GUIDE TO THE AFON LLYFNI
(Nantlle to Pontllyfni)
NAME OF RIVER: Llyfni.
WHERE IS IT?: Nantlle to Pontllyfni, B4418 to A499, crossing A487(T), not far South of Caernarfon. North West Wales.
PUT-INS/ TAKEOUTS: Take out on the sea after Pontllyfni after a little bit of surf if you're lucky. Put in at the bottom of the lake by Nantlle, or avoid several miles of flat by getting in at Penygroes. Nowhere as convenient there though.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles.
TIME NEEDED: about an hour or two with the flat section.
ACCESS HASSLES: Not great, you should be fine as long as the run is straight through onto the sea, and doesn't involve climbing out through fields. Had a bit of a lecture from a farmer about how we city types invaded their haven, and that if they wanted to use our parks and things, they'd have to pay, etc, etc. Mostly it's well removed from human contact.
Mark French... (Dec 2004) 'Didn't encounter any bother at all. At the end it is best to paddle down to the sea and then walk back up to the road, just down the road there is a garage. I went to ask whether or not it would be possible to leave my car in their car park; the man was very helpful and there was no problem, but please ask first this is a
really good and safe place, don't jeopardise it.'
Irwell Shufflers...'Attempted to paddle this river on the 10th November 2002. Local officer of the Seiont, Gwyrfai and Lyfni Anglers came threatening prosecution for trespass, and began taking down car numbers. After a 15 min argument, reinforcements came to back him up, and we were followed out of the valley by people in 4WD on mobile phones. He told us that he'd had massive rows with paddlers the day before as well. Looks like the hassle is back on! Time for another CRACK protest against these boyo's methinks.'
Sarah Williams (November 2002)...'Whilst paddling on the Llyfni in November 2002 we also encountered access problems with the local anglers. The police were called but after we explained the situation he was happy to let us on. We had payed a local farmer 1 per paddler for access onto the river so it really is just the local anglers we are dealing with here. Perhaps to ease the access problems it may be possible to find alternative access in Penygroes and therefore avoiding the contentious spawning area.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge by weir on road from Pontllyfni to Penygroes at about GR 440524 I believe it was between 2 and 4 when we ran it, which was fine.
GRADING: Grade 2 for the first 3 km then continuous grade 2/3 till the end.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Apparently a couple of weirs are sticky, wasn't the case when we ran it at a decent level. There was a river wide tree at one point, acting a bit like a weir. Minor tree hazard at start of interesting section after Penygroes.
Dave at Boulder Adventures, www.boulderadventures.co.uk, September 2004...'We had a run down the Llyfni last night at a reasonably high level, probably higher than the descriptions given already. It was a superb run, apart from the start there were no flat sections at all and much of the lower section was grade III.
There were however 2 massive strainers, one just after the railway tunnel outside Llanllyfni where the branches of a fallen tree block the river completely. The second, much more dangerous is a fallen trunk blocking the river in the winding rhododendron lined section about 2km below the tunnel. There is no way round it and it is hidden behind a narrow gap in the bushes.
We accessed the river from the Welsh Water pumping station track in Talysarn (484548 OS Explorer 13) from where an unmarked footpath leads down to a dismantled railway bridge over the river. This is just off the B4418, just opposite a prominent terrace of houses. This misses out the Everglades and a long section of flat water. Egress was on river left below the Pont Llyfni road bridge. This gave us 10km of continuous white water.
At the level we ran this it was not suitable for beginners, eddies were scarce and those that were there were small. Overhanging trees meant lots of weaving and a swim would have been uncomfortable. That said if you are happy on grade III then it deserves all of its 5 stars in Chris Sladdens book.'
A.P. Boag-Monroe adds...'Paddled February 2002, what appear to be metal posts center of the current under the railway bridge part way down after a left hand turn in the river, one of our paddlers was pinned on it and had to make a technical exit, appears to be fine to either left or right of the obstruction but best to take care (scraped quite a bit of boat off).'
Sarah Williams (November 2002)...'Whilst paddling this river at medium flow be aware that there is a large tree breaching the width of the river through the narrower grade 3 gorge section, one of our group members suffered a nasty pin which ended in him taking a battered swim under the tree. Otherwise a very nice little river with plenty of playful river waves.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Nice tranquil undemanding run, but worth a go if you don't want anything harder. Not too bad with novices, although it's pretty continuous, and it's not advisable to get them out early to be shouted at by farmers. Most hazards are rocks, quite a few weirs at the end, and there's a sewage outlet just before the sea, after the main road bridge.
Fantastic paddling out onto the sea as dusk approaches, I bet the sunset must be great.
Initial section is through a thicket - known as the 'Everglades' section, you'll see why if you do it. After this, the river is flat and appears canalised to Penygroes. Shortly afterwards, following a few awkward trees, the rapids start, and it's continuous II/III to the sea. There may be some 'permanent debris' on one of the larger drops (2 feet or so) - where it appeared to us that a plank had been nailed in place as a 'gotcha'. Didn't catch anyone at that level, anyway, should disappear well at higher levels.
OTHER NOTES: Mark French, Dec 2004...'You can see the river on the drive up, its one of those river where you just know if it's running, or at the end of the river stand on the bridge and if there is good flow it's on. We didn't fancy the Everglades section so we got on just after underneath the road bridge. A footpath leads down to the river next to the bridge, parking was cool just up from the bridge; there is a large car park by some council houses. We ran it on 23 December 2004 it was at a good level quite high. There were quite a lot of low trees; two in particular, one a fallen tree that covers half of the river but can be paddled past without too much bother, the next one is a huge tree which has to be portaged. You need good stamina there were no eddies for about 8 km. Absolutely cracking river, very hard work but so much fun at the sea if there's waves - we had a surf as well!'
There are a couple of big trees right across the river just around the blind corner below Pont y Cim (the narrow ancient arched bridge upstream of the take out with a fast shoot of water into a stopper), fortunately there is a decent eddy below the bridge but you can't see the trees until committed to the corner & only small eddies between the rocks - take care.
As the guide says there was a river wide tree below the tunnel (a few km) and there is a further river wide trunk about 500m below this which is at head height at the level we ran it at.
An enjoyable run nevertheless but not so sure starting at Nantle adds much other a meander through the "everglades" and a fairly long canalised section of 2 or 3 km which is boring. Perhaps starting on the village after the end of the canalised section.