Snowy Towy

Once again, five intrepid paddlers set off for our latest ‘harder’ white water trip on Sunday 11 December. Our trip on the Afon Tywi (River Towy) wasn’t intended to be particularly ‘hard’, but was quite a long stretch (10 miles) from Junction Pool (below Llynne Brianne) to Dolauhirion (upstream of Llandovery) on a river that Steve hadn’t paddled for years (and none of the other group members had paddled before) so wasn’t one for white water novices.

As it happened, there was more white on the ground than the river, as we awoke to find an inch of snow had fallen – which did make the drive to the get-in quite interesting along an ungritted single-track lane alongside a river gorge: it’s at times like this that Steve’s 4×4 with mud-and-snow tyres and roof bars big enough for 6 boats definitely comes into its own!

We actually put-on to the river Doethie (or Pysgotwr Fach – the OS map isn’t entirely clear) just above junction pool, where the Tywi joins after its 3km, grade 5 descent from the dam – but then had to immediately get out again to portage two tight slot-drops to access the pool itself. Steve didn’t recall having to walk here on previous occasions, but then the river was exceptionally low today so perhaps this hadn’t been necessary then (or perhaps it was just Steve’s memory playing up!). We were then soon on our way, initially scraping over rocks in the shallow river – Steve finding the going a little trickier in his 16ft canoe than the others in their 8ft kayaks – until more water emerging from a new turbine hall swelled the river to provide some gentle grade 2 rapids all the way to Rhandirmywn.

Shortly after the second Rhandirmyn bridge we encountered the first grade 3 drop which, after a brief bank inspection, proved to be a straightforward run with a shallow entry to a bouncy line on the far left and led into a short but scenic gorge followed soon after by a simple grade 2+ drop around a rock island. Then more enjoyable grade 2 rapids and more delightful gorge sections – where lunch afforded the opportunity to play on a surf wave, take some photos and either catch some surf (Dave & Steve), take a swim (Chris), practise your roll (Pete) or just-about-manage-to-do-neither (Sam C)!

More gentle rapids – and a couple of river-wide trees that we had to portage – led past two more bridges to the final grade 3 drop at Dolauhirion, a mean-looking slot on river-left which the kayakers negotiated with ease while Steve lined his canoe down from the bank – just as the sun was starting to set! All agreed it had been a great day with some great paddling on a river that we might not leave it quite so long to visit again.

Trip information:

  • 11 Dec 2022, Afon Tywi Junction Pool to Dolauhirion, 16km
  • Low water (0.51m on Dolauhirion gauge)
  • 5 paddlers: Chris, Dave, Pete, Sam C (kayaks), Steve (canoe)
  • 1 swim (Chris), 1 roll (Pete)

This was the first trip for ‘2023’ (being after the 2022 AGM) – so here’s the first outing for our new statistics table (let us know if you think we should include anything else!

PaddlerNo of tripsNo of SwimsNo of Rolls
Sam C100
Dave showing how to do it…
…and Chris showing how NOT to do it!

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