NAME OF RIVER: Afon Garw
WATER LEVEL, ACCESS AND HAZARD UPDATES: Only on in spate. Hazards: Low bridges, Trees (over hanging and downed), Fences, Barbed wire strands, unusual objects tied across the narrow sections. Lots of ‘No Canoeing’ and “Private Fishing” signs along the banks.
WHERE IS IT? The Garw Valley (just North of Bridgend) Flowing into the River Ogmore.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in opposite the Brachycymmer pub in Pontyrhyl. Take out at either at Brynmenyn or run the Ogmore and use the take outs listed in the Ogmore Guide.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles. 7 if running the Ogmore after...
TIME NEEDED:. 1 hour
ACCESS HASSLES: A strongly protected angling river with a lot of reminders that you’re not welcome. Stealth advised.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It needs serious rain to be on. You’ll know if it’s on as it will be belting through.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Overhanging trees and bushes. Low bridges (x2), barbed wire, fences in addition to the barbed wire, downed trees and last, but not least, when the Garw is on, little or no eddies. If getting in higher than the above mentioned put in beware a staggering (shameful) amount of rubbish and household appliances!
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A Narrow spate stream which could be so good if only it wasn’t littered with hazards. After a good load of rain this stream comes alive and twists its way through the beautiful Garw Valley, through Bryngarw country park and joins the much bigger (and better Ogmore). If you really want to run the Garw then you should bear in mind that if it’s good to paddle then the flow is going to be very fast and you’re going to have to be on the ball. Many of the listed hazards suddenly appear and eddies are very few and far between. At the end of the Country Park there’s a twisting tiny gorge like section with a slot drop. After leaving the country park the river passes through Brynmenyn a small drop follows as you go under the road bridge and then the river flows into the Ogmore which comes in from river left.
Just before the Ogmore a nice boof landed me onto a door which in turn was on top of a fridge... I can’t decide it this is a hazard.. it was actually one of the highlights. Almost certainly long gone by now but sums up the Garw.
OTHER NOTES: At time of running it we noted lots of anti-canoeing notices, one of which was tied to a ladder which had been tied off across the river side on. Unless you absolutely have to paddle every river in Wales... my advice give the Garw a miss. Dangerous, laborious, too much hassle. Don’t get this river confused with the Nant Garw just North of Cardiff.
Final note if you opt to carry on down the Ogmore after running the Garw you will be above the bigger of the two weirs it's really boxed in and if the Garw is in spate the Ogmore will be high so caution required.
Contributed by Kayak-Bloke