August 30th, 2018
If you’re ready to put your walking skills to the test and push your comfort zones to the next level, then a day out gorge walking in Snowdonia could be just the thing to get your adrenalin flowing.
I looked up to see a wall of white, churning water cascading down a vertical drop peppered with slippery boulders, and if I dared to look downwards it was to see the river plummeting over the edge of wet and rocky precipice.
“Right” boomed a voice behind me. “Just hook your foot into the nook, grab hold of the rock and pull yourself to the top. We’re going up.”
“We’re what?” I replied incredulously. “I can’t do that, there’s no way I can get up there.”
“Yes you can, come on. I’ve got your hand,” came the cheery reply from one of the outdoor instructors. And after a few slippery false starts, I wedged my foot firmly into the groove, reached my arm to the top and heaved myself up. And wow, what a feeling. My heart thumped as I perched at the top of the waterfall, peering down into the seemingly impossible abyss I had just climbed up. I’d done it after all.
When I thought about Gorge Walking, I had in mind a gentle amble along a stream with perhaps the odd boulder to negotiate and a little waterfall to walk behind. What I got was an unforgettable adventure!
Gorge walking literally involves climbing up the steep, watery incline of a river gorge, tackling challenges along the way. It can encompass walking, jumping, scrambling, swimming, paddling and climbing so it really is a great test for the whole body, but it’s certainly not only for seasoned outdoor adventurers either. It’s an ideal activity if you want to add an extra dimension to your walks and put your skills to the test.
While gorge walking isn’t for the faint hearted, it is an activity that everyone with a basic level of fitness can undertake. And along with the physical challenge, you may just find that your mind is tested too. With a bit of positive thinking, patience and plenty of encouragement, impossible leaps become small steps and impassable rocks become easy boulders. During my gorge walking day, my attitude changed from “can’t possibly” to “I can do this, with a leap of faith!”
Another fantastic thing about gorge walking is that it allows you to experience the landscape from a different perspective. It isn’t every day that you can walk up a gorge as the sounds, sights and smells of the river fill all your senses.
While gorge walking is not a dangerous activity, there can be perils to the inexperienced gorge walker. The rocks can be slippery and steep, and there are occasions when a safety rope is necessary. The conditions of the gorge can change with the weather and the flow of water, so it’s really best to go along with an experienced instructor who knows the gorge well.
To me, a gorge walk was a great way to use my walking skills in a new dimension and to rise to a few new challenges. To stand at the top and look down at the incredible gorge I’d just journeyed up was a fantastic feeling, and incredibly rewarding. And I also got to explore somewhere completely different, and a really beautiful area that I’d never usually get to see; what a special privilege.
If you fancy a challenge, and something a little different to your usual countryside hike, then a gorge walk is definitely for you. A walk will never be the same again!
**It is always recommended, and is safer, to go gorge walking with a trusted and legitimate outdoor instructor who knows the gorge well and runs sessions there regularly.
Try these Snowdonia based outdoor instructors for a gorge walking experience: