GUIDE TO THE NANT CLYDACH
NAME OF RIVER: Nant Clydach.
WHERE IS IT?: The Nant Clydach is a small stream that is a tributary of the River Taff. It joins the Taff just outside Pontypridd and can only be paddled when there is a lot of water around. The section described is only short but it can apparently be paddled much further up.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put-on: From Pontyprdd take the B4273 which runs along side the River Taff. When Glyncoch is reached there is a bend 90 degrees to the left with a right turn on it. If you want to inspect the last section before you get on then take this turning, if not then carry on and turn right at the next turning over a bridge. Turn left after the bridge and park here. Close to the bridge is a gap in the fence which leads down to a path that follows the river. Turn right up this path and put on approximately 100 meters or so up. However, to inspect walk both ways. The description starts at the first double drop.
TAKE OUT: On the drive up, not far from Pontypridd, is a small right turn over the river Taff. Don't take this but on your left just after it is a small carpark. The locals living here have been very friendly to us over the years, as there can be paddlers parking outside their house a couple of times a week so please don't upset them. Opposite the car park the river can be scrambled down to.
APPROX LENGTH: 1.5 km.
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, but it is a good idea to get changed before hand so as not to upset the locals.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs heavy rain.
GRADING: Grade 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Blockages possible, see below. Trees. Debris.
Matt Creed...'Low water yesterday (15/02/06). The rocks nearest the banks (which are flat and slippy!) were well uncovered. This level the grade is easy 4 with less severe consequences of capsizing or blowing a line. There is a lot of debris in this river, while inspecting I climbed down to have a look in the slot and removed a 2.5 meter length of sharp scaffolding pole that almost certainly would have caused us some mischief if we hadn't looked. INSPECT THE WHOLE SECTION. There are numerous metal barrels, bikes and other nasty debris just waiting to snag you. Swimming is highly discouraged, rolling to be avoided. There is a tree 2 drops above the slot drop which is awkward to pass even in high water and would be a very nasty place to get trapped. The old railway bridge you pass under just above the rock slide at the end has a huge strainer on it, in high flows (November 2005) this looked like an exceptionally nasy place to end up. Hug river left and take the left tunnel under the bridge.
THE SLOT: This is one of those high luck low skill features. BE AWARE! Make sure you are signalled through, our group had two people pinned in here breifly as the last man didn't check the first paddler was through. A pin upside down could be quite distressing, putting saftey on here would be awkward, the water pushes into the left wall very strongly and if you catch the nose of your boat the stern will easly pin against the opposite wall.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This section consists of a tight grade 4 gorge followed by a grade 2 section with a final grade 3 or 4 (depending on water) section near the confluence with the Taff.
It is approximately 1.5km long (depending on how high you get on) and should take about 30 minutes, unless rescue has to be set up. Allow time to inspect the WHOLE gorge before paddling to ensure there are no trees or debris jammed, as there is only one way down once you're committed. It is a good stream for locals or anyone passing through when the water is high.
The first drop is stepped with a fairly large plunge pool. Have a look on the way up to pick your line. It is important that you are prepared for the next section. There is a small diagonal drop which is simple enough, but directly after this is a tight slot that is only just wide enough for a kayak. Be prepared, because it would be easy to leave your paddles at the top while you drop down the slot.
Shortly after this is another drop with a large undercut wall on the left that the water pushes into.
At the next bridge is a small vertical drop. There was a tree jammed just after this last time I looked, but it was possible to get round it.
At the next bridge is the most notable section. It is a steep, shallow section with a drop half way down. The landing for this can be shallow and the whole section is a bit messy (inspect). This is the end of the gorge. Carry on where the water eases of to grade 2. At the next bridge is the last notable section. Inspection is possible on the right if it wasn't done on the drive up. The left hand shoot looks the most fun, however there is metal work and concrete debris in it that looks nasty.
After the confluence with the Taff carry on for a further 0.5km or so until a bridge comes into site. The Taff has to be high if the Nant Clydach is possible which makes the section at the get out a lot of fun. It is advisable to inspect to pick your line, as there are many options. There is a great slot drop almost central, or a drop with a meaty stopper (in high water) on the left. After here are some waves to play on. To get out a scramble is required up the left hand bank to the road.
OTHER NOTES: It is only short but is worth doing if passing. I'm trying to get hold of some photos of the drop on the Taff at the get out in high water, so long as my mate can find them. Unfortunately I don't have any of the gorge itself, next time the water comes up I'll get some.
Not to be confused with the Lower Clydach River.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Steve James...local paddler. I have to give credit to Steve Bowens and Richard Jenkinson for having more bottle than me! Also, Matt Creed.
There's also a further section with a cool tunnel above this section, described in the Welsh guidebooks, but it's been a good few years since I've done it so can't describe it that well.