(Bridge off A494 to Bontnewydd)


WHERE IS IT?: North Wales. Runs through Dolgellau into the Mawddach Estuary. OS Sheet 124. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in by a bridge just off the A494, a mile or so upstream of Rhydymain.

Take out at Bontnewydd (bridge).


TIME NEEDED: 20 min blast to 3 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Jealously guarded game fishing river so no welcome in this valley for paddlers. Efficiency and discretion recommended at the access and egress points.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Photos attached show low water conditions (April, no rain in the previous few days). Be aware that there are quite a few tributaries below the get-in, so don't judge the volume at the put-in alone.

GRADING: Grade 3 (4+ in flood?). Note that flood conditions may add a grade to the difficulty...see Wnion trip in Jerry Murland's WW diary for Oct 25th 1999.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: This is a tree lined river and quite narrow in places, so tree strainers are something to watch out for. This is especially so for the bottom gorge section. My guess is that eddies are few and difficult (trees) in high conditions.

There was a death on this river due to pinning some years ago. (Update - half way down before the gorged up section in low flows. In high flows this pin potential vanishes).

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: ICCC did this in April 1988 in low conditions, as shown in the photos.

Basically there are three sections:-

1) Top - easy at grade II (III)
2) Middle - more continuous grade III becoming grade IV. In particular there is an open gorge section which gets narrow and twisty.
3) Bottom - fast section through a walled-in gorge.

OTHER NOTES: This was a great little trip and first appeared in a guidebook in Terry Storry's 'Snowdonia WW, Sea and Surf' (1986!), so it is surprising that it isn't so well travelled as some of the others nearby.

The Mawddach and Eden are very close by. There is an easier section of the Wnion downstream.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River Wnion - Bridge off A494 to Bont Newydd -- Pete C.
2019 Mar 18 01:32:48 PM
Large, dangerous tree completely blocking the last rapid in the gorge at yesterday's low-medium levels. Not far upstream of the disused railway bridge. Had to climb up and out river right into a layby - emphatically recommend inspecting before paddling.
Re: River Wnion - Bridge off A494 to Bont Newydd -- Mainline
2015 Dec 18 12:02:49 AM
Paddled on 12 December on 2.6m, absolutely pumping! Tree was not easy to spot, only just made the last eddy above it on river left! It can be passed on far river right but you would not want to screw-up!
Re: River Wnion - Bridge off A494 to Bont Newydd -- Altech
2015 Dec 11 10:39:49 PM
Wnion Tree.


Just to let everyone know about a new tree on the Wnion that Aber Uni Canoe Club came across today. Just after the end of the first gorge proper, there is a large tree across most of the river coming in from river left. Its clearly visible in the river on a straight section. It can be sneaked with caution at medium flows (1.9) and above on hard river right, portaging around it would be awkward however. Finally its a tree which will need to be cut out for the problem to be solved, as its an entire tree in the river which isn't going anywhere, so I expect this will remain an issue for some time.
Re: River Wnion - Bridge off A494 to Bont Newydd -- Joshprosh
2015 Nov 01 07:23:03 PM
Wnion Report.

Just wanted to share a few things about the river near Dolgellau after paddling it this afternoon.

Access is an issue with this river and today a gent claiming to be the land owner, driving a Mitsubishi Shogun, approached me and told me I couldn't paddle, he threatened that if I did, my car would be vandalized. I parked elsewhere.

Also, I am aware that many know there is a van in the river and at present it is posing no real risk, just chillin in an eddy at the end of the gorge section. However, immediately after it is a rapid with a river wide tree blocking passage. This could prove dangerous in higher water (I paddled it in low flow). Portage was a tricky scramble up the right bank.

Please feel free to share this information or advise where else it may prove useful.

Many thanks and happy paddling.
Re: River Wnion - Bridge off A494 to Bont Newydd -- PMB
2014 Oct 18 02:58:53 PM
Per my post in January, there's still a large tree across the gorge at the bottom which can be manoeuvered around at medium flows. A couple of other trees to watch out for in the gorge, but nothing you can't paddle around on sight if you're cautious.

Also, the local angling club seems to have put up a 'No canoeing' sign by the bridge at the get-on. Not sure if this is new, but I saw some other boaters being told they couldn't paddle by locals who looked as if they might have been fishermen.
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