GUIDE TO THE AFON COLWYN
(National Park campsite to Glaslyn confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Colwyn.
WHERE IS IT?: It is near the A498 Capel Curig to Porthmadog road in Snowdonia.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: From the A498 (N or S) turn onto the A4085 at Beddgelert. Just out of town there's a left hand drive and bridge. Quickly look upstream at the gauge river left. Above 4 is suitable, but in spate I wouldn't recommend it. Continue upstream on the A4085, past a park site, and take the small lane a km on the left. Park carefully on the left by the farmhouse, and get on just downstream of the bridge.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles?
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. Please only paddle in small groups as the farmer can get upset, there's not much parking, and the river's just not big enough. Where you get on, at the farm, please ask the elderly gent if he doesn't mind, and exactly where you should go. He never refuses to let you on, but if you don't ask he'll storm out of his house, and you'll waste half an hour before he eventually lets you on! Cheers.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: See above.
GRADING: Grade 4 and 5.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees. Narrow. Steep.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the get in the river's tight, with many rocks to bounce. Avoiding trees and boulders numerous drops are run, take a look upstream and appreciate the gradient.
A tree then blocks the path, and inspection is a wise plan. A double drop follows, which seems to run anywhere, left to right works well. More rapids pass until the river ramps downwards towards an obvious right hand turn and fronting wall. Breakout left, the eddies aren't large, and inspect. Protection may be wise (grade IV/V), although you can usually boof your probe when he gets stuck!
Carry on down stream until the bridge with the gauge is reached. Break out river right before or after the bridge(small eddy after bridge). The Dragon's Tail (V), or something, awaits. Boof the top drop, rock beneath underwater, and into the squeeze below. Continue through Beddgelert and down to the Aberglaslyn Gorge, which should be running well, making for an excellent day.
OTHER NOTES: Mark Leicester (May 2002)...'We ran the Colwyn in that glorious autumn of 2000 at very high levels - the gauge above Dragon's Tail goes up to 8, was above 7 when we went to get on the river and had disappeared by the time we got to it! At this level it is very continuous, very, very exciting and certainly not to be underestimated. From the run in to the FC campsite the river at these levels is full on 4+/5/5+ all the way to the Glaslyn with few eddies, and those that do exist are small and not very friendly. The drop Terry Storey describes as Paddle Test had a very chunky stopper (as I discovered to my disadvantage). We portaged one drop above the footbridge which Chris Sladden describes as a sharp drop into a diagonal stopper - it looked frightening at these high levels and the eddies above are very small are hard to make. We also portaged Dragon's Tail. However the paddling was awesome, and our general consensus is that it is possibly the best, most exciting and continuous paddling we have done in the UK. We did the Aberglaslyn Gorge that day as well - fabulous!'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jamie, also Mark Leicester.
Also the gauge appears to have gone, and there are trees in Dragons Tail. Still a decent run and one that deserves to get run more often. And if the Colwyn is running you just have to do Aberglaslyn afterwards.