GUIDE TO THE AFON TYWI
(Llyn Brianne Dam to Junction Pool)
NAME OF RIVER: Tywi (Sounds like 'Towy').
WHERE IS IT: South Wales. Near Llandovery, West of the Brecon Beacons.
PUT INS/TAKE OUTS: Walk over the bridge from the top car park at Llyn Brianne Reservoir and put on to the lake itself or, walk the boats to the bottom of the slipway down the track from the lower car park.
Take out is at the first bridge and lay-by, next to the main road downstream. This is in the vicinity of Junction Pool GR773460.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 Hours from leaving the cars.
ACCESS HASSLES: Sliding the dam slipway is certainly not allowed. However, the whole area is so remote you would be unfortunate to be caught. Can't imagine anyone being concerned about kayaks on the main river.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Usually still goes a day or two after heavy rain. If the slide looks viable then there is probably enough water. It helps if water is also coming out of a concrete pipe thing at the bottom of the slide on river right. In low levels the river becomes less enjoyable as a lot of the drops become boulder chokes and there are just too many portages.
Andy Evans adds...(10/11/01) 'We struck it lucky at the weekend. NO water over the spillway but three gates were releasing from under the little building at the bottom of the dam. This gave enough water for a relaxed ferrying and manouvering low water run (I wouldn't want to do it any lower). Another indicator includes looking downstream from the lower car park. You can see the first rapids from here if there is enough water. We looked again on Sunday and it was very black down there.
GRADING: 4 (with one, 200 metre long, easily portaged, class 5+).
MAJOR HAZARDS / FALLS: The slipway takes more guts than skill but is best taken dead centre as airborne manoeuvres are common on hitting the bottom wave. The previously mentioned 5+ is ugly, but easily spotted as the river clearly steepens - also a doddle to portage as there is a footpath on river left.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Classic welsh paddling: a gradually steepening river, running through sheep scrub and deciduous woodland, through an isolated valley. Starts at class 3 and winds it's way up the difficulty scale until the confluence of two rivers (Junction Pool?) after which it is flat for a km until the take out.
Andy Evans adds...'The river breaks down into two distinct sections. The first section is easiest, followed by a flat section and two weirs. If you didn't like the first section then keep your eyes open for a footpath river left after the weirs which allows you to escape to the RSPB car park which sits conveniently between the two hills that take the river out of sight of the road. If you miss this takeout not to worry as the footpath James mentions is there for the rest of the section.'
OTHER NOTES: It can't go wrong.
If it's raining you might consider checking out the Doethie and the Upper Irfon. It is possible to drive over the top to the Irfon, however if it is at a good level you might find the fords at the top of the valley impassable. If you have a high water weekend then you'll need to head back down to Llandovery to get to the Irfon.
Fortunately, the increase in the seriousness is gradual. The weir is followed by a straight section of relatively flat river ended by a gradual right bend. As the gorge starts turning left, it provides a window of opportunity to get out on the left bank to inspect the river. Eventually, following some grade (IV ?) rapids, the left bend becomes really sharp (nearly right angle), which signals a point of no return.