GUIDE TO THE RIVER USK
(Talybont to Llangynidr)
NAME OF RIVER: Usk.
WHERE IS IT?: Flowing through a valley between the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, past Abergavenny.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: You could start on the easier bit upstream, or put in at the bridge crossing the river at GR 122233 OS map 160, near Talybont on Usk. Take out downstream of the bridge in the centre of Llangynidr, river left.
APPROX LENGTH: 4 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1.5 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: There is an access agreement, some details can be found at http://www.welsh-canoeing.org.uk/access/rights_and_agreements.htm#usk. Also see http://www.mountainandwater.co.uk for more info.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: We paddled this in low water. It is almost always paddleable in winter.
GRADING: Mostly Grade 1 then a stretch of 3 at the end. This final rapid is apparently harder in high water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: None.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A pleasant but unexciting trip. The first few miles are bordering on completely flat, but there are plenty of pretty views and sheep to admire along the banks.
Eventually you reach Mill Falls, a long rapid where a series of natural/ manmade weirs and rocky reefs cross the river. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and surf along this stretch. It should be possible to portage this rapid on river right, let us know if you think otherwise. After this rapid, the river eases again and shortly after you arrive at the take-out bridge.
OTHER NOTES: We arrived at this river in search of whitewater thrills, and were disappointed. However, it makes a great stretch to learn moving water skills and it really is a nice valley...another stretch of the Usk which offers more continuous but still easy rapids is that from Sennybridge to Nant Bran Bridgerecommended.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.
In high water this entire run is a hoot, with big water G2-3, with wave trains well over head high, and maybe Mill Falls pushing a 4. There's far more to do on this entire section, even at low levels, than on the Sennybridge and Brecon sections of the river.