Afon Llugwy is one of the most frequently paddled rivers in North Wales. Much of this popularity comes from its close proximity to outdoor activity centres such as Plas y Brenin, but it is also because it has something to suit most levels of experience and skill. There are some extremely difficult and dangerous sections though, which most will choose to portage.
The Upper Llugwy section is normally started from Helyg at the eastern end of the Ogwen Valley. The river gives good sport (class IV) as it winds down the valley to Brown’s Falls (class V) in Capel Curig.
From Brown’s Falls to Pont Cyfyng the standard eases to class II to III with a harder section at Cobden’s Falls (class IV) and at Pont Cyfyng a ‘must-make-eddy’ and likely portage. The next section to Forestry Falls is a superb and absorbing class III.
Continuing down towards Betws y Coed you soon meet the impressive Swallow Falls; these have been run but will be a certain portage for the majority.
Beyond the falls there is a fine section of class III to IV before another obvious portage to pass some violent class VI white water leading to the Miners’ Bridge.
More amenable class IV to V white water follows, and then a steadier section leads down to Betws y Coed and an egress before the rarely attempted and undoubtedly dangerous Pont y Pair falls.