(Ysbyty Ifan to Rhydlanfair Bridge)


WHERE IS IT?: In Snowdonia, North Wales, it's the river which follows the A5 as you approach Betws y Coed from the Corwen/ Llangollen direction.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Many. There is a harder upper section which I haven't paddled, but this section begins in the village of Ysbyty Ifan which is up a turnoff from the A5. Take out on river left just before Rhydlanfair Bridge. The section directly below is harder and leads without much warning over Conwy Falls. Plenty of people have wound up clinging to rocks in mid-current above it...


TIME NEEDED: 2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Full access details are at

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: I've done this after heavy rain when it's a blast. It is paddleable for a few days after rain due to spongy moor in the headwaters...or so they told me at Plas Menai outdoor centre all of 12 years ago.

Andy Wilson notes...'There is a new gauge on the river at the A5 road bridge put in which is much more visible than the old one (3 = low water,4 = medium, 5+ = getting better).'

GRADING: Grade 3 with one 4 in high water.


GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The upper section of this river from the village before reaching the A5 offers enjoyable and continuous Grade 2-3 rapids, with one twisty rocky constriction cranking the grade up to 3+ for a short distance.

Reaching the A5, the river begins a fairly open 'gorge' section, with many grade 3 rapids to enjoy. When we paddled this in big spate, it was superb continuous grade 3 with some playholes to muck around in.

After you pass under a stone road bridge, you see a large house on the right and this means it's time to look out for Bryn Bras Falls. This long and complicated rapid (grade 3+) finally takes the paddler down a long chute on river right. I have been rescued from a pin across this by a well-known North Wales coach...I still enjoyed the 'intro to WW' course though, and kept with the sport! The rapid forms big waves and stoppers in spate, Grade 4.

Not long after is the takeout bridge. Make sure you recognise this, as the section directly below is much more serious.

Pictures of the Conwy


CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, Adrian Walker, Ros W and Andy Wilson.