GUIDE TO THE AFON DOETHIE

NAME OF RIVER: Afon Doethie.

WHERE IS IT?:The upper Tywi valley in Mid Wales. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: One feature is a 1 hour shuttle round a moor to what looks like a tiny stream-the shuttle could be 30 minutes if you had a 4 wheel drive and used the good but very steep track. The shuttle can be made Northwards via the side of the Lyn Brianne reservoir (30 miles) through to Tregaron, or by a slightly shorter but more complex route to the West through Ffarmers. You will need the OS maps!

Put in at GR738541, park by the bridge 100m down the goodish track where the tarmac road ends (signs to picnic site).

Take out at Junction Pool on the Tywi.

APPROX LENGTH: 10 km.

TIME NEEDED: 3-4 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs rain.

There are two gauges, one 100m upstream of the getout bridge (GR776471) and one 50 downstream. For a good run the gauges should read 8 or more on the lower scale and th

e river should be flowing swiftly at about bankful.

GRADING: 3 and 4 with portages.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Various blockages; trees, fences. Also two portaged falls.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A real adventure which makes the upper Dart seem suburban.

The first 2 km are technical, and the river is narrow. There are a few drops of around 2m. At 2km the river makes a sharp right hand turn, through a small tree and then flows down to a fence on a left hand bend. Take out here and portage on the left bank. Walk past the mini- gorge filled with stunted trees, cross one more fence near a collapsed concrete bridge, and walk on to the next fence which is at water level. This is about 0.75km in total. Don't be tempted to put in again until this third fence is reached, unless you like getting in and out again every few yards. After this there were no more obstructions in February 2003.

From here on the river gets going. It has some of the THE steepest grade II anywhere (falls at 20 m per km-- respectable by any standards), and you can rarely see more than 100m due to the gradient. There is a surprise round every corner, and the expectation of the two grade VI drops keeps you on your toes. One short grade 3/4 gorge is reached in 3 km or so, then look out for a low grey rock wall that seems to block the river-- the first grade VI drop. Here the river dog-legs right through a narrow channel and then left at right angles. The final slot is about 1m wide and has potential for trapping boats.

About 1km of grade 2 follows and then the river enters a wood. Here is the second grade VI section. There are three excellent drops, but the last one lines you up (with no getout eddies) for the final vertical drop which is 3-4m into a very narrow channel. Lots of violent water. Sending logs down this resulted in some spectacular mystery moves. Unfortunately there is a tree jammed 3m downstream (it used to be in the drop itself) and some of the logs surfaced underneath this! (See Photos.)

Another 2km or so brings you to a grade 4 gorge. The river drops away and swings left down a nice drop. There are some excellent fast sections and small drops below. Then its back to grade 2 for the final 3km to the getout.

All the steep sections are in bits of woodland (approach indicated by seeing tops of trees instead of trunks) on an otherwise moorland paddle. Joins a river called the Pysgotwr near the end and flows into junction pool, into which the upper Tywi also hurls itself (and any paddlers, bits of boat etc. that may be on it!). Take out at Junction Pool, or the bridge about 200m above above.

Superb rustic country pub at Rhandirmwyn, 3 km down the Tywi, does great BB. Also great bunkhouse near Llandovery run by Outdoorlite Ventures.

Pictures of the Doethie

OTHER NOTES: Recommended. At first I thought this was an eccentric paddle that not many would like, but since then it has received the seal of approval from several veterans for its diversity, scenery and constant action. Recommended, especially if you have a 4WD.

Superb rustic country pub at Rhandirmwyn, 3 km down the Tywi, does great BB.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Reg Morris. Guide rewritten and updated by Reg, Feb 2003.


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