Mar 13 16
Gorge Walking is one of the best ways to see some of the most beautiful pools, rivers and waterfalls that Britain has to offer, as you will have the opportunity to literally immerse yourself into the stunning scenery and gaze out over a stunning variety of water features.
Instead of observing the views from a safe vantage point, you must scramble over rocks, walk along the path of the water, traverse above pools and climb up waterfalls, which makes for an adrenaline fuelled journey.
Gorge Walking is also referred to as ‘Ghyll Scrambling’, which is derived from the northern word for a narrow mountain stream; this word itself originates from the Old Norse word ‘Gil’.
But I’m sure you’re glad to hear that this isn’t a post about the etymology of outdoor activities, this is an account of my own Gorge Walking adventure, which took place in the icy cold waters of Stickle Gill, located on the slopes of the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District. Thanks to the recent cold snap, my gorge walking exploits were much colder than anticipated, which in all honesty ramped up the adrenaline a few more notches.
Our day began when we met our instructor outside the Stickle Barn Tavern, which is located in and amongst the Langdale Pikes; once we were kitted out with the requisite equipment, such as Helmet, Wetsuit, Buoyancy Vest and Karabiners, we were on our way.
This was also the first time that I’d had the opportunity to try out my new Brasher Boots that I’d picked up from Millet Sports; if I hadn’t bought them, I would have had to tackle Stickle Ghyll in my running trainers, which were ‘flimsy’ to say the least.
No sooner had we got out of the car park than we were plunging into the icy water feet first, to say this was a shock to the system was an understatement; as the famous slogan for the well-known sports brand goes, “Just Do It”!
Once we were in the water, you immediately felt the full force of Mother Nature, as you were surrounded by the angry energy and low roar of fast-flowing water, which again helped to heighten your senses and adrenaline levels.
As we made our way up Stickle Ghyll, you were faced with a steady onslaught of near-freezing water splashing around your feet and in your face, which is a much more effective pick-me-up than any shot of espresso!
On top of this, we were provided with a journey that took in a fabulous playground of pools, waterfalls, fallen trees, rocks and huge boulders; each one providing a reward in itself, but the main event was undoubtedly the 15 metre scramble up a spectacular waterfall set in a deep gorge.
This was without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating experiences that I have ever had; feeling the pure force of the water pounding on top of your helmet like a drunken woodpecker on steroids, as you slowly climbed up the waterfall inch by inch, barely able to feel your hands and feet from the cold. This feeling of exhilaration was quickly trumped by the feeling of pure euphoria as you reached the summit unscathed, and felt dry land once again.
Once the rest of the group had reached the top of the waterfall, we were greeted with the now obligatory Hot Chocolate before we made our way back down the Gorge (thankfully on land this time), and back to the Car Park.
On the descent down the gorge I was amazed at how quickly my feet dried, which I put down to my new Brasher Boots; as an added bonus, the crystal-clear waters did an excellent job of keeping them looking almost as pristine as they do here.
On the way home, me and my girlfriend decided that we would definitely go Gorge Walking again; we have decided to tackle the Esk Valley Gorge Walk next time; Esk Valley offers a full day of Gorge Walking goodness, as well as some fantastic 8 metre high jumps and a stunning remote location, I for one cannot wait!
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