GUIDE TO THE AFON MAWDDACH
(Eden confluence to GR 730234)
NAME OF RIVER: River Mawddach.
WHERE IS IT?: It is normal to combine this river with the Afon Eden, which starts at Pont Y Grible (Just South of Bronaber on the A470), weaving it's way through Coed Y Brenin until being joined by the Afon Mawddach and the infamous Afon Gamlan and ending at the Stone Bridge and Car Park (GR 730234) Map: Dolgellau and Surrounding Area, No. 124.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The normal put in for a Mawddach only trip is Pont ar Eden - just after the Eden joins the Mawddach.
Take out at a bridge and car park, GR 730234. Otherwise, carry on 3km more for mostly easier paddling, finishing at GR 729210 beside the main road.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 km.
TIME NEEDED: We (group of 5) took 5 1/2 hours to do it all, including relevant inspections and one or two rescues!
ACCESS HASSLES: Contact the WCA River Advisor for up to date access information.
From Rory and Fiona (1/12/00).......After a chance meeting with the Welsh Environmental Agency on Saturday, they say there is no paddling access to this 'stretch'. They would enforce this by calling the bailiff who would book us!
At this point we were at the second road access at Geli Goch GR 711290, where they have built a FISH WEIR, just south of the ford. I assumed that they just meant the upper Eden but did not want to ask about the Eden from Pont Dolgefeillau down as that might be pushing our luck. They were pretty reasonable once we had explained that normally we would respect their request, but we were only wanting to do this stretch to see if we could find any gear from the day before. They were generally pretty peeved because all their signs kept being ripped down by 'paddlers' but after a long chat about water levels and fish weirs they let us get on once we had agreed to spread the word! It may be worth respecting this wish if it makes life easier on the rest of the Eden/ Mawddach, anybody else know more or better?'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: At the point where the Afon Crawcwelt joins the Afon Eden there is a river gauge on one of the bridges. We ran the river when the water reached the '8' on the gauge. This gave a good grade IV run. If you got on at Pont Y Grible the overhanging branches should all be in the river.
GRADING: In Flood this river give a good III/ IV run, with some very continuous sections of IV.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The weir after Pont ar Eden (ie the weir after the confluence with the Mawddach). This is a large weir with sloping central shoot, dangerous in high water; inspect and portage as necessary.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Just below the start of the Mawddach there is a sticky weir. Approach with caution, although it is usually runnable.
Then shortly afterwards is a splendid grade 4 fall known as 'Public Toilet Falls' which is worth inspecting. In high water it is simply a wave train, in low you have to find your way around a mid-stream rock...at in between levels there is a stopper to dodge!
Once past the weir sustained grade III rapids and one grade IV boulder garden lead to the bridge where you get out into the car park on river left, above a bridge.
If you carry on, there are another three kilometres which get progressively easier, before taking out at a footpath up to the roadside (river right).
OTHER NOTES: This river was very sustained and technical all the way. It's a great river although, apparently, is only worth doing in high water. Two other groups followed us down this river later in the day losing 3 boats and a paddle between them, highlighting the serious nature of the river. I would recommend this river to anyone but be prepared not to be able to take a breather until you're in the car!
Rory Sellar (Jan 2004)...'This used to be my 'local' river but paddled this in huge water 13th December, after doing the Afon Prysor; kept waiting for the 'Boulderfield' section but it never appeared. Talked to the locals and they said that they had some huge floods which had taken out a number of bridges and had 'moved' most of the huge boulders. So now has lost some of its continous feeling in big water.'
Mark Rainsley (Jan 2004)...'I paddled this at medium and high levels on Boxing Day 2003. It can tak a lot of water and is perhaps a good place to head when other things are getting too big for your taste. However, it is certainly at the easy end of grade 4 and feels like a short wind-down after a run on the upper Mawddach.'
From Rory and Fiona (1/12/00)...'Just a little note of warning. We paddled this stretch from Pont y Grible to Geli Goch in mega flood levels (above 9 on the indicator), October half term, it was about two foot down from the top of the fish weir at Geli Goch (not in guidebooks and definitely a portage). At this level about a 100 metres up stream from the ford, around a blind bend there is a sheep fence right across the river and at this level there are no breakouts and it's only about a foot above the surface.
At normally paddling levels when the water the river is huge (ie PTF, no boulder and the gorge is completely boulder free) the water is over the wire mesh on the Fish weir, the river is contained in its bank and you have a little more time. We have 3 older (if that's possible) wiser, poorer and pretty scared paddlers who only just lived to tell the tale. Also there is a tree down just below Two Morals rapid, and a much more serious tree right across the Eden half to two thirds of the way down, on a gorge.'