The Mawddach is a good paddle along a very picturesque river surrounded by mountains on both sides and is quite popular with kayakers in the summer months. It does need some planning before hand a set of tide tables and an OS map is recommended as the channel twists around quite a bit. Best to allow 2 hours either side of high tide to complete. Can be done quicker than this if you are getting help from a spring tide on the ebb and flow. Be aware there are some sandbanks which can be difficult to avoid involving some short walks with boat in tow!
This normally quite a calm river, but waves can build up if a strong wind is blowing. You need to check the forecast and make a decision on the day before setting off. This becomes less of a problem the nearer to Penmaenpool you get. There is parking at Penmaenpool should you wish to make it a one way trip.
The George 3rd pub serves a nice meal and overlooks the river, it is next door to an RSPB bird sanctuary and a very old wooden toll bridge.
This is the trip for the annual Barmouth paddlefest when a lot of canoes and kayaks can be seen taking part.
How to get there:
For Barmouth just drive into the town dropping boats by the main slip in harbour then continuing around corner to a large pay and display car park.
Fairbourne is a small village on the opposite side of the Mawddach to Barmouth just off the A493. Turn off main road straight through the village as far as you can turning right at the end onto Penrhyn drive north and again go as far as you can until the tarmac runs out at a turning circle where you can see the slip.
Barmouth is a large town on the coast in Gwynedd so has pretty much everything you may want at start or finish.
Tidal water with a strong current at the harbour entrance and under the half mile long Victorian railway bridge that spans the river. Also watch out for sand banks at anything other than high tide. On spring tides the harbour entrance is best avoided.
Ins and Outs:
You can launch either from Barmouth harbour or a quieter spot is Fairbourne creek on the opposite side of the estuary where there is a small concrete slip (marked on map) dependant on which direction you approach from.
At the suggested turnaround point of Penmaenpool is the George 3rd pub and restaurant for refreshments or a good take out point if you don’t fancy the full 13 miles. There is also a grassed area just before the pub favoured by kayakers for a picnic.
Please note both slips are not easily accessed at low water. Trip is not recommended at low tide.
The River Mawddach is completely tidal for the entire length of this trip and subject to waves in certain wind directions but has breath taking scenery along entire route From Barmouth harbour to Penmaenpool approx. 6.5 miles each way.