Afon Teifi

Access Officer: Gareth Bryant, Llandysul Paddlers Canoe Centre Tel 01559 362907

Map:

145 Cardigan and surrounding area

146 Lampeter and Llandovery

147 Elan Valley & Builth Wells

Grade:

Sections of II, III, IV and V

Length:

79 km

Access:

Cardigan to Tregaron roads

Notes:

One dangerous weir

Quality:

Sections of and

The Teifi is of one of the longest rivers found entirely in Wales. Its source is from the Teifi pools high up on a plateau of barren moorland known as the Elenydd. It is one of the finest areas of high-lying wild grasslands left in Britain, especially so for Wales as parts have escaped the ravages of the forestry people. Ravens, buzzards and kites may be found, in addition to the various rare bog plants. Theoretically, it should be possible to paddle the whole river from source to sea, though I haven't done this.

It is a delightful river, excellent for touring in Canadian canoes and kayaks alike, with some sections great for play-boating. It is also one of Wales' finest salmon rivers and, as such, is best avoided in fishing season unless prior arrangements have been made. Saying this, there is a long tidal section finishing in Cardigan, which really shouldn’t cause many confrontations.

Afon Teifi:
Pont Gogoyan to Lampeter

14 km grade I to II

Drive out of Lampeter on the A482, before turning off left on the B4343. Just before the quaint village of Llanddewi Brefi there is a sharp left hand turn that crosses the river at Pont Gogoyan. Access can be made just downstream of the bridges on river right SN643544.

The section down to Lampeter is a beautiful touring stretch with nothing harder than a few easy grade I or II rapids. Egress at SN581476 onto the main A482, via a public footpath, where the river sweeps next to the road just before town. The King's Head pub in town serves some of the best bar meals in West Wales.

Afon Teifi:
Lampeter to Maesycrugiau

17 km grade I

I haven’t done this section, but have had it described as a fine grade I touring stretch. However, it is important to note the one grade III at the egress/access point to the next section.

Afon Teifi:
Maesycrugiau to Newcastle Emlyn

25 km II to III (one III to IV); one weir - portage

Maesycrugiau can be reached from either the A475 or A485, but either route will probably require a road map to help. It is possible to park up in the village near the inn without causing too much disturbance to the villagers but this is not a good spot for mini-buses! There is a small church room nearer the bridge than the pub, but it would be impolite to park here without first asking. After walking down the road to the bridge a footpath can be seen bearing off right, which allows access above or below a grade III fall SN473411. This is Maesycrugiau Falls, a one-hit wonder which becomes easier in higher water.

From here to Llandysul the river weaves and meanders, with the occasional good surfing wave. In town the river picks up to give just under one kilometre of grade II to III water. This is better in low to medium flows and the last drop known, amongst other things, as the Cauldron, can become quite tricky. In higher water the section becomes somewhat washed out. Just by the bridge is Llandysul Canoe Club and Activity Centre.

About four kilometres below town the river passes under a railway bridge. A 100 metres further on is a right hand, left-hand swing of the river passing under the road bridge at Pont Allt y Cafen, SN386392. The weir immediately below the bridge is dangerous at medium to high flows, and has unfortunately already caused the death of a popular South Wales canoeist. It is best portaged on the right just before, or with great care, just after the bridge. The rapids below the bridge are excellent surfing territory, which are far better fun than this vicious weir above.

Some three kilometres further on are the classic grade III(+) Henllan Falls. It is as well to be aware of trees here, as I have seen one, in particular, cut and chained to maintain its position blocking off much of the rapid! There are one or two unfriendly people hereabouts!

The river eases off apart from the odd good surfing wave on its way down to the egress point. Get out a 100 metres or so above the Newcastle Emlyn salmon ladders into the convenient car park on river right. This is by the rugby grounds SN313409.

Afon Teifi:
Newcastle Emlyn to Cardigan

23 km II, one fall IV to V

A few hundred metres along the A475 from Newcastle Emlyn is a small turn off into a car park serving the local rugby grounds and playing fields. This offers excellent access onto the river at the above grid reference point. Just below are the Newcastle Emlyn salmon ladders. Awesome in major flood, they are usually safer to run on the right. The stoppers can be great fun for playing in or being played with. However, this needs to be assessed on the day. The chicken shoot far right offers an alternative line. From here on down to the main road bridge are some excellent surfing waves.

From here to Cenarth the river is flat. Cenarth Falls, an inspiration to many artists, is reached. They can be heard roaring and a rumbling a little way upstream. Many clubs come here, just to run the falls at medium to low water levels. Although reputedly runnable at any level, at certain flows the stopper on the main left-hand route looks decidedly unpleasant. A chicken shoot is available far right but choose your line carefully as, in places, the water falls into a V-shaped ledge. Some may wish to end the run here, and there are excellent egress amenities.

The section below is effectively flat but fast-moving and is particularly suited to families or those wanting a lazy afternoon paddle. Below Llechryd, the river enters a solemn gorge. This almost feels prehistoric as you wait for the rumble of mighty cataracts around the next bend. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending upon your viewpoint, these never come. Cilgerran Castle sits rather moodily on the left-hand bank as you drift by. This is well worth visiting with the children later on.

Below the old bridge in the picturesque town of Cardigan is a council pay-and-display car park that provides an admirable egress on the true right hand bank SN176460.