GUIDE TO THE RIVER DEE
(Ty Mawr Country Park to Overton Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Dee (or Afon Dyfrdwy if you're Welsh...)
WHERE IS IT?: Ty Mawr Country Park, Newbridge to Overton Bridge, alongside the A539.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS:
Put-In: A 5 minute carry to the river from the Ty Mawr Country Park Visitor's centre (SJ 281 412). Refer to 'take-out' instructions for the previous stretch (it's the same only backwards!)
Take-Out: We egressed at the Boat Inn in Erbistock (SJ354413), on river left after checking with the manager for permission to park a vehicle. A mile or two downstream there is a footpath on river left below Overton Bridge, with possibly easier parking in the vicinity and another pub (the Cross Foxes).
Map shows both egress points.
APPROX LENGTH: 16 Km (10 miles).
TIME NEEDED: 3-4 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Excellent - you are completely unrestricted by an access agreement since there isn't one (http://www.sharedrivers.org.uk/dee/dee.htm). The section is readily accessed from public roads and footpaths, though there may be parking issues to overcome at egress points. Refer to this for further advice.
Be especially alert when entering the larger pools, this is where we encountered fishermen as one might expect. Our experience was one of being greeted rather than abused and we easily passed them from the far side and without apparent disturbance. It was Easter Sunday lunchtime when we did this trip. You might encounter more fishermen at other times, especially during the summer months.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Mile End Mile gauge gives a good measure of what to expect on this section.
A level of 1700 on the gauge (4 on the stick) gave a very good run, with all the rapids in good condition. Comparison of water level comments in Chris Sladdens book with observations on our trip indicates that this section gives a good run well below 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Two weirs present hazards towards the end of the section. Both are likely portages. The first of these weirs is apparently not marked on some OS maps, but is shown on the one above at SJ 348 416. See below.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: To put in, carry down to the river. The gated road to the left of the car park gives a more direct route down the hill than winding through the
country park itself. Better for carrying boats.
As the river passes under the second bridge it starts to improve in character. You enter tree-lined secluded areas with the odd pheasant to be seen (watch out for shooting ?). Grade II rapids and decisions on channels around islands punctuate the journey. The A483 road bridge makes quite a contrast to the bridges of earlier eras seen higher up the river.
A couple of miles further on and you pass the Avon Ceiriog confluence. You are now over half way through the section. Another mile and you come to a house on the left bank and a bridge of sorts. By this point the rapids have diminished to grade I.
About a mile further on, after a couple of small bends you come to a large fishing pool, the river bends hard right and you will see a 100 yards or so downstream a concrete pillar in the middle of the river. Chris Sladden recommends a portage except possibly when water is only going down the right hand side. At a normal river level water was just going over the left but the right channel already looked lethal. Would the left go in these conditions? By the time youve thought it out you might as well have
portaged. Find a spot on river left where you can clamber up the muddy bank and you will find a footpath.
Just around the corner and you arrive at the Boat Inn on river left. We finished here. You might want continue to Overton Bridge, a couple of miles further on. There is a much larger weir to negotiate. On the other hand, the egress is slightly better thanks to it being next to a main road with a public footpath on the left bank just under the bridge. There is a pub just upstream of the bridge (The Cross Foxes) and you may find some other parking options.
OTHER NOTES: Can be combined with the previous section for a good half day paddle and a less arduous put-in!
The portage, however, is horrible, partly because of slippery mud but mainly because the bank below the weir has been supported by gabions (wire baskets) joined together by twisted wire and quite capable of making a hole in boats and people if you get it wrong. Further downstream might be easier but the path has steps and sharp bends.
I phoned The Boat Inn the day before to confirm we could park. Anticipating it being busy for Sunday lunch, as it's now that sort of pub, we only left one car, parked in the overspill field, which is now semi-surfaced with reinforced gravel and reinforced grass (well, it hasn't grown yet so it's reinforced mud, but still much better than ordinary mud). As we landed (2:30pm) the main car park was indeed completely full (even in January), with a couple of cars in the overspill. By the time we'd shuttled vehicles from Llangollen, there were a few spaces and the bar wasn't too busy for us to have our 'repayment' drinks. We took out just level with the end of the main car park, and there's a gate into the overspill from the bank.
local farmers and bird watchers where friendly.
Ty Mawr Country Park Visitor's center pay and display parking cost £1.
The Boat Inn 01978 780666 in Erbistock is on river left. The preferred exit for paddlers is directly in front of the pub not at the corner of the car park.