GUIDE TO THE AFON EASTERN CLEDDAU
(Pont Hywel to Llangwm Ford)
NAME OF RIVER: Eastern Cleddau.
WHERE IS IT?: South West Wales. The water coming off the eastern Preseli hills flows down through this wonderful little glacial gorge on its way to join its sister river the Western Cleddau, before emptying into Milford Haven. Map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: On the A478, the road from Narberth to Cardigan, turn left opposite Glandy Cross petrol station. At the next T junction turn right, at the bottom of the hill you will find the put in at Pont Hywel bridge just above the small friendly weir. This is right next to the Slate Workshop. SN129274.
Take out at the ford at Llangwm, SN106224. There is enough room for 2 cars at most, a little way up this tiny back road in a layby. The farmer who lives right next to the ford is a great guy and likes a good chat. Bring your cars down to the ford to load your boats but be respectful and change somewhere else like Cafe Beca car park down the road from Glandy filling station.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The best levels for this run are .95 to 1.35 on the EA gauge at Canaston Bridge (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ho ... ionId=4085).
GRADING: The higher the level, the harder it gets and it reaches grade 4 in the gorge, but is usually a technical 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A shallow stream at first with fields on both sides brings you to a sharp corner with a deep pool, here the geography changes and you get hints of whats to come, as oak woodland and slabby moss covered banks usher you into the Gorge.
Not long and you get the first taste of grade 3 drops and boulder shoots, this is continuous and gets more technical as you go along with some tight turns around huge boulders and slabby rocks jutting out everywhere. You should be grinning by now if you like this sort of run...if not, a portage on the right bank might be best on some of the more technical rapids.
Before too long you come to a white metal footbridge high above you and slate quarry scree towers above on the left, you might miss this footbridge as you are still very much in the grip of the flow as you bounce down more of the same grade 3 drops and slots, now less technical and before long eases off to grade 2.
About a km or so after the white footbridge the river has started to carve out new paths for itself and splits into at least 3 different routes, take the major route on left but be careful as there are scrappy trees down in your way and will need a portage or two. After this, the river swells up again as it meets up with its runaway parts and the scenery is wild and beautiful as you paddle past steep old oak woodland on either side with a few caves that you probably won't see!
Some nice WW is still ahead of you with some bedrock slides and slots of grade 3 and a few standing waves here and there, it twists and turns as it heads on down to Rhydwylim. Just before the portage at Rhydwylim pipe road bridge, look out: there is a pine tree down across the river, so just portage here and walk along the bank to the bridge, about 50m or so.
The next stretch is about a mile or so of grade 2 and a little weir before you reach the ford at Llangwm. Get out on river left before the footbridge.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Wil Nickson.