GUIDE TO THE AFON TWRCH
NAME OF RIVER: River Twrch.
WHERE IS IT?: Brecon Beacons, flowing near Ystradowen on the A4068. Not to be confused with various other 'Twrch's lurking around Wales.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: I'm afraid you have to use your legs for this one. Use OS Landranger map no. 160 to find GR 756126 on a narrow lane near Ystradowen and park up by the bridge over the river. Shoulder your boat and lug it along the path on river left upstream for a mile or so. Just after crossing the river by a footbridge, you reach some old chimneys and this is the put-in. There is some extreme paddling further upstream, but we haven't seen it as it involved more walking and anyway, we're scaredy-cats. Take out is NOT where you parked for the walk-in. It's the Inn on river right at GR 754117. Downstream of here the Twrch reaches the Tawe, via some big weirs...but we haven't paddled this.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: An hour and a half including the carry.
ACCESS HASSLES: The take-out Pub are friendly and even let us kip in their car-park once. Remember to ask before you park/ change/ moon in their car-park.
The WCA website says this in October 2002...'WCA has successfully negotiated an Access Agreement to sections of the River Tawe and its tributary the River Twrch with the Angling Association that owns the riparian rights. The Agreement Allows Canoeing on these two rivers during the closed fishing season between the 18th October and the 28th of February. There is no agreement for canoeing outside these dates, and there is no agreement for spate paddling outside theses dates. Please adhere to these provisions, as paddling outside the allotted dates will jeopardise the agreement.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs heavy rain too come into condition. If looks paddleable upstream of the bridge where you park for the walk-in, you're okay. If all rocks are covered, even better! We haven't done this in very high flows, so be careful.
GRADING: 3 with a bit of 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A hernia from the carry-in. Loose steep banks where you get in (seriously! We had a minor accident). The odd low tree.
Jim Stevens...'Paddled the Twrch Saturday 18 January. The Farmer on the river right has kindly felled half of the forest into the river above the gorge section. There is now a river wide tree across the second drop, the one above the boulder rapid with the house on the left hand bank. This is a definite portage! Due to the debris on the bank the portage is not easy.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This 'rocks' in high water and bears some similarity with the River Tryweryn (I thought so anyway). There are some nice surf waves/ stoppers at the put-in described. Below here is continuous Grade 3, loads of fun and much more steep and absorbing than it looks from the walk up. The only notable drops are towards the end, where the river disappears over a series of ledges with (surprise!) stoppers waiting below...grade 4. The last of these is good for playing, but has an amusing tendency to hang onto paddlers long after they've had enough...when the A4068 appears above on river right, start looking for the Inn where you take out.
OTHER NOTES: Anyone done the bits above or below?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Jim Stevens.