photo: Ray Wood
Tryweryn, Y Bala photo: Ray Wood

River Kayaking in North Wales

The water run-off from Snowdonia's hills, mountains and spongy moorland flows freely to mountain streams and rivers that wind their way through wide valleys, narrow gorges and tumbling ravines. Through forests and crags the rivers wend their way onward to the sea.

In all conditions except drought the rivers flow, offering every conceivable level of challenge you might desire. There are gentle estuary journeys to be discovered on the Afon Conwy from Tal y Cafn to the Castle in Conwy and the Mawddach from Penmaenpool all the way to Barmouth. The Afon Dwyryd from just below Llan Ffestiniog all the way to Borth y Gest is spectacular and passes the Italianate village of Portmeirion. Don’t get taken prisoner…

Grade 2/3 rapids can be found classically on the upper part of the Afon Llugwy, beginning at Plas y Brenin and for something more continuous and reliable The Afon Tryweryn from Llyn Celyn Dam down to the campsite. This is a controlled release river so check that it's running before heading over there!

For sustained difficult paddling the river Ogwen in full spate is a herculean Grade 4/5 challenge, intense throughout with only short sections of respite.

And for the seekers of somewhat more extreme challenges you’ll find thrills in the Fairy Glen section of the Afon Conwy, a narrow gorge with drops and for one of the most serious and exciting gorge adventures head to the lower part of the Afon Prysor near Maentwrog in the southern part of the National Park. Go take a look at the waterfalls near the Snowdon railway just out of Llanberis (Ed. then make your excuses and head for the pub).


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Top River Kayaking Venues in North Wales

Pick of the Pops

Family & Fun

  • Llugwy - one of the most popular rivers in North Wales. There are some extremely difficult and dangerous sections, but get in below Pont Cyfyng and you can enjoy 3k of continuous grade 2 to 3 water, watch out for the big finish at Forestry Falls.

photo: Ray Wood

50 Shades of Great

  • Ogwen - a tough trip for tough paddlers. Few places of rest and relief from Bethesda pretty much all the way to the sea. Really high flood conditions are way more out there!

photo: Karl Midlane

Out There

  • Upper Mawddach - for those that find the Ogwen in big water a bit on the easy side!

photo: Pete Catterall