GUIDE TO THE AFON RHONDDA FACH
NAME OF RIVER: Rhondda Fach ('little' Rhondda).
WHERE IS IT?: In the Rhondda valley, following the A4058 up the valley from Pontypridd. OS map 170, Vale of Glamorgan.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The put-in for the Rhondda Fach varies every time I paddle it. It depends on where we find. The highest up we have put on is at a small road bridge off the main road, sign posted for Stanleytown. A fence has to be jumped over and the boats slid down to the river. This makes for a fair paddle. Downstream of this there are a number of places to put on at the many bridges over the river.
APPROX LENGTH: Unknown.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This a great fun river in reasonable water levels, however in very high water levels it is potentially very dangerous due to debris and pipes.
The Rhondda rises and falls very, very fast, so if a winter storm is predicted then leave it alone. I've seen it rise 6 feet in an afternoon this winter (1999/2000).
GRADING: The river is fairly continuous at grade 2/3 (maybe higher in high water and potentially dangerous).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Pipes. Weir.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river is fairly continuous at grade 2/3 (maybe higher in high water and potentially dangerous), however there are a few sections to note on the river.
Firstly, not far from Stanleytown there is a low pipe across the river. This can be squeezed under but will cause problems in higher water. It can be seen from a distance but portaging can be a problem in high water (when it is potentially dangerous) so a put on lower down is advisable when the river is raging.
The next noticeable section is when a tunnel appears and no end can be seen. The water under here is very simple but can be quite unnerving as there is a drop at the end of the tunnel which echoes inside as you paddle through in darkness. The drop at the end is approximately 2 foot and is very straightforward. Beware of a shallow landing in low water.
Not long after this there is a pipe across the river which has to be portaged at low water. It can be paddled over in high water with a drop into a pool behind (if this is the intended route then inspection is essential for the right line to avoid debris etc).
The last noticeable section is a weir drop which has a stopper of varying strength depending on the water levels. (It is not necessarily worse in high water). It is very easy to be swept over, however it is possible to get through at all but insane water levels.
Just before the confluence is a low bridge. This can be paddled under in all but the highest of water levels. There is a very difficult portage if the water is too high as the river is canalised. After the bridge the River Rhondda Fawr is joined.
OTHER NOTES: The River Rhondda Fawr, carrying on downstream of here, is excellent.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Steve James...local paddler. I've paddled this tributary a number of times and the River Rhondda Fawr more times than I can remember.