Canyon Ratings

UK Canyon Rating System  (Based on the ACA Rating system)

The core format of the UKCG Canyon Rating System includes two digits. The first digit is numeric and represents the values described below related to terrain and rope work. The second digit is an alpha character representing the values described below related to water volume and current. Additional values may be added to represent relative risk and time/commitment. Ratings are cumulative. For example: descending a Class 3 canyon will require the skills listed under Class 3, as well as those listed under Classes 1 and 2. 

NOTE: Ratings refer to descents in normal conditions, during what is considered the normal season for the canyon. Adverse conditions, such as higher than normal water volume or colder temperatures, will increase the difficulty of the descent.


1 Gorge Walking and Gill Scrambling
Non-technical; no rope required. May involve some easy scrambling requiring the occasional use of hands for balance and support. Travel is possible up or down canyon. See route description for more information.
2 Basic Canyoneering / Gorge Walking / Gill Scrambling
Scrambling, easy vertical or near vertical climbing and/or down-climbing requiring frequent use of hands. Rope recommended for hand lines, belays, lowering packs and possible emergency use. Travel is possible up or down canyon. See route description for more information.
3 Intermediate Canyoneering (Single Pitch Canyon)
Exposed technical climbing. Down-climbing could be difficult and dangerous; most people will rappel. Rope required for belays and single-pitch rappels. Obvious natural or fixed anchors. Assess after each pitch is possible.
4 Advanced-Expert Canyoneering
Route may involve any combination of the following: 1) difficult and exposed free climbing and/or down-climbing, 2) climbing using direct aid, 3) multi-pitch rappels, 4) complex rope work (i.e. guided rappels, deviations, rebelays), 5) obscure or indistinct natural anchors, 6) advanced problem-solving and anchor-building skills. See route description for more information.


A – Normally has water with light to moderate current. Easy water hazards. 

B – Normally has water with strong current. Water hazards like hydraulics and siphons require advanced skills and special care.

C – Normally has water with very strong current. Dangerous water hazards. Experts only.

D– Extreme problems and hazards will be difficult to overcome, even for experienced experts with strong swimming skills.

NOTE: Water level in any canyon can fluctuate greatly from year-to-year, season-to-season, even day-to-day. If, upon arrival at a canyon, you discover the water volume/current is greater than indicated by the rating, descent will be more difficult than suggested by the route description. It will be necessary to reevaluate your decision to attempt the descent.