Combined Rock and Water Activities


A number of different activities that use the interface between rock and water provide scope for adventure, challenge and play have emerged into common use and can be described under the above generic heading.  They are:

  • Gorge Walking - Moving up or down a stream or river course by scrambling, wading, swimming, jumping and sliding. Some gorges lend themselves to a ‘dry’ approach where the objective is to stay out of the water with a greater emphasis on mountaineering techniques. Other gorges favour a wet approach and require more white water skills and competencies to lead the journey safely. In either case, to remain within a working definition of ‘gorge walking’, progress up and down must be essentially non-technical. That is, it must be possible without the use of ropes and technical climbing techniques, other than the use of simple hand lines as confidence ropes in order to safeguard progress.
  • Canyoning - Movement, usually descent, of a steep technical watercourse. Canyoning will involve the use of specialist technical equipment and techniques including abseiling as well as jumps, slides and swimming.  
  • Coasteering - Adventurous activity in the tidal impact zone. In its simplest form it may comprise simple beach combing but is more likely to involve a journey along sections of rocky shoreline. The activity will encompass adventure swimming, jumping and scrambling (non-technical). The skills and competences required to lead this form of activity are best derived from white water sports and surfing.
  • Sea - Level Traversing - The equivalent ‘dry approach’ to Coasteering involving the use of technical ropework to traverse sections of rocky shoreline. This may involve traversing on fixed lines, scrambling and tyrolean traverses. The skills and competences required to lead this form of activity are best derived from rock climbing and mountaineering.

Working at Water Margins and Swimming in Natural Waters

Outdoor learning activities often take place at water margins where the potential for accidental immersion exists. These might include coastal walks, riverside walks and field studies including water sampling. 

It is recognised that on occasions, groups taking part in an adventurous activity or visiting the seashore or countryside may wish to go for a swim.  Swimming in natural waters is fun but it is important for leaders to understand the potentially serious nature of this activity.

Natural waters can broadly be categorised as:

  • Still water lochs/lochans
  • Rivers
  • Sea