GUIDE TO THE AFON ARDDU
(Upper section to Llanberis Falls)
NAME OF RIVER: Afon Arddu.
There seems to be some confusion over this. There is a confluence about 300m above put in where the Arddu and the Hwch meet. The Arddu is the bigger river at that point so I guess that it keeps its name. The bridge over the river downstream has 'Afon Hwch' on it though. Chris Sladden refers to it as the Arddu, although he does describe paddling it from above the confluence.
WHERE IS IT?: It flows down beside the Snowdon Mountain Railway Viaducts, Llanberis, North Wales. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKEOUTS: Launch 800 metres up past the Railway Falls.
APPROX LENGTH: 800m.
TIME NEEDED: 10 minutes!
ACCESS HASSLES: There is a footpath up in the area however it does run through a farmers field... me and a friend have done this river a couple of times now and have always found the locals (including a drunken fisherman) very friendly and welcoming. Often hanging around to see you hit the drops.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Most of the drops go several days after rain however pencilling the grade 4 drop could be painful at this level... if theres a good amount of water running over the side face off Llanberis Falls (not the main slide) then the section above the falls should be a goer! (Though both times we did it there was less water than this so make your own mind up when you get there).
GRADING: Fairly constant 3/4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Make sure you get out before Llanberis Falls...
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Put on below the main fall at the top of the walkable section of the river... youll know it when you see it, as walking any further involves a lot of faffing about and climbing over barbed wire fences.
This fall rates a V+ on my scale but 3 people from my CC have run on the extreme river right so make your own opinions. However I would warn anyone attempting it that there is a really gnarly undercut on the left hand side of the pool above the drop so if you run the lead in fall (grade 3/4) be aware of it...
After this there's a nice bouncy lead in rapid up to the only technical drop on the river. Definitely a 4+ in my mind due to the fact that its so narrow (about three foot at the top) and the rock has formed in such a way as to create a bit of a diagonally sloping shelf half way down the fall. Although, this wont effect you if you hit the boof (as its a narrow ledge) the consequences of pencilling down and rotating onto this second flow of water could be quite upsetting. A friend of mine did this and he definitely didnt enjoy it.
In low water the section after this is pretty much a 3 with numerous rockslides and small drops, however half way down theres a drop that is almost completely covered by a tree that is almost certainly there for the duration...we tried to clear some of the branches but with little effect. I have however found that it does go (without too much tree interference) on the far right but just be aware that the hole is stickier than it looks and getting sucked back would mean tangling with the tree which I found to be unpleasant.
Now portage Llanberis Falls and run the lower Arddu...
OTHER NOTES: Have done this twice to make the trip to the lower section (below Llanberis Falls) a more worth while trip. I would definitely recommend it!
As you look at the main falls from the bottom if you turn your head to threeOclock theres a tributary coming in from the right... I had a quick wander up there and found a fantastic looking rockslide waterfall down a gully that looks like it would go in higher water... iv been told that its been done but does anyone have any pictures?
CONTRIBUTED BY: CJ Headleand, Bangor uni CC.