Archive for February, 2011


South Wales- The Middle Tawe

After our blast down the Nant Clydach we headed over to the Swansea Valley to hop on the Middle Tawe from Pen-y-Cae to Abercraf. We were met with primo levels and I’ve heard this run just gets better and better at higher and higher water. It wasn’t all pleasantries however as a local angling club had installed a slightly offensive sign at the get in.


Photo: No canoeing

Kayakers are NOT liable to prosecution and our NGB, Canoe Wales, promotes open access to the rivers, while respecting the spawning seasons of course. I later found out that while we were on the water some other boaters had their tyres slashed in Abercraf.


Photo: Iain on the first slide


Photo: Iain on slide number 3

There are several slides at the beginning of this stretch and the 5 km of white water was pumping super fast. The scenery was quite amazing and with several tributaries running there were waterfalls aplenty.


Photo: Waterfall just before the ledge drop


Photo: Sam after the ledge drop


Photo: Sam on the rapid after the ledge drop

I wish I’d been wearing a helmet cam so I could show the amount of air we were getting off some of the wave trains- ladies and gentlemen fasten your seat belts please ;-) . We couldn’t justify driving all the way to Wales with such good levels for one run so Iain, Chris and I got a second run in in less than 30 minutes. Not bad- 3 river sections in one action packed day.


South Wales-A Taff Tributary

The rivers and tributaries of the South Wales valleys offer a host of entertaining runs to the whitewater aficionado but the key ingredient for a high-quality day on these rivers -i.e. rain- has been in short supply over the last few months.

Last Monday Metcheck informed me that there would be 41 mm falling in Swansea on Thursday and Friday. As I began planning an assault on the homeland rivers, I eagerly tracked the Pontneddfechan river level gauge daily to see if the aforementioned precipitation would actually materialise. Final check at 6 am on Saturday told me game on!


Photo: Chris C. at the get in.

Chris P. and I headed to the hills to meet up with Chris C., Sam and Iain at our first port of call- a Taff valley tributary  in the form of the Nant Clydach. This very attractive yet distinctly urban creek (complete with associated detritus) located between Pontypridd and Ynys-y-Bwl offers about 500 m of class 4 pool drop. Sharing an eddy with oil cans, discarded bikes, empty coke bottles, and other such flotsam and jetsam are unfortunately par for the course.


Photo: Chris P.  on the first drop

We arrived to spy extremely low flow conditions (or ELF to quote Mr Westgarth) but the river was still worth every paddlestroke. After a few bouldery bits the slot drop appeared. Chris C. hopped out to to inspect and decided to walk as it looked a bit low. I however thought that it would go and so I ran it.


Photo by Chris C. Me on the lead in to the slot

I knew I would get pushed left and anticipated that, but I what I didnt bargain for was a momentary pin. Coincidentally, a rather large tree branch that was apparently re-circualting in the drop decided to make an appearance over my back deck and left shoulder. I gave just a few paddle strokes and I was free of the pin and tree branch but after seeing that everyone else rather wisely opted for the portage.


Photo by Chris C. An out of focus me going through the slot


Photo: Chris and Sam inspect for wood on the next drop

A few more drops then the nice 12 foot slide


Photo: Iain on a small slide


Photo: Chris squared


Photo: Sam on the last fun rapid.

The Nant Clydach is a great warm-up blast for other rivers in the area and totally worth the 10 minute drive form my parents house. A bit more water would have been great but beggars most definitely can’t be choosers in the driest of winters.