Over the weekend we headed for some outdoor adventures in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, Wales. Lots of hiking, mountain climbing, and on Saturday we spent an incredible afternoon gorge walking with Blue Ocean Activities & Adventures .
Blue Ocean Activities and Adventures run a 3 hour session which leads you through beautiful scenery in the world famous Brecons waterfall country near Pontneddfechan. Your group leader takes you through a series of challenges, from jumping into the fast flowing river and shooting some rapids, to scrambling around boulders against white water, to climbing up gushing water falls. We explored silica mines with head torches and wriggled on our tummies through tight little tunnels and finished up with a big leap off a waterfall. It was absolutely brilliant!
What is Gorge Walking?
The company actually calls the activity gorge scrambling (AKA canyoning, or canyoneering as they call it in the States) which is a much better representation of what you'll get up to - it's an intrepid, challenging, adventurous day of swimming in white water, climbing, caving, scrambling, jumping off waterfalls and really pushing yourself. I've always thought that Gorge walking sounds more like a scenic ramble through a valley, like the Dovedale hike we did in the Peak District a couple of weeks ago, far more genteel!
Is it scary? How challenging is Gorge Walking?
We were both quite nervous before we started. We'd never done anything like gorge walking before, and I had visions of being the only girl in a group of big stag-do lads, but I couldn't have been more wrong. While Blue Ocean do offer special packages for stag/hen parties, they never mix them with their regular groups. Our team was a nice mix of couples, a family of 4 and a solo guy - he told us that Blue Ocean Activities was the only company that would take him as a single booking, something worth bearing in mind if you're travelling by yourself!
You do need a good level of fitness to do some of the challenges, such as traversing along a wall and climbing up boulders, but bear in mind that children aged 10 and up can take part, and all except one of the challenges are optional - if you have a fear of confined spaces or feel worried about any part of the day, then your guide will help you to sit it out and re join the group. However, we'd recommend that if you can, go for all of the challenges! You'll be so proud of yourself once you've faced your fears and triumphed!
What do I need to wear for Gorge Walking?
Blue Ocean Activities & Adventures provide all your kit for the day: a thick wetsuit (multiple sizes are available, you'll be asked when you book and there will also be spares on the day in case you need a different size), a buoyancy aid, helmet and in the coldest months, gloves. They are the only company to provide gloves, and they are SO useful for taking the edge off the cold water so your fingers can still grip, and for protecting you from scuffs and grazes as you scramble up rocks.
All you need is a pair of good grippy trainers or walking boots (they will get completely soaked as you swim and wade, so use an old pair that you don't mind getting mucky) and a polyester t shirt to wear under your wetsuit - we wore our rash vests that we use for body boarding.
If you have an inhaler bring that too, our group leader had a dry bag with a first aid kit that he put people's medical gear in.
What not to bring:
Your camera! You won't have a spare hand for it anyway, and if anything it will take away from the experience. The last thing you need to worry about is losing your kit in the fast flowing water or scraping it on rocks, so forget about getting that 'Gram and enjoy the day. Our guide had a little camera with him in a dry bag, and he took several group pics as we went around the route.
Blue Ocean Activities also recommends not wearing neoprene wetsuit boots as footwear as the soles aren't thick enough.
How was it?
We had an amazing time! Our guide, Neil, was great fun, a real cheerleader for all the group members, and very patient. He instantly put us all at ease and encouraged and guided everyone through the challenges - this meant that all of us completed every single one! David is not a fan of enclosed spaces at all, but he wriggled through some tight tunnels with everyone else and was so proud of himself. He also managed an extra challenge along with 2 others in the group of climbing up a very tough waterfall scramble!
The scenery that you spend the 3 hours in is absolutely stunning, with green mossy boulders and banks, and trees and bridges over head. What a wonderful part of the world to explore, and what a brilliant way to spend the day there!
We honestly couldn't recommend Blue Ocean Activities & Adventures more - we had such a fantastic time and were buzzing for the rest of the weekend. It was so exciting to really challenge ourselves to complete every activity, and we would do it again tomorrow if we lived in Wales!
If you'd like to read more about the gorge scrambling activity or make a booking, check out Blue Ocean Activities website , they also offer loads of other exciting days like caving, cycling, rock climbing and coasteering up in Pembrokeshire, which is like gorge scrambling but in the sea! Now THAT sounds awesome...
You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclosure: we were gifted 2 free spots on an afternoon's gorge walking in exchange for this blog, but as always, all opinions are our own and we were not paid to post.
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