GUIDE TO THE AFON LLUGWY
(Upper section to Capel Curig)
NAME OF RIVER: Llugwy.
WHERE IS IT?: It is beside the A5 in North Wales, flowing off the Glyders past Capel Curig to meet the Conwy at Betws y Coed.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in up the A5. We got in at a campsite, but I recommend getting in further down. Basically, you can see the river from the road, so decide for yourself. Get out behind Brown's Climbing Shop (behind Spar on turning to Plas y Brenin). Consider carrying on down the next section of the River Llugwy.
APPROX LENGTH: 4 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 2+ hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: We had no problems. At the get in we had to pay 1 parking. WCA handbook says to contact landowner.
Dave Bradshaw (Dec 2002)...'No problems encountered. The farmer at the put-in was a little concerned about his neighbours further down the river, and asked us not to climb any walls.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs to be stonking. We did it on last Dee Tour (Dec '99).
Tim B adds (April 2002)...'We did this river a few months ago in lower water than described by Chucky. There needs to be water around, but doesn't need to be stonking. I guess it depends how much of an adrenaline junkie you are! It would be much more continuous in higher water and trees would become much more of a problem! I would add to the "Hazards/Falls" section that (at the water level we paddled it at), there is a rapid about 2km upstream of Brown's Fall that we had a mini epic on. From the top it looks OK, but just after the final drop is a rock that is a very solid pinning spot. Its worth being aware of as it isn't immediately visible from the top of the rapid. Brown's Fall at this level is probably a grade 4 down the right, and the stopper at the bottom was no problem.'
GRADING: 3-4+ because it is damn tight in places (Brown's Fall at the end is a 5).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees, trees and more trees.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the campsite the river is blocked by too many trees, but the small falls are good fun. We actually left the stream and walked over the field to the other one. Soon the river flattens out and there is a fence across the river, which you can rise to get under. Eventually the rapids pick up, quite a few need inspection. The rapids have trees in them with makes it quite technical. The rapids really form when the river gets to a reasonable size. When you see an iron girder in the river get out to inspect Brown's Fall just down stream. The line down the right under the trees is best (if the water is low enough!!) The stopper at the bottom looks scary, but I managed to land in it sideways and got myself out. Get out to carpark on right.
Dave Bradshaw...'We did it in high water. The rocks above the paddlers head in the photo were just covered. The river was very fast flowing, with a lot of trees in it at the start. Paddling through the trees was not an option at this level. We portaged most of this until we came across a low slate footbridge. We then walked along the footpath to the other river, which was more tree-free. After the confluence, there were less trees in the river, but still enough to make it a nervous paddle. We inspected a lot, though all the lines would have been the first choice from a boat. Eddys were small, which didn't help. There were some quite meaty stoppers for such a small river, and both of us got looped on different rapids.
The lead in to Browns Falls is excellent, with three distinct falls. Browns fall itself has an obvious line down the right which looked quite straightforward (but still big), but was blocked by a fallen tree. There was another line running left to right of the central rock which pushed the grade up to 5, as there were more options for screwing up.'
OTHER NOTES: I recommend that you drive up to the campsite and then drive down. When you see the first rapid get in. I think the river comes close to the road above the first rapid. There are more rapids below that would make a good start for the next section of the River Llugwy.