My first impression as we were kitting up for an afternoon’s canyoning in North Wales was that the protective pants that you are provided with are certainly not flattering. However, having to wear a garment that looked a lot like a pair of incontinence pants was certainly worthwhile to enjoy one of the growing adrenaline sports that has found a home in North Wales. Canyoning is an activity which involves swimming, scrambling and leaping your way down a river, which is generally shallower and has a slower flow than the larger rivers nearby that accommodate white water rafting.
Slipping And Sliding
Scrambling down the bed of a flowing river is a little more difficult than it appears, and the valley in which we were canyoning had a variety of terrain, with some parts quite shallow and others deep enough in which to swim. One of the first obstacles we came to was a part of the river flowing over a fairly steep and smooth rock face in between the river walls, and I was quickly making good use of the thick leather protective pants as I slid down. The challenge was to try and slide down the rock on my feet, but the wet surface and flowing water meant I slid into the pool at the bottom on my bottom.
As I was canyoning with a larger group the learning curve offered plenty of opportunity to get used to walking and wading down the river. One of the deeper pools also gave the opportunity to take a leap from the rock outcropping on the bank of the river, and fully submerge for the first time. It was a good hint of what was yet to come. For those people who have already tried coasteering and have enjoyed it will find that canyoning offers a similar experience, and a great combination of climbing and scrambling that is challenging and enjoyable.
The Zipwire And A Leap Of Faith
As with any good guided trip, the canyon down which we were scrambling had two great surprises in store for us. As we approached a particularly narrow and fast flowing part of the canyon, our group moved on to the narrow ledge on the bank, and as we clipped into the guide rope it was a scramble past bushes and small trees until the valley opened out again. Some fifty feet below was a large opening where the river pooled, and the best way down was a wonderful zipwire. Some of the more nervous of the group had a climb down to the valley floor below. A swift and speedy dash on the zipwire before the shock of a cold splash into the pool of water really got the adrenaline pumping.
My personal highlight was an optional leap of faith of around thirty feet into a deep pool at the bottom of a cliff a short walk further on, and was truly a great climax to a very exciting and exhausting afternoon.
Image by – ProAdventure