GUIDE TO THE AFON DWYFACH
(Pont Wen to Plas Talhenbont)
NAME OF RIVER: Afon Dwyfach.
WHERE IS IT: Lleyn Peninsula, N Wales.
No sensible parking close to the put in, one car at most, further down the road. Parking at the take out is limited as well.
APPROX LENGTH: 6 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, no official agreement and close to the Gwyrfai and Llyfni so its probably not great.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It will go when it is just lapping over the boulder midstream, just upstream of the put in bridge. If this stone is well covered then its probably too high.
GRADING: Continuous, technical grade 2+.
MAJOR HAZARDS: Trees, trees and more trees. As of September 2004 there were 3 trees that needed portaging and many more that were careful sneaks. Just below the first footbridge crossing the river there were three strands of barbed wire that could be ducked under. The boulder was just showing at the put in. If the level was much higher than this, the flow would be much faster and many of the trees would constitute a major hazard.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river starts off very windy and the first tree portage is about a hundred metres after the start. The trees overhang the river which consists of a series of boulder rapids, never hard but pleasantly continuous. It remains like this for about 2km, weaving its way along the bottom of the valley, losing height at a steady gradient.
The next section of the river is flatter but still studded with small rapids. A small foot bridge is passed under and about 100m after this, 3 strands of barbed wire cross the river, sometimes duckable, be prepared to portage however. The second tree portage is shortly afterwards and then the largest drop on the river, a messy 2 foot.
After another kilometre the river sides begin to rise and an open gorge is entered. The rapids become more defined and this is the nicest section. There is one more tree portage, easily done on the river right. As you paddle down below this, look out for the cave of lost souls, tree druid, youths last flush and numerous detached body parts in the Plas Talhenbont forest. A weir is about 200m below this, easier on the left but blocked by a tree currently, forcing you right over the step. A few more pleasing rapids lead down to the take out at the large stone arched bridge. There is a massive, river wide tree strainer about 25m below the bridge.
OTHER NOTES: It is possible to paddle on down to Bont Fechan, see Chris Sladdens The Welsh Rivers for details.
Despite the grade, this is not a river to take beginners on. The trees, while easy to avoid add considerably to the hazards on the river. Likewise, paddle it in high water very much at your own risk. However, dont be put off, it is a marvellous adventure.
The nearby Afon Dwyfor is worth a look.
(A great place for paddlers to stay: www.boulderadventures.co.uk)