GUIDE TO THE RIVER VYRNWY
(Lake Vyrnwy Dam to Pont Llogel)
NAME OF RIVER: Vyrnwy.
WHERE IS IT?: Mid Wales.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start at Lake Vyrnwy dam, details below. Finish at Pont Llogel (GR032154) Public car park on river left by bridge. Alternatively, carry on downstream on the next section of the river.
APPROX LENGTH: Approx 7.5 km.
TIME NEEDED: This section (dam to Pont Llogel) takes about 2 hours. We did it in 1:15 but weren't hanging about.
ACCESS HASSLES: No agreement as known, but doesn't seem to be any disagreement either. From what I hear, the locals are fairly pro-canoeing so please use the public car parks and be discreet when changing.
Ian Garlick (October 2002)...'Seems to be an issue with access, 1.5 km from Pont Llogel. On 3/10/2002 we found there is a two strand barbed wire fence across the river approx 1.5 km above Pont Llogel. The river is obviously fenced off by the landowner upstream of the road bridge at GR 017157, OS sheet 125. Egress was to walk/ paddle 1 km back upstream to where river is close to road.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The river is dam release. See below for more details.
GRADING: Grade 2+ with a Grade 3 rapid. Would be harder in high water levels.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weir at the put-in, see below.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Ran the Vyrnwy this weekend (late Nov' 99) from the Dam to the end of the gorge. There is a stopper on the weir at the put in, BUT, the weir is an anti-scour. Although it is great to play on at normal levels, I would caution anybody going near it when water is spilling over the sides of the weir. I ran it at 5 cumecs and when/ if you flip it will hold you (still in your boat) against the concrete block, upside down. It's not a major problem as swimming will get you clear or you can do as I did and push off the block to roll back up (looks good as well, provided your paddle is not then pinned against the block under your boat !!).
Robert McKee adds... 'the Vyrnwy has a storming stopper just below the dam. Access it by driving across the dam and then down to the lower car park. It is easy to get to from here. Just cross the stile and you are there. It doesn't look like much but it is really good. Huge eddies either side. The hole itself gives a real blast of a surf, it feels really fast and is flat spin city. Spins at both ends of the wave are possible. We've had up to four boats at a time in the hole (including an Ocoee), all blasting and spinning. Note it looks shallow; however it is possible to window shade (capsize violently upstream) easily in the hole. Appears to be good at many levels from just over the spill on the dam to full release.'
We ran the rest of the river and it runs at a nice grade 2+ with one notable rapid that was a good 3 and would be 4 in high water. I think 5 cumecs is the normal release level and higher water would mean it is either raining heavily or has been recently in which case you would probably want to do something else anyway. It is well worth carrying on downstream below Pont Logel.
OTHER NOTES: Andrew Rudge......'I did upper section from dam on 25/11/00. Tree fallen across river between the grade III/IV fall and Cownwy confluence. Portage in plenty of time at current levels. Also there is a possible strainer on the grade III steps lower down. Can be spotted from the road.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Wilson, Robert Rudge, Ian Garlick and Robert McKee.