It’s the extreme sport of plunging off a rocky ledge into a thundering waterfall, hurtling through the void into the racing waters below.
Adrenaline junkies have turned this ‘leap of faith’ into one of the fastest-growing outdoor sporting activities in Britain, not to mention one of the most dangerous.
Ghyll scrambling, aptly named after the Lakeland word – of Viking origin – for a steep ravine or narrow mountain torrent, is popular in many parts of the country, and especially in the Lake District, where these water-filled gorges run with rainwater from the fells which cascade down the sides of the mountains on their way into the lakes of Cumbria.
It’s terrific fun, and can be enjoyed under supervision by anyone with a love of adventure – family-friendly groups are organised by many professional organisations who allow young beginners from the age of eight years.
But be warned – at its extreme, ghyll scrambling can be extremely hazardous, and is not recommended to be undertaken by anyone on their own.
Icy Waters Whipped by Howling Winds
During the summer, water temperatures can – to put it mildly – be bracing, and in winter, with icy waters often whipped up by howling winds, keeping warm in the raging torrents is a challenge in itself.
Wetsuits, waterproof salopettes and Wellington boots are pretty much a given at any time of year. The boots won’t do much to keep the water out of course, but will protect your feet, calves and ankles from the danger of serious injury on rocks and boulders on the way down.
Thermal baselayer T-shirts and leggings will go some way to keeping your body temperature under control, and waterproof socks and gloves will help direct heat to susceptible toes and fingers.
Sealskinz’ All Season Glove is a close-fitting, 100% waterproof leather glove ideal for this purpose, and their Midweight Mid Length Sock or Thick Mid Length Sock both feature waterproof membranes to keep out water.
Baselayer tops and bottoms by any of the leading brands like Smartwool, Icebreaker and Helly Hansen – especially their heavier-weight offerings – will all help to keep you warm in freezing conditions…and as an added bonus many are incredibly quick-drying if they do come in for a thorough soaking!
Safety helmets, like those designed by Petzl, Grivel and Wild Country for climbers, should always be worn as a safety precaution.
Nicki Williams is a copy writer for Gear-Zone, specialists in outdoor clothing and equipment from leading brands including Rab, The North Face, Berghaus, Petzl and Black Diamond
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