GUIDE TO THE AFON NEDD FECHAN
NAME OF RIVER: Nedd Fechan.
WHERE IS IT?: South Wales, upper Neath Valley. Flows into the Neath at Pontneddfechan.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Drive from Swansea up the A465 and turn off for Onllwyn (or something like that). Turn right at the traffic lights, then second left to Pont Nedd Fechan. Stop at the Angel Hotel (not for beers yet!) check the level at the bridge SN 901 076. There is a big rock in the current flow, basically it should be at least half way up this...if it isn't then go and do the Mellte or something else. This is the get out.
From here follow the road steeply up the hill and out on to the hills once over the cattle grid take the first left over another cattle grid and then steeply down to the river and a car park SN 908105. You can allegedly get in higher up but not sure where!
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Takes quite a while 3-4 hours maybe a bit less if you don't have any problems!
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: See the put-in description above.
GRADING: This description is for high water 4 (increasing to 3) bricks from the start of the bridge arch. Can be paddled at lower than described. It becomes less frantic with more defined rapids inbetween the main features described. Grade 4/5 very continuous at higher level.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Big waterfalls needing portage. Trees.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the car park, best to follow the footpath down to the first drop before getting in and have a look, mainly for trees in the pool below. As with all the way the main problem is the multitude of trees the numbers and ferocity of these change with each high water. This first drop runs easily through the middle or chicken it a bit bumpy down the left.
Not that far below is the first portage (20ft waterfall - Sgwd Ddwli). At this level it looks runnable but is notorious as an ankle breaker so best left well alone. You can now either get in below and paddle the 500m down to the next portage with one step rapid or just walk around the two.
The second portage (Lower Ddwli Falls) is definite as the water lands again from 20-25ft on a flat slab. Get in below this as close to the fall as you can enjoy the slide down to the next stepped drop (Horseshoe Falls), which is best on the right. At the exit of the pool here is a stopper, which at this level looked pretty sticky (so we walked round) but at lower levels is friendly enough for playing in.
A couple of drops follow which are fast and shallow on the left and slower and stickier on the right; we ran both lines.
Then after another 500m is the last drop, a diagonal left to right, which needs inspecting at this level. It had a tree in the left so run right. The rest of the river provides wave trains and small holes but nothing too bad, just fast and fun finishing in a narrow little gorge. At the entrance to the gorge in slightly lower water a diagonal weir can provide a sticky river wide stopper. Get out above the bridge by the angel pub, there are steps up the bank. Inspection the whole way is not too difficult as there is a foot path along the right bank the whole way.
Owen Hayward...'Paddled the first portage (Sgwd Ddwli) on the Nedd today (29/7/03) at low flood level (indicator rock at take out nearly covered). This went fine over the centre of the fall - bit of a boof and flattish landing=no broken ankles - bonus! In fact there seemed to be reasonable depth in the middle of the pool.'
It was about 1995 when I ran this I think and the Acrobat 270 had just arrived - an impressive involuntary cartwheel resulted on the second shelf, the final drop is only 2 ft but did hold a boat and swimmer (above the surface). Rescue is straight forward in the large pool. The run took the 5 of us about 4 hrs. Spent more time picking lines etc than in the boat. An excellent trip that really feels like an expedition.
Note: the mini gorge entered just prior to the get-out is also undercut, I swam in the eddy directly above the gorge and undercut wall; being tail end charlie I made the mistake of thinking my CORSICA (not a small boat) would fit in the remianing space and got trashed on the eddy line. Water quality good, loads of tree debris, potential for sumps above put-in at Pont-Melin Fach.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jago Snook, also Nik Williamson and Owen Hayward.