GUIDE TO THE RIVER WYE
(Llangurig to Rhayader)
NAME OF RIVER: Wye.
WHERE IS IT?:Mid Wales.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The traditional start for this is at Llangurig (908797) , however I often miss out the first section and access at a concrete bridge (922738) which is down a lane on the left of the A470 Rhyader to Llangurig road.
Take out in Rhayader...see description below.
APPROX LENGTH: 17km if you start at Llangurig, About half this distance from the concrete bridge.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: See http://www.mountainandwater.co.uk for more info.
Janet Annetts...'River Wye at the Rhayader get out on Nov 13th 2005.
Nature of incident: Incident with locals at get out in Rhayader. They are not happy with egress on river right, in particular due to undressing in public car park. There is a notice "No Canoeists" river right after the Falls. One local lady got very irrate about it all and asked why we didn't get out the other side.
Action taken or needed: Regular paddlers to the river suggested that a better get out is a public footpath on river left just beyond the falls. The path leads to the rugby club car park. This is more private and is accessible by a public footpath.'
Adrian Cooper (Oct 2005)...'In 2004 we got out at the bridge at Llanwrthwl having paddled from Llangurig. We were accosted, first by a man claiming to be the farm manager who was also responsible for the fishing. He accused us of trampling over salmon beds under the bridge (although he didn't see us get off) and asked us for our names and addresses. We told him we would only be prepared to divulge this to a police officer and one was duly called. We heard nothing more of it. Whilst we were loading up our boats, a lady from a nearby house came down and told us we were acting outside the access agreement and that we should access/egress at Newbridge. I don't think any of them said we should not be paddling the river although that might be a moot point.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is a great run when medium/ high - not recommended when low.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
Grubby (Oct 2005)...'On the 29/10/05 we ran this section in open boats and a couple of kayaks in lowish water. The river was clear of dodgy debris although the remains of the 'huge tree' on the 'recurculating eddy' rapid might still be a problem if the water was eight feet higher!':
Chris Fawcett (Feb 2004)...'The tree below "recirculating eddy rapid" (Chris Sladden refers to this rapid as "first class 3 on a sharp left hand bend, and has a boat snatching right hand eddy if you are reading from his guide book) mentioned by Spadge January 2003 is still there. We paddled river Sun February 1st 2004. Suggest best route to avoid ending up in right hand eddy and possibly against cushion wave is to run drop at angle of 45 degrees, this keeps you river left, and in the levels we did the river (medium) there is a line past the tree on river left. If in doubt have a look first egress river left.'
Greg (11/30/03)...'I have just got home from paddling the Llangurig-Rhyader section. In the Cwmcoed falls or Upper Railway rapid, there is an "interesting" stopper in a slot on river right. It is blocked by a tree in the stopper, and is not very noticeable until its too late (yes, we had a bit of an epic!) It looks like it may be there for a while (unless anyone is paddling with a bowsaw).'
Spadge...(January 2003) 'Enormous oak tree blocking entire river 20m below "recirculating eddy rapid" (First large rapid after Llangurig on a right/left S bend; used to be a tree in the eddy on right). The tree is out of sight until too late at high water. No way through. You could run at low water and get out on left, just don't swim! Will need more than a bow saw to remove this colossus. Inspect then portage!'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Put on below the bridge, a gentle start leads to small twisty rapids through little shoots and around boulders. The valley tightens and the river steepens a little as it runs through several boulder gardens and paddling is technical, left and right between the rocks. The unwary can pin here.
A rock garden leads to one rapid known as the Letterbox (river tightens considerably at a small but awkward drop. This needs thought to avoid rocks in mid-stream. It can be run through a narrow shoot river left or with a boof on river right. Easily portaged river right (easier still through someone's garden on river left!).
Trees line the banks as the river narrows into Glyn Gwy Gorge. This gorge is the best of the river - steep woodlined banks and large moss covered boulders add colour and character to this 200m long stretch. This is easily inspected river left. It is a series of shoots, twists and turns through boulders, small stoppers and surf waves in medium flow. In very high water this becomes a very squirelly section and though some rapids wash out wave trains form in others and the play potential is good.
After the gorge a river joins the Wye on the left. This is the Afon Marteg, a river renowned for its grade 5 gorge (Zoom) and poor access situation. After the Marteg the river steepens and quickens. There are two main rapids remaining before Rhayader.
The first (Gamallt falls) is a fast shoot over a drop where the river runs and corkscrews into the wall on river right. Running this from right to left will save bruises. There is a fast deep shoot below this with good play spots.
The second and bigger of these two rapids is called Cwmcoed falls this is a bigger drop run anywhere in medium water - river right in high water. It is just before the remains of an old railway bridge, the stantions of which are still intact and create some odd eddies in high water that have unseated their fair share of paddlers.
The remainder of the river down to Rhayader is grade 2 with small surf waves. You now pass a campsite on river left just upstream from the town. This is a good place to egress if you do not want to run the town falls (footpath just before campsite on left which leads up to the A470). There is a large eddy just before the town bridge (river left) which is a good position from which to run the entry rapid under the bridge (grade 3 but boily and confusing). The centre line under the bridge is a corkscrewing shoot into a stopper which can be quite grabby. Better to run through the left hand side of the bridge, clip the stopper on the left and into the eddy behind the large boulder. This section and the next can be scouted before the run from the bridge. In high water this section is a mass of white boily water - lovely!
The next section is the Town Falls. This can be run either through the salmon steps river left - a series of small but grabby little weirs (these disappear in v high water and are replaced with a river wide grade 4 stopper that joins up with the main drop) The alternative is to run the main fall drop on the right, this is very sticky in high water. It is also hard to see over the lip of this drop and the last time I did it I landed in a tree! Both sides of the river meet in a twisty, boily shoot and the river is run. Egress either immediately on right at the park or river left after 50m at footpath leading to the rugby club.
Also, consider heading downstream.
The nearby Claerwen is worth checking out if you are in the area.
Chris (July 2006) 'I am from Hereford Kayak Club, a while back we did this section of the Wye and took lots of photos, these can be found here.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mike Kelly, also Spadge, Chris Fawcett, Janet Annetts Adrian Cooper, Chris and Greg.
1) The consequences of cocking it up aren't worth it IMO.
2) If you made the recirculating eddy, getting out of it will be very difficult because the flow is currently feeding straight into the tree.