A small but dedicated band (Adrian W, Guy and Les) battled with gale force winds
for the LLugwy trip – and that was just getting the boats on the car roof outside
Ford towers at early o’clock on a Saturday morning. I swear Sarah was laughing at
us as she waved us off and headed back to bed. Others had pulled out, family duties
to be done or needing the full day to ‘do hair’ ahead of an evening out.
Plan A was to go to the LLugwy, plan B was the Tryweryn and plan C was a day at Mile
End Mill. Plan C it was - sadly the weather forecast removing A and the Environment
Agency B (why did the Tryweryn release Friday but not sat or sun – a mystery beyond
even Benedict Cumberbatch’s alter ego I feel!) Never mind it was still paddling!
Arriving in Llangollen it was apparent that the river was up and the weather forecast
may not have been entirely truthful about the absence of rain (or perhaps it was
all the lovely Tryweryn water arriving there?) As the weather was miserable we mulled
over the situation around a cuppa and a large cookie awaiting the arrival further
reinforcements. Once Simon and Vics arrived, having overridden the Spencer auto-pilot
that was heading for a different corner of Wales, a decision was reach – if the Dee’s
up, maybe there would be enough water in the Llugwy.
With the hindsight only gained by a 50minute drive through Wales, it transpired that
no there wasn’t really enough water. Oh well we’re here now so lets paddle it with
the odd scrape. So began the ‘comedy’ unloading boats in gale force winds – with
the added amusement that only driving drizzle can bring to the occasion. Why didn’t
we just stay in the café?
We actually set off on the Nantgwynant – starting in the little lake by Plas-y-Brenin
amidst rolling waves. On the river gently moving water (and the gales) moved us down
to the confluence with the Llugwy, having survived the wind trying to capsize us,
and the first rapids. Lovely playful rapids interspersed flatter sections down to
the first two notable rapids. A quick inspection showed the slot (g3) would be no
problem, but Cobdens (g4) as there wasn’t enough water to run it. Although the low
level did allow us to get out right on the lip of the bigger fall, not something
I’d normally advocate, for a quick portage a lunch in the shelter of the crags.
Back on the river, and a short paddle brought us to Pont Cyfog, a nice 3 tier fall
weighing in at a meaty grade 6, so no we didn’t get out on the lip of this one. Portaging
along the road afforded a good view into all the drops – the first might be tempting,
but the others no thanks, and you’d some serious equipment to get in and out!
Regaining the river at a considerably lower altitude, we paddled in to look at the
bottom fall and hope we’d fool some tourists into thinking we just done it. Then
off again – a fab ‘graveyard’ section over about ¾ mile – it would have been more
fabulous with a foot more water - as it was it provided us with lots practice at
reading the water and getting off pins! This a stark contrast to the last time Simon,
Vics and I looked at paddling this when the water was, we reckon, about 5 foot higher
and running through the trees – strangely enough we gave it a miss that day.
Beyond were more fun grade 2’s until Forestry Falls, another grade 3 just above the
get off. Here route finding was a real challenge – that is finding enough water!
With hindsight (again) walking the first bit would have been a good idea, but never
We really must go back when it does have more water in it - but it’s a tricky beggar
to find at the right level!