How to photograph Afon Clywedog in North Wales: top tips and best locations
November 30, 2016
The Torrent Walk follows the fast-flowing Afon Clywedog (a tributary of the River Severn) through a narrow valley down a series of waterfalls. Although the waterfalls are a big draw at this location, the river flows through some mature woodland made up of oak, ash and beech, among others.
The Torrent Walk is not an immediately obvious location, and although the A470 passes by just a few hundred metres away, once in this hidden valley you will be accompanied by little more than the roar of water and the rustle of trees.
There are plenty of opportunities for creative images here. There are wide vistas along the river and plenty of scope for close-ups and micro landscapes too. Fans of Lee Filters Stoppers will be in their element, too.
There are two starting places for this walk, one at the top of the valley and one at the bottom. I prefer to walk up the valley so I am always looking into the waterfalls and the canopy of leaves rather than having to turn around all the time to take in the views. Parking is limited at both starting points.
The location is best photographed on a soft, grey, overcast day. Sunrise and sunset will not penetrate the valley floor, but you may get some direct evening light hitting the trees further up the slopes.
How to get to Afon Clywedog
To start at the bottom of the walk, turn off the A470 at the Little Chef and follow the road for about half a mile. As you cross the river turn right and head up a steep hill. There is off-road parking after about 20 metres for a few cars. Walk down the hill, cross the river and pass through a small gate on your left to start your walk.
To start at the top of the walk, turn off the A470 towards Brithdir on the B4416. After about a quarter of a mile (just before the school) there is enough space for four cars in a lay-by on your left. Walk back along the road for about 50 metres and there is a gateway on the right. Follow the path down and you will come to a wooden bridge. From here the route is obvious.
Starting from either end of the walk you will soon be greeted by water, boulders and a canopy of colour. Care should be taken though, as the boulders can be slippery and the water fast-flowing in places.
Best time to visit Afon Clywedog
The Torrent Walk is a good year-round location, although it can be a little bleak in winter. But it really comes alive in autumn. At this time of the year the scene is full of red, yellow and orange foliage, and the boulders in the river are strewn with leaves.
Food and lodging
The nearest place to get a hot meal is the rather dour Little Chef next to the petrol station on the A470 just outside Dolgellau. Not great, but it does the job. For something with more character try the Cross Foxes on the junction of the A470 and A487. There are a few hotels in Dolgellau and the area is well catered for with B&Bs.
Packing 24-70mm and 70-200mm (full frame) zooms will allow you to cover most eventualities and shoot from many vantage points. A macro lens is useful for detail shots, of which there are plenty.
Be sure to carry a tripod and cable release, and leave room in your kit bag for a polariser, soft grads and a few Lee Filters Stopper filters. These are great for blurring water and leaves.
Mobile reception can be non-existent, so carry a torch and whistle for emergencies. This is walking-boot territory rather than wellies. Wet-weather gear, a flask and snacks are also worth packing.
Jeremy Walker is an award-winning photographer specialising in high-quality landscape and location images. He frequently works for advertising, design and corporate clients. To find out more visit www.jeremywalker.co.uk