Includes: River running, canyoneering, water, land, ghyll scrambling, waterfall jumping Outdoors, Adventurous activities, Water

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A really wet adventure

Climb, swim, abseil and scramble through caves and fast flowing water, and make a splash as you leap into the depths!


water theme icon.pngCanyoning usually takes place in a steep-sided river gorge and can involve sliding or swimming down rapids, jumping into river pools, floating down fast-flowing chutes and on waves, and walking behind waterfalls or jumping off them.

Contact Girlguiding via [email protected] for support to take girls canyoning as you will need to find a reputable local AALA registered provider with a qualified instructor.

Canyoning is an adventurous activity and should follow the adventurous activity policy and procedures.

Approved: 22 February 2022
Version: 2.1

Content owner: Adventure team

Planning checklist

If you're working with an external provider or external instructors to run this activity outside the unit meeting space, follow these extra steps. 

  • Arrange for a home contact. Leave any route or other relevant details with your home contact and complete a home contact agreement form. Let them know if you make any changes to your plans.
  • Tell your local commissioner.
  • Tell the activity provider about the ability and experience of the participants and any disabilities, access needs or health conditions that need to be considered when running the activity.
  • Choose a reputable and licensed activity provider (where applicable).
  • Check the qualified adults hold the correct qualification to be able to run the activity (see the information below).
  • Get copies of the instructor qualifications and public liability insurance of the activity provider before you book.
  • Ask for a copy of the providers' safety guidelines and risk assessment.
  • Make sure you have the correct ratio of participants (girls and volunteers) to qualified adults (those running the activity). This is different to the ratio of leaders to girls.
  • Check with the venue that they have the correct equipment and, if needed, specialist clothing that will meet the requirements for your group.
  • Source any specialist equipment or clothing needed to run the activity not provided by the venue, and make sure this is in good condition and fit for purpose.
  • Check that any equipment is suitably insured by the provider and agree what happens to the equipment if it gets damaged.

Some venues might ask for a disclaimer or waiver to be signed for each person taking part in the activity. This is something which parents/carers must sign on behalf of their child. You can do this along with the consent form. Parents and carers should be given sufficient information from the provider along with the waiver so they can make an informed decision to sign it or not. Leaders can only sign disclaimers and waivers for their own personal participation.

The provider you are using must be registered with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, which ensures that the instructor qualifications are appropriate for the area.

Please ensure you obtain a copy of these qualifications before booking.

We advise that the equipment is provided by the professional body running the activity.

If canyoning abroad, the above qualifications and regulations may not be applicable. The leader will need to make enquiries about the reputation and safety standards of the activity provider. Contact your international adviser or outdoor activities adviser, or email [email protected] for more guidance.

Waterfall jumping is an activity offered at the World Centre, Our Cabana, Mexico. If you want to do this activity with your girls you should ensure a thorough risk assessment and speak to leaders that have done this activity before so you are aware of all the risks. Please speak to your international adviser for more guidance.

The provider must be licensed by the Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority. To confirm the provider’s listing and what activities they are covered for, see AALA.                                                                                                                                                                                  You can verify the quality of a provider by checking it has one of the following endorsements: : AALA, Adventuremark or LotC Quality Badge for Adventure. AALA and LotC are not applicable in Northern Ireland, but Sport Northern Ireland confirm the implementation of Adventuremark as a suitable adventure activity accreditation scheme for activity providers in Northern Ireland.

Monitor current and predicted weather conditions as water levels in rivers and streams can rise rapidly following rainfall on hills and fells. As this activity is dependent on weather conditions, providers may need to cancel at short notice. Check your chosen provider's cancellation policy.

Participants must:

  • Be able to swim 50m – girls may fulfil this rule while wearing a buoyancy aid
  • Have good water confidence
  • Be paired up, stay in these pairs and be responsible for watching each other (the 'buddy' system)

Buoyancy aids should be worn for this activity, unless a life jacket is recognised as best practice by the qualified instructor. Helmets must also be worn.

We advise that the equipment is provided by the professional body running the activity.

If a girl has a medical condition that will affect her ability to swim, tell the instructor and take steps so she can take part safely.

The leader must:

  • Make sure that safety rules and alarm signals have been explained to the girls, as well as the need to obey instructions  immediately.
  • Make sure the required buoyancy aids/life jackets are used and correctly fitted.
  • Follow water safety guidelines and ensure that the responsible adult helpers are familiar with them.

Inspect water for signs of visible pollution, for example rubbish, blue green algae or chemicals.

Make sure girls and parents are aware of the dangers and symptoms of Weil's disease and what action to take if they suspect infection. On the day of the activity, advise participants to cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters to help prevent infection.

See our guidance on water activities.

The ratios below are given as a maximum and ratios must be considered as part of the risk assessment, this may lessen due to any medical conditions, physical ability or other factors.

Leadership team ratio

As this activity will take place outside of your usual meeting place the leadership team adult to child ratio is mandatory.

  • Rainbows: not a Rainbow activity
  • Brownies: not a Brownie activity
  • Guides: 1:12
  • Rangers: 1 Girlguiding leader

Qualified adult/participant ratio

The activity leader (qualified adult) should determine what size of group is safe. There must be enough qualified adults to ensure the safety of all participants.

The number will be determined by any limitations placed on their qualification, permit or the rules of their operating organisation as well as the risk assessment. This should take into consideration the location, weather and experience of both the qualified adult and other participants. The leader should assess the risk and any concerns must be raised to them.

Girlguiding expects a ratio of 1 instructor to 8 girls/participants for this activity (this ratio applies to adults taking part as well as younger members), plus a minimum of 2 qualified adults.