supplied was in excellent condition. Emma and Johan made all our experiences fun and our sons had a great time. We felt safe the whole time. We would definitely recommend them.” 2019

“I felt the cost of the activities was fair and combined with the service provided I didn’t mind paying at all. The ‘value for money’ was incredibly cheap. The value of the week for my children and me was huge.
I felt the week was wonderful for the children and me. The gorge walking was memory making for us all. I struggle to think how to offer constructive criticism for improvement. Johan’s style of development was inspiring and something I need to try a similar approach with them (it won’t work but….).” 2019

Amazing! When can I do this? How do I book?

Gorge Walking in the Lake District
Gorge Walking Generations
Winter Gorge Walking
Winter Gorge Walking


In terms of the time of year you can do this, we have ended up ice climbing the odd waterfall in the past because we operate year-round, though for the

most fun we would recommend the warmer months of the year. This is also the best time of year for the younger family members to have some fun, and we can provide sessions to suit any age and ability.

The minimum age for this activity is 6 years old, and we don’t have a maximum. We’ve had some amazingly adventurous grandparents proving that if you’re up for it, you can do anything!


We don’t run a set programme of activities each week, so the best option is to check our availability through our website where you can also
book and pay online, or if you prefer to chat with us, call us on 015395 28666, or just drop us an email enquiry. That goes for all of our activities, not just Gorge Walking.

We look forward to welcoming you soon!