7 top rafting experiences in Wales

Some paddlers come whitewater rafting for the adrenaline, others to immerse themselves in nature not water. Ashley Charlwood of the National White Water Centre selects the Welsh rafting experiences for both.

  • A natural river

    Group whitewater rafting on Tryweryn River, part of the National Whitewater Centre
    National White Water Rafting Centre, Afon Tryweryn, Snowdonia

    With about 9km of natural river, the National White Water Centre is the only commercially rafted stretch of water in the UK that compares to whitewater rafting worldwide. The Tryweryn river mixes the intensity of an Olympic-grade whitewater course and a journey through the National Park – it has the highest density of otters in North Wales. Plus it’s a beautiful river.

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  • Your first rapid

    Canolfan Tryweryn rapids
    White water rafting on Afon Tryweryn, Snowdonia

    A big rapid is intimidating the first time you hear it; you really sense the power of the river. You’ll help the guide position the approach, but won’t be able to see where you’re going. Then your boat suddenly accelerates and you’re into the rapid, ducking the spray and listening to commands from the guide. That’s a massive rush.

  • A journey to enjoy

    Two groups white water rafting on the River Dee near Llangollen
    River Dee, Llangollen by Phil Mill

    While the upper Tryweryn has five sections of rapids over 1.5km, here the River Dee rapids are less continuous, so there’s time to breathe between sections of whitewater – there are sections of grade 3-4, then 2-3 then another 3-4 section over 4km. In other words, time to enjoy the journey on a lovely river.

  • Welsh nature

    Trees over the Tryweryn River
    White water rafting on Afon Tryweryn, Snowdonia

     A lot of rafting is about not knowing what’s around the corner. You may see something unusual – I see otters when I’m the first on the Tryweryn – and usually dippers and yellow tits. And it’s also about being in the countryside. On natural rivers you’re under a canopy of trees, going through dappled sunlight into warm sunshine like something from Lord of the Rings.

  • A gentle adventure with nature

    River Teifi in full flow

    River Teifi, Carmarthenshire

     by k31thw

    Very much a journey through classic Carmarthenshire rural woodland – old forest and green rolling hills. River Teifi, the queen of rivers (it’s the longest river that rises and exits in Wales) has kingfishers, otters and leaping salmon and only three whitewater sections, so rafting here is a mix of being in nature and gentle adventure. A great family trip.

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  • A beautiful meandering paddle

    River Wye, near Erwood
    River Wye, near Erwood, Mid Wales

    The River Wye is a beautiful meandering paddle down through the Wye Valley that has inspired generations of poets. The whitewater section is dependant on high rainfalls, so it’s often placid: often barely moving water not whitewater.  So for me, this is about the journey; a new view around every corner as you float down towards Hay Bluff and the Brecon Beacons.

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  • A short sharp adventure

    Cardiff International White Water Centre
    Cardiff International White Water Centre, Cardiff Bay by CIWW

    The course at Cardiff International White Water is very much a short sharp adventure: a 250m concrete course that you go around a few times. So, it’s more of a rollercoaster-type experience than the racing car journey of river rafting. It’s great, though, if you want to discover the experience of being on Grade 4 whitewater – and in the city, too.

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