Scotland’s Highland region is one of the most multifaceted places in the world—a landscape full of contrasts. On the one hand, you can enjoy serenity and tranquility alongside a peaceful loch. On the other, you can find yourself braving the rugged mountains, gorges, and boggy moorland, exerting considerable effort to get from one place to another. Home to pastoral scenery with sheep and cattle grazing contentedly in fertile farmland, the Scottish Highlands also boast forbidding rock faces, steep gorges, and remote muirs. If you want to experience the rugged wilderness that many only see from the window of a car, bus, or train, consider heading out for a day of gorge walking and see the Highland landscape as you’ve never imagined. Gorge walking in the Scottish Highlands is becoming a very popular activity. It is hand-in-hand with gorge scrambling and canyoning. In some places, there is little difference. Generally, unlike canyoning, you will be heading up the gorge and climbing up through the waterfalls. However, like canyoning, you very well may be jumping back down again, plunging into deep pools and sliding down through waterfalls. It is a mix of white water sport and rock climbing. And unlike scrambling, you will need some equipment to help you through the adventure. Gorge walking is usually also considered less extreme than canyoning, and it an appropriate outing for families. Rivers are less rapid and both descents and ascents are slightly milder than with canyoning. Gorge walking can also be done year round, weather permitting. You can expect to be out in the wilds for 3 to 4 hours on average, again depending upon the weather, the size of the group, and the experience and skill levels of the participants. Most activity centres will tailor the gorge walking experience to the needs of the group. Gorge walking generally follows the course of a river through a gorge, and you will definitely get wet! Think of it as a mix of activities including sliding down rapids, swimming, floating, jumping, and climbing. G2 in Aviemore offers gorge walking outings, touting them as great activities for adventurous families, stag and hen groups, or teambuilding groups. They will provide the gear you need for a day of adventure, challenge, and fun. Like when canyoning, wet suits, helmets, and buoyancy aids are a must for gorge walking. Boots-n-Paddles are another outdoor adventure centre that offers gorge walking. They are based in both Inverness and Aviemore, but they consider themselves a mobile activity centre and take to the wilderness all throughout the Highlands of Scotland. As well, Boots-n-Paddles will help organize fundraising and charity events in coordination with their outdoor activities. Their gorge walking activities are well suited for even younger children, boasting that all will get “laughing and wet without too much technical difficulty.” The minimum age for Boots-n-Paddles gorge walking is six years old, and there will never be more than 10 people per instructor in a group. They offer the more typical style of gorge walking, as well, which they refer to as gorge swimming. This is the gorge activity requiring wet suits, buoyancy aids, and helmets. The minimum age for this sport is 14 and there will only be 8 people per instructor in a group. You must be able to swim for this activity. Craggan Outdoors offers a spectacular gorge walking adventure for a morning or afternoon. After you have been kitted out, you will head to the bottom of a nearby gorge where you will immerse yourself in icy Highland water (in a wetsuit, of course), and acclimate yourself to the environment. From there, you will climb up small waterfalls, chutes, and gullies, and then plunge into a plunge pool at the top of the gorge. After that, you will head back down those same gullies, chutes, and waterfalls, having experienced the gorge completely. Outdoor and adventure centres all over the Scottish Highlands will give you the opportunity to go gorge walking, and at many different levels. When making your choice, consider your skill level and those of your family or group, then check around to see what type of adventure the centres are offering. From children to adults, and virtually all skill levels, most people should be able to find an enjoyable gorge walking experience here in the Scottish Highlands. Don’t let the name fool you, however—you will be doing more splashing, climbing, floating, and jumping than actual walking. Try gorge walking in the fabulous Scottish Highlands on your next visit here!
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