Border Life: The extreme sport of canyoning makes a splash in Dumfries and Galloway

  • Lori Carnochan meets the man behind new extreme sport canyoning in Dumfries and Galloway

Extreme sports enthusiasts can now experience the exhilarating outdoor activity of canyoning, thanks to a new business venture set-up by Castle Douglas man Mike Clarke. 

Canyoning involves climbing, abseiling, jumping and swimming, whilst traversing canyons.

Mike has opened access to five canyons across Dumfries and Galloway - from Loch Trool to Grey Mare's Tail.

He's spent the last eight years working in canyons and launched his business in 2020, just before the pandemic began. He then spent 18 months preparing the canyons for commercial use, which involved installing safety bolts and the necessary safety equipment required.

Mike said he spotted a gap in the market for the extreme sport to be introduced in the south of Scotland.

"Up in Perthshire and Aberfeldy there's a lot of activities like canyoning, and the same can be said down in the Lake District," he explained.

"But there isn't really much on offer here in Dumfries and Galloway, so I thought well why not?"

Canyoning involves climbing, abseiling, jumping and swimming, whilst traversing canyons. Credit: Border Life

Recent data from Visit Scotland showed that a high percentage of holiday makers in Dumfries and Galloway are specifically looking for outdoor activities.

Mike says he wants to provide something a little different, and capitalise on the tourism trade.

"We have so many natural resources right here on the doorstep, and we're just not making the most of them.

"It would be great for tourists and locals alike to be offered more chances to enjoy our outdoor spaces, and that's what i'm hoping to bring to the table with the business."

But he wants people to remember that it's a sport that should only be done under the supervision of an experienced guide or instructor, as it can be dangerous.

"Hypothermia and hypoglycemia can be a real problem if they set in, so we're always checking the customers to ensure they keep warm and keep their energy levels up in between time spent in the water."

The canyoning season runs from April until October.  

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