GUIDE TO THE RIVER TAFF
(Quaker's Yard to Trefforest)
NAME OF RIVER: Taff.
WHERE IS IT?: South Wales, north of Cardiff.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in just inside the residential caravan park (GR 096964) on river right, just below a Grade 5 slot.
Take out either above or below Abercynon weir on river left (GR 088952) for a short trip, or river right above the first Trefforest weir (GR 079897). River right (GR 077911) just after the 'Graveyard' rapid under the bridge off the B4273 is yet another alternative put-in or take-out.
Hywel adds (June 2005)...The access point just inside the caravan has been lost as they've erected a substantial fence (and it looks as if a guardhouse is being build at the site entrance). Currently, access can still be gained at 094963, i.e. go round the the back of the road that leads to the caravan site, following the sign to the Taff Trail. A lane there leads to a footbridge and there is a way to the river to the right, i.e. downstream side. Unfortunately, this access point is a couple of hundred yarrds downstream from the original access and so downstream of the nice little Grade 2 rapid. You can struggle on to the river upstream of the original access point but that leads you with a slippery portage river left of the Grade 5 slot - at low water levels - and probably no portage route at all in high water.
APPROX LENGTH: 10 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hrs 30 min.
ACCESS HASSLES: No official agreement but no apparent problems.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: A measuring weir on river right above Abercynon weir can be viewed from the Taff Trail to the east of the river under the A470. The river is just scrapeable at about 4 (on the lower part of the scale). 4 on the top part of the scale is approaching over the banks and would represent serious spate. At the put-in it is harder to judge. High water is easy to judge: the river will be brown.
GRADING: Mostly 2, the Graveyard rapid is the only bit of Grade 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Urban waste: shopping trolleys, bikes, cars.
The first weir at Quaker's Yard may appear to have a runnable slot extreme river left. This indeed used to be OK but a chunk of the masonry to the left of the weir has fallen in and is a serious hazard, often holding shopping trolleys to make even more hazardous (see pic). Most of the rest of the weir has a shallow landing, so best portage river left.
Abercynon weir (see pic) may usually be shot in the centre in low/medium flow but in high water or spate would very dangerous. Portage river left (note: may not be possible in spate. Check on the way to the put-in).
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Just above the put-in, a massive tree has been stuck in a slot by its roots for the last couple of years. If it is not there, look out below because when it shifts it is bound to cause a hazard somewhere else.
From the put-in there is a section of Grade 2 rapids for a couple of hundred yards, including after about 30 yards a little stopper which provides a warm up spot. After 10 minutes or so, Quaker's Yard weir is reached (see hazard section above). Break out immediately above the weir on river left to portage. A longer stretch of paddling brings you to Abercynon weir. This usually has a couple of waves at the bottom for surfing. Thereafter follows a very long paddle down to the Graveyard rapid, just before the first bridge as you come to Pontypridd. The long paddle includes many Grade 2 rapid sections and some usually insignificant broken weirs. Past the confluence with Afon Cynon there is sometimes an almost river wide stopper which you may fancy side-surfing. Take care: it is formed by a pipeline and can be extremely sticky.
The Graveyard rapid is normally best taken extreme river left. Scrape over a small ledge and stop just short of the main drop to check for shopping trolleys etc and check the route: usually keeping left to start and then cutting to the right down under the bridge. In massive water, a large diagonal stopper forms on the left. In such water, there may be other routes down, garbage dependent.
There are a couple more broken weirs offering surfing opportunities alongside Pontypridd once under the old bridge, before the confluence with the Rhondda.
Make sure you get out before the final weir when you reach Trefforest. Sladden has it down as lethal in his "Welsh Rivers" book.
OTHER NOTES: Despite the urban waste, this stretch does have redeeming features. Above the confluence with the Cynon, the water seems quite clean these days (much better than the Rhondda), and kingfishers can be be spotted. Herons seem common.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Hywel, Dragon Paddlers Canoe Club, Cardiff - www.dragonpaddlers.org.uk. Cysylltiadau canwio ar y we. Also Mark Davies.