GUIDE TO THE RIVER LLIW
(West End of Bala Lake to Llanuwchilyn)
NAME OF RIVER: Lliw
WHERE IS IT?:North Wales, at the west end of Bala lake, near the village of Llanuwchllyn and the river Twrch.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in near an isolated farmhouse when you can see the impressive waterfalls at the head of the valley. Take out at the next road bridge by a phone box
APPROX LENGTH: 5km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 Hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: There were some No Parking signs at the head of the valley. Leave your car in a considerate place where they will not obstruct the farmer or other vehicles.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The river should look barely paddlable at the put-in and take-out. If it is much higher than this the big drops will be horrendous. Steady light rain should be sufficient.
GRADING: Grade 5/5+.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Serious multi-tiered drops and slides.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river begins as an innocuous grade 2 bimble. After about a kilometre you find isolated grade 4 slide/slot (easily portaged), then it eases back to grade 3 eddy-hopping. After about two kilometres of easy water, the gradient dramatically increases, and you suddenly find yourself among exceedingly steep, rocky, multi-tiered drops and slides. The rapids are long, intimidating, complex, hard to protect, and high consequence. Just as your nerves are getting frayed, the river abruptly returns to grade 2/3, and you find yourself floating down to the take-out
ADDITIONAL INFO: A few of us went to run just the drops and slides half way down. First time the water level was a low scrape but was good for a first run. The day after we ran it with more water (at the road bridge near Bala lake, the gravel beds were just covered). All the drops and slides go, they can be broken down into 3 sections starting with the easiest and finishing with the hardest. All can be portaged and protected on river left via the footpath.
We used this EA gauge to guess the water level - 0.75 is low medium, 1.0 was a medium high. ( http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/riverlevels/120769.aspx?stationId=4178 ).
CONTRIBUTED BY: Dr Robin & Ieuan Belshaw.