GUIDE TO THE AFON DULAS
(Forge to Dolguog)
NAME OF RIVER: Afon Dulas (Forge). Mid Wales Gem!
WHERE IS IT?: Mid Wales. Map: Aberystwyth surrounding area no 135. A470 to Machynlleth.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put-in: Drive out of Machynlleth towards the village of Forge, cross the river then head upstream for 5 km. Turn right down to a small bridge, access here.
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'The grid reference is: SN796982. There is space for a car on the right, just after the turn to the bridge and space for 2 more just before there near a barn.'
Take-out: Turn down a small road to Dolguog Hall on the A489. We parked at a holiday site just up the road, the owner of the site was very friendly.
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'We took out at the Dolguog Hall Hotel, alongside some log cabins, opposite the caravan park. The owner/manager(?) was very friendly allowing us to leave a car there. It turned out he used to paddle a bit! We went in for drinks afterwards and had the most amazing hot baguettes. As I was in Wales I had Lamb ;-) '
APPROX LENGTH: 7 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2.5 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: No access agreement but no problems known either.
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'No problems. The locals and kids came out to give us a wave and laugh at us! The farmer whose land has the grade V bit on it allowed us to inspect it before hand. And all the fishermen we encountered turned out to be page 3 girls in various states of undress, who reeled in their lines and welcomed us through.... In fact you could probably say it was the best river in the world! ; - ) Ok, so perhaps not all true - no fishermen or girls as it was outside of the fishing season...'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Runs for a few days after good rain, inspect from the bridge in Forge. The river should have enough to paddle in it but be in its banks. We paddled it at a good medium level and this is the level it is graded for. The river can be inspected easily on the drive up to the get-on.
Phil Woodhead...(Dec 2003) 'The next bridge upstream of the bridge at Forge has a gauge painted underneath it (in white paint). We paddled the river today and it read 2 on the gauge. Although paddleable I would not recommend it at this level - it was too low.'
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'We ran it a tad low'ish. The locals said a little above summer level, plenty of water to paddle in at the bridge at the put-in, but a bit of a scrape at times. This also made some of the harder features portages, mainly due to the water disappearing down nasty slots.'
GRADING: III; IV one fall V.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: In order of approach; one rapid with a tree in it needs portaging. One large tree can be sneaked on an s-bend. one large fall grd V can easily be portaged on the left.
Phil Woodhead...(Dec 2003) 'Didn't encounter any barbed wire. '
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'There are three sets of barbed wire across the river! The first is just around the bend at the put in. The next is just before the next bridge at grid reference SN783988 and the final strand just above the main A489 Machynleth road. The tree blockage/ portage is still there and is riverwide and full of debris'.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river at the get-on is like a small stream. Our group was seven but we split into two groups, a three and a four. There are not many eddies on this river so small groups are advised.
The water is grade II+ to III. There are little drops all the way on the river until you come to a rapid that had a tree stuck in it at the time of paddling, Dec 2001 and needed to be portaged.
A little further on you come to a rapid that drops down into a slot not much wider than a boat. We protected this one but it goes through OK.
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'At the slot that is not much wider than a boat, one of our party in wide boat(?), a Savage, got pinned! Hopefully the photos will come out and can be posted here for maximum embarrassment! We took the pictures first of course, before implementing the rescue... well you do need to get your priorities right!'
The next notable rapid is a grd lV drop with a hard push right then a little rock garden to negotiate, one of our paddlers took it backwards after catching a rock.
There is a mini gorge with a nice drop but this has a tree in it that makes it difficult; you end up bracing off the tree trunk on the way down.
Just before you get into Forge there is a large grd IV rapid. It's a double fall, drop over the step then swing right down a mega shoot, in good levels this is grd IV+, a fantastic rapid and suprisingly big!
400 metres below Forge is the grd V. Flat water proceeds it so it's easy to get out on the left bank to inspect or portage. It's best taken through the guts but the stopper flushes you into a rock wall and can pin a paddler in their boat, in fact this happened to two of us, "Beware".
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'The 2 Grade IV drops - mile before and then just upstream of Forge were a portage for us, as was the grade V. Simply not enough water as it disappeared down the slots - some serious pinning potential.'
A little further on is the get out on the right beneath a footbridge.
OTHER NOTES: This river is a brilliant paddle, it's got everything on it. It starts as a stream then builds up quite considerably in volume. A disappointing feature was that there was a scrap car in it and some empty barrels of diesel floating in it. We reported this to the EA but this did not spoil our trip too much. This trip can be combined with the Afon Twymyn just up the road.
David Lloyd...(Sept 2004) 'The Car IS still there....unbelievable!'
Simon Turnbull (Nov 2003)...'The Car is still there - A Cortina? Plus the other odd bit of scrap metal here and there. Otherwise the water was crystal clear!'
We parked in the 1st layby to the hotel and had a chat with a friendly chap in a van who does not mind paddlers, but he does object to the litter they are leaving behind!! He also said there were quite a few paddlers now.
We also met with the owner of the Dolguog Hall. He was very friendly but said he was noticing a higher number of paddlers using his car park. He asked that people parked in the rear carpark and advised that he would appreciate anyone parking letting him know.
He has had problems with people blocking the passing places on the drive to the hotel, inconsiderate parking and then abuse from paddlers when asked to park with more consideration!!! This is his land and livelyhood and hopefully we can help with his wishes. He kayaks himself and had no problems with people egressing the river here.
For a guide the EA bridge Dyfi was at 1.69m (not the same river but the Dulas flows into it)
The river was on the lowish side. There were a couple of tree trucks across the entire river which requires portaging. Most of the river was G2 with the odd G3 drop. Last drop before Forge bridge was maybe G4- at this level. We got out after this at the bridge. All the portages were clearly visable and nothing sneaked up on you.