GUIDE TO THE RIVER WNION
(Bridge off A494 to Bontnewydd)
NAME OF RIVER: Wnion.
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).
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.
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.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Benson.
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.
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.
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.