Scary Sports Special

"It's okay mate...It's only ghyll scrambling. Don't lose your hair over it..."

Halloween is all about scaring yourself. Or if you’re under 12, getting sweets aka ‘candy’ from unsuspecting neighbours normally ignored or avoided.

But as an adult, why not take the opportunity of Halloween bravado to do a new, scary, outdoor activity.

Here are the top scary activities that get a ‘I couldn’t’ or an ‘I daren’t’ reaction- with reasons why you should do them!

Pot holing

'The Cheese Grater' hole turns legs to mozzarella...

Pot holing is simply the method of getting into the cave, but when you’re there, a beautiful world of tunnels, caverns, ancient stalagmites, rocks and fossils await you.

The nature and definition of potholing is the method of entering caves via ropes and ladders with full climbing equipment in order to explore the cavern.

Why it’s scary:

  • You may need to lie down and wriggle between walls of the cavern.
  • Falling rocks and rising water as well as incoming water from above can all create a trap in the cavern
  • You can be underground for hours at a time

Why it’s worth it

  • Beautiful peaceful serenity with fossils, stalactites and stalagmites and clear water
  • With a guide you can build into those big caves and you can go down and resurface depending on how confident you are
  • ‘ Surprise claustrophobia’ down in the caves is rare. “In 18 years? I’ve seen it once.” Says Ian Rennie of Go Caving.  “It really is very rare. And the idea is that we are getting people not to be scared, but to enjoy caving. Cavers themselves don’t spend a whole day on their bellies crawling through caves generally, and these sorts of routes again can be avoided. It’s the same with weight. Caving is fine whether you’re 6 foot 8, 16 stone, a rugby player or as slim as a model! We can get you in the appropriate cave as long as you’re relatively fit and healthy and above 8 years old.”

Bungee Jumping

Red bull- an ad slogan with a lot to answer for.

Why it’s scary:

  • You have to face to height of the bungee jump (Around 160-400ft in the UK) and get up there- via a cage.
  • You have to jump- will the cord hold your weight? Will your lunch leap out? What if you chicken out?
  • You’ve heard stories that your eyes can pop out- will yours?

Why it’s worth it:

  • “A bungee jump is just one of those ‘do before you die things.’ Says James Field of UK Bungee. You will be checked over and over and your ropes are one set length. We weigh you before, and fit you with a specifically measured thickness of the rope, so there’s no risk of you falling too far. All our instructors have practical exams and are trained to fully check you, so one will check the ankles, another the harness and the ankles, the next the waist, ankles and harness, and so on, so you are 100% checked.”
  • What about the popping eyes and ejecting lunch? “It’s not a complete myth. I’ve seen in 12 years about 2 people’s eyes bulge out in his manner, and that’s people with weak retinas. As for lunch, just east as you would for any other activity, like running.”
  • And chickening out? “You sadly won’t get your money back…But by that point hopefully you will be ready to jump!”
  • And what about the actual jump? “We take you up in a cage. Your instructor will be with you. Then they will open the gate, stand you on the ledge and count you down, 3, 2, 1 – Bungee. And then you jump. You just need to look at the scenery and then trust the instructor. After that we catch you, unclip you and it’s all over!” Catch our jump here

White Water Rafting

It's amazing what some comedy shark fins can do for a team's speed...

Why it’s scary:

  • The boat could capsize at any time!
  • Getting into a rapid on an inflatable? Are you mad?
  • What if I drift off into the rapids, never to be seen again?

Why it’s worth it:

  • Capsizing in the river on the rapids and rough waters of the UK is inevitable, which in some ways is less scary. A guide will be on hand to tell you how to get back into the boat, and fully trained, they can rescue you in a jiffy.
  • Because the rafts are so big, you can sit with 5 close friends on the raft, so you needn’t be too scared. (At least visibly…)
  • Each person is given a paddle to propel the raft over the water and you also get all the floatation gear you need to stay above the water, so you shouldn’t be in a shallow grave before the day is out so long as you can swim.
  • The UK locations will be fast and furious, but depending on your level of skills, interest and fear, you won’t be taken on the equivalent of Niagra falls for the first time and you are more likely to be on areas of the River Tay, Scotland’s largest river, or The Tryweryn Dam released River in North Wales.

Ghyll Scrambling

Dave's sneezes were always causing havoc near unsteady rocks..

Why it’s scary

  • Gorge scrambling, ghyll scrambling and canyoning e.g. jumping into rivers and becks at a high-adrenaline pace, traversing a river upstream, scrambling over waterfalls or jumping into pools of water as well as a bit of climbing and abseiling too. Doesn’t sound like something for a newbie!
  • Getting wet and grubby. Ghyll scrambling means that you are hitting the river uphill and going to stay relatively dry. It usually involves a steep incline and you will be doing a lot of climbing. Gorge scrambling means that you will be going uphill and you are going to get wet. Canyoning you will be going at a downhill angle and you are going to get wet.
  • Sometimes there are private hydro-flow systems that you could run the risk of interfering with – is it safe?


Why it’s worth it:

  • “When guided it’s not unsafe “says Dan Robinson, head of Real-Adventure in Cumbria “Go with somebody who knows what they are doing. If you go off jumping into pools on your own you will probably need rescuing.” Somebody who is aware of access points. Can avoid those private hydro-flow systems.
  • “Getting wet, the climbing and the scrambling and the jumps into pools is great fun.  Everybody is doing something all in there together. Going up or down – it is a lot of fun.”
  • This is a unique sport that integrates both rock and water in a variety of locations across the UK, including the Lake District, Wales, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Devon. The biggest gorge is the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, for those seeking a real challenge.

So there you go. Some of the real nail biters debunked. Laugh in the face of that Ghyll. Stare down that pothole and master the bungee.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

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What Is….Potholing?

Potholing and spelunking. Depending on your frame of mind either sounds rude, or totally baffling. Not the sort of thing beginners could do, you might think. But actually, potholing, also known as spelunking, is the method of caving, which means simply, exploring caves with the right equipment.

Pot holing is simply the method of getting into the cave, but when you’re there, a beautiful world of tunnels, caverns, anciet stalagmites, rocks and fossils await you. With caves in Yorkshire, Wales, Derbyshire and beyond, caving is very accessible if you live in the UK, and you can give it a go, even if you’ve never been lower than the London Underground.

Popular in America under the name spelunking, and here in the UK as potholing, generally the nature and definition of potholing is the method of entering caves via ropes and ladders with full climbing equipment in order to explore the cavern.

Ropes are knotted and rigged and used to delve into the cave, and often, you may need to lie down and wriggle between walls of the cavern. Falling rocks and rising water as well as incoming water from above can all create a trap in the cavern, so safety is essential for potholing, it needs to be your number one priority.

“The thing is, caving is the general term for what we offer- and although that includes potholing we do say as a beginner, to come along first and get exploring and get some training. We offer half and full days and we always say get a half day because there is so much to see. Potholing is something that is usually undertaken by people with some experience” explains Ian Rennie from Go Cave.

“Some of these caves will be 120m deep and we use SRT methods, abseiling and using climbing ropes to get down. The key is – with training, anyone can go potholing. We can go for 3-4 hours, half a day, a whole day, or if you’re experienced we can even get you doing your leader awards as well. ”

Often, the heart of the pothole isn’t accessible on your first descent into a cavern or a mine, so you need to travel deeper into the cave. In these circumstances, squeezing through the tiniest tunnels, you do need to have good upper and lower strength to drag both yourself along. It is also key to relax your breathing through the tighter spots so you don’t push out your ribcage and extend your girth unintentionally! It is these tight spots that people often panic about or worry over when they think of caving.

I asked Ian how often he sees ‘surprise claustrophobia’ down in the caves.

“In 18 years? Once. It really is very rare. And the idea is that we are getting people to enjoy themselves down there, not to be scared, so they enjoy caving. Cavers themselves don’t spend a whole day on their bellies crawling through caves generally, and these sorts of routes again can be avoided. It’s the same with weight. Caving is fine whether you’re 6 foot 8, 16 stone, a rugby player or as slim as a model! We can get you in the appropriate cave as long as you’re relatively fit and healthy and above 8 years old- before that the suits don’t tend to fit!”

Once you have navigated the pitches and drops there are beautiful internal caverns to sit in, hung with stalactites and stalagmites, prehistoric untouched fossils, mud, and clear water to observe.

“Because you’re being guided with us you can hear about geology of the area, local knowledge and you will get the best route. The thing I love is every single day is different with caving. The caves are graded but the water level could make a grade 1 cave a 3 overnight. Caves are really wonderful.

I asked Ian why caving in the UK is unique.

“Whereas abroad you might have these massive vertical pitches whether you spend days underneath, in The UK we can do a lot of different routes in a smaller area and smaller time frame, so you can come for days at a time and keep taking in new pitches, new routes. The UK routes are really quite intense.”

And what about being kitted out? Do people need to buy climbing shoes?

“We get people all kitted out in the whole gear- wellies, fleece underlayers, jackets, trousers- the lot! We don’t want you to have to buy anything or have lesser gear than anyone else, never mind the instructor- so we supply the lot. All we would say is grab yourselves some thermals, it can be cold in the caves, and then you can put our layers on top. ”

Have you discovered caving? Tell us your stories!