GUIDE TO THE AFON NANTYGWYRYD
(Pen y Gwyryd Hotel to Llynnau Mymbyr)
NAME OF RIVER: Nantygwyryd. Pronounced....well, you tell me.
WHERE IS IT?: In Snowdonia, hidden up the A4 past Capel Curig beside the road to Pen y Pass. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start beside the Pen y Gwyryd Hotel; don't get on at the little lake there as we found (embarrassingly) that the outlet isn't big enough to paddle through. Get out beside Garth Farm Falls (visible from the road under a farm track bridge) or in Llynnau Mymbyr. If you're feeling fit, you might want to paddle right across these lakes into the River Llugwy.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs really heavy rain. It should be obvious when it's on...
GRADING: Grade 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Very narrow and steep. A surprising array of low slung bridges and wire fences in the top section. A waterfall portage. Trees are a problem in the last few hundred metres to the lake.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put-in, the first rapid is called 'Rockslide' and it's continuous for at least a mile, consisting of...rock slides. This is amazing fun, steep and fast but not too technically demanding. You do need to be awake and 'eddy-hop' the blind bends as there are at least two bridges/ wire fences to portage or sneak around.
Start looking out for Llys Falls, the portage. Llys Falls is a small waterfall with '999 Lifesavers TV Appearance' written all over it. Look for a tributary entering from the right. Get out within 100 metres of this. If you proceed past the remains of an old bridge (covered in high water) you are too close for comfort. Llys Falls are below. Portage on the right bank.
Beyond this portage, the river loses its gradient and becomes progressively easier. Mellow out and enjoy the scenery, before you reach Garth Farm Falls, a rocky Grade 4 drop hidden below a farm track bridge. Inspection is recommended here. You have the choice of a crunchy pinball experience on river left or a hard boof to avoid a shallow looking drop on river right. Or you could just get out above and go get the coffee flask out of your car...you can finish here or carry on the short distance to the lake. Note that trees are awkward in the last stretch to the lake.
Sam Moore (April 2005)...'The Nantygwyrd has a few changes. About 100m after the put in there is a fence across the river that needs to be portaged. The girder/ concrete that is mentioned in 'Sladden' as a marker for the grade 5 drop is no longer there, or if it is it has been overgrown. The best guide now is that you have less than 100m from where the river LLys joins on river right. Also the telegraph pole has gone as well. 'Garth Falls' at the end of the run goes on river right and its not as shallow as might have been suggested previously.'
OTHER NOTES: Highly recommended if you get enough rain. It's in no way extreme, but hurtling down the steep slides waving to the sheep as they whizz past is a peculiar experience that you could only have in Wales...
Ian Cave adds (June 2000)...'paddled this in December and it was absolutely bank-full. Great blast having to be awake all the while. Be careful of the waterfall (5+) when we ran the river, I missed the last eddy and had to run it blind. Went hard at the left hand wall, missed the crease and followed the green underneath and surfaced at the bottom. My paddling partner ran it after looking at it and dropped in the crease and verticalled out. The last last hole is grippier than it looks. If you do have pilot error above best plan paddle like f###, close eyes, hope for best. River Left above the crease was clean.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Sam Moore, David Luke and Ian Cave.