GUIDE TO THE AFON LLEDR
(Pont y Pant to Beaver Pool)
NAME OF RIVER: Lledr.
WHERE IS IT?: Up the A470 from the Beaver Pool near Betws y coed. Head towards Blaenau Ffestiniog. There is also a section upstream of here.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: About 6 km up the road from the take out is the putin. Turn left just before Pont y Pant and put in either just above the tiny bridge if you will run the first mega drop or climb down the bank (river left) to where you feel confident about putting in.
Take out on the Conwy at Beaver pool, just below the Fairy Glen.
Dave Bradshaw (jan 2005)...'The people working on improving the road have built a track that leads to the bottom of the first drop, which makes getting there a lot easier than scrambling down the bank. You just need to walk a little further down the road to find the entrance to the track.'
Alan Rotsey (May 2003)...'We failed to find the scramble down the bank, however, an easy alternative is a foot path leading down to below the gorge section immediately after Pont y Pant falls. To get to this cross over the bridge and take the road on the left. Follow this downhill to where it bends right. Continue straight on here on the path now and you will come to the river. We also took out just after the humped back bridge with the G5 slot and backlooping fall just below.'
APPROX LENGTH: 6 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2-3 hours?
ACCESS HASSLES: Doesn't seem to be too much of a problem if you have a small group, although we did get chased by a Farmer at one point. He seemed OK after we talked to him although at the point he wanted to speak to us we didn't have any eddys and so appeared to rudely keep on going...
Alan Rotsey (May 2003)...'The river is fairly inaccessible from the road (as we found when trying to inspect the major falls), so it's unlikely you'll find any fishermen angry or otherwise except on the last few hundred meters before it flows into the Conwy'.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs rain. If it's bank full it's awesome. If you can float good lines at the first rapid then the river has enough water.
GRADING: Mostly III-IV with some V and VI which may be runnable depending on water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Yep!
(1) Gnarly drop at the putin. Not the best warm up in the world.
(2) The entrance drop on the Rhiw Goch gorge has a gnarly towback at high levels. Alledgedly runnable at low-levels. Portage river left. Put in directly below for some great gorge fun.
Chris Sladden adds...(18/11/01) 'The entrance fall on Rhiw Goch gorge is straight forward when lowish - line through the right if I remember but the stopper and tow back look disasterous in high flows.'
(3) Just before the railway viaduct get ready to portage right. Railway Viaduct Falls go at low water but it'll be rocky.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Some great paddling, requiring some careful leading. Excellent playwaves and rapids at III-IV and some cracking steep sections. Most of the difficulties are visible from the road. A great section to do when there's a lot of water about. We paddled this when the Fairy Glen looked like the Oetz.
Alan Rotsey (June 2003)...'Starting below the first little gorge, the river is a fairly continuous grade 3 at the levels we did it (not high, but not rocky either...the gauge on the Conwy read about 4). There are a couple of horizon lines where the actual line isn't obvious until you're almost on top of the drop. Bearing in mind some of the harder drops, it's worth checking anything if you are unsure. The double drop appears on a sharpish left hand bend of the river. There is a large eddy on river right to stop and inspect this and safety is fairly easy to set up. If you feel inclined to portage, that's also easiest on the right, with a cheeky vertical seal launch into the outflow from the drop or a more conventional put in at river level.
The entrance to the Rhiw Goch gorge is only a couple of hundred meters further downstream, when we paddled it there was a tow back of about a boatlength on the right, and it flushed through river left, although still looking a fairly serious proposition, inspect and portage on the river left if you intend to run the gorge. There is also a path river left to portage the whole gorge as well as a series of dubious looking ladders along the gorge wall to allow all the drops to be inspected before the gorge is run. Beware of the handrails as they aren't all that secure.
The river eases up after the gorge, and the gradient decreases.
The river splitting around an island is the first warning of Railway Viaduct Falls. Either side of the island went when we were there with the right hand side being harder and more technical (although no more than a G4.) Soon after this the stone wall from the railway appears on your right. There is a G3ish rapid then some flat (about 100m) followed by Railway Viaduct Falls, although the eddy above these is fairly large, so are the consequences of missing it.
Again, there is a path river right to allow you to portage the falls from either above or below the G3 rapid. Below the falls, the river continues at around G2/3 for a couple of km. A humped back bridge warns of the approach of a G5 slot which looked fairly nasty at the levels we paddled it at with a reasonable towback and difficult protection prospects. The drop which backloops just below this also looked quite meaty, however as it was the fishing season and we weren't sure if we had access or not (although there were a couple of other groups on the river as well as us), we elected to get out river left here. There is a path up to the main road and a small layby over the bridge you just paddled under, however this is only suitable for small groups - one maybe two cars is all the layby would take.'
OTHER NOTES: These notes are hazy, we paddled this section in Dec 1999. There is a section upstream from Pont y Pant, anyone done it?
Also...read an article about testing contact lenses on the river.
Chris Sladden...'The section above the Roman bridge has two good Corsican like falls on it and there is a classic drop below the Roman bridge- if the "recent " road works haven't chucked rubbish in. One or two other drops and some flat down to Pont y Pant. There were some other contact lenses lost on the Lledr some 16 years ago- The narrow slot just before the Conwy thrashed all of us but in particular a friend of mine called Dave Dixon - who took a significant underwater swim. He was almost unconscious when pulled out but managed a grin plus a request to help him find his contact lens- somewhere in the botton of a massively swollen Lledr!'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Evans (12/11/01), also Chris Sladden, Dave Bradshaw and Alan Rotsey Oxford University Canoe and Kayak Club.