Everything You Need To Know About Ghyll Scrambling

gill or ghyll



  1. a deep ravine, especially a wooded one.
  2. a narrow mountain stream

from Old Norse meaning gil steep-sided valley

What is ghyll scrambling? Ghyll scrambling is similar to canyoning or gorge walking. It involves descending a ghyll through a series of slides and jumps into pools of water.

This is a guided activity as the ghylls used have been carefully selected and every section has been recced. Your guide will show you the best way to descend to ensure maximum fun along with maximum safety. Further down the page we have some recommendations for guides.

(c) Newlands Adventure Centre
(c) Mountain Memories

What you need?

The company you book with will provide your wetsuit and helmet. All you need to bring is

  • Swimming kit to wear under the wetsuit and a non-cotton tshirt.
  • Towel and change of clothes for after. Most ghylls don't have changing facilities nearby so if you have a changing towel or simlar, bring that.
  • Sturdy, grippy shoes you don't mind getting wet. See our comments from instructors below.
  • Means of attaching your glasses to your head or just don't take your glasses.
  • A hot drink and snacks for afterwards.
keswick adventures for blog.jpg
(c) Keswick Adventures

What is involved?

The most popular ghyll near Keswick is Stoneycroft Ghyll. This is an excellent mixed ability ghyll suitable for all ages from approximately 8 upwards (check with your provider). It involves a short walk up to the start of the ghyll where you will have a safety briefing. You will then get into the ghyll and get used to the feeling of the water in your wetsuit (don't worry, it will soon warm up, keeping you toasty warm). Your instructor will then guide you through a series of slides and jumps. The best approach is to throw yourself in (literally) and enjoy it. But if you don't like the look of any section then don't worry - everything is avoidable so just speak to your instructor. In between the slides there are some sections where you walk through the water - the rocks can be slippery so just take your time. 

If you keep your eye out you might see evidence of some of the Lake District's mining history. Stoneycroft used to be mined for lead between 1540 and 1900 and there are a couple of tunnels visible near the ghyll and other mining evidence.

(c) Rocqua Adventures

We have asked our providers for their Top Tips whilst ghyll scrambling and this is what they said:

"Make sure you have good footwear. Well fitted with a good grip and closed toes. So definitely no flip flops, sandals, cheap water shoes or stilettos."

Justin from Mountain Memories 

"As part of our safety brief we tell our clients 'Green is mean, brown will take you down and grey is okay'. This is the description of the different types of slippery rocks in the ghyll."

Lee from Keswick Adventures

Which ghyll is for you?

Stoneycroft is a popular ghyll for the whole family, but its not the only one. Other family friendly venues include Honister and other locations. Stoneycroft also has a canyon section for the more adventurous of you with abseils and zip lines. Or you can head further afield to places such as Church Beck in Coniston or Esk Gorge. 

Why not choose your guide then speak to them about your requirements and they will reccomend the best option for you and your family or friends. Or if you've been before there are plenty of options to keep you entertained. 

Ghyll Scrambling Guides


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