Facts About the River Towy ( UK )

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At 75 miles long the River Towy ( Afon Tywi in Welsh ) is the longest river that flows wholly within the principality of Wales. The River Severn is actually the longest river in Wales but that also flows through England.

The river rises on the lower slopes of Crug Gynan in the Cambrian Mountains and flows south westerly towards it's 1,333 square mile basin that it shares with the rivers Teifi and Gwendraeth, at LlanSteffan on the Pendine Sands - famous for being the venue of the land speed record between 1924 - 1927 - at Carmarthen Bay, before eventually flowing out into the Irish Sea.

The river has numerous small tributaries with the largest of these being the Rivers Bran, Cothi, Doethie, Gwenlais, Gwilli and Sawdde.

The river passes through three Welsh towns along it's route, Llandeilo, Llandovery and Carmarthen.

Despite it's length the river is spannned by only 8 bridges, the oldest of which is the grade one listed Pont Dolauhirion situated north of the small town of Llandovery, a single arched, local, stone built bridge, designed by engineer Thomas Edwards in 1773.

Another interesting bridge across the Towy is the Llandeilo Railway Bridge, a grade II listed, lattice girder, truss bridge, built in 1852

The area along which the river flows is known as the Upper / Lower Towy Valley, areas of striking natural beauty with a myriad of small towns and villages that are steeped in local history.

Situated six miles from it's source in the Upper Towy Valley, is the Llyn Brianne Resevoir, built in 1972.

The resevoir which is fed by a clay core, rock dam is the highest in the U.K at 300 feet and measures 30 feet by 900 feet and holds 62 million tonnes of water.

Every day 1.5 million gallons of water are discharged from the dam into the resevoir by way of it's 300 foot high spillway which also generates a hydro electro plant. This daily discharge has become somewhat of a local tourist attraction as has the six mile road that surrounds the dam, that is used by hikers, bikers and motorists to take in the wild and rugged scenery of the surrounding area.

This fast flowing, spate river is charecterised by it's many tree lined, deep pools and rocky gorges which is home to some of Wales' best fishing, which houses a plentiful supply of Salmon and Sea Trout.

The river is also the site of the age old Welsh tradition of coracle fishing. A coracle is a small, oval shaped - resembles half a walnut shell - light weight, river boat made from a willow rod frame which is covered with animal skins. The coracle has a keel - less, flat bottom that is steered by way of a single arm method of propulsion, in order to leave the other arm free for fishing. After a days fishing the coracle fisherman, can carry both his lightweight craft and his catch, back home upon his back. 


                            Location of the River Towy in south, west Wales.

The river's sparsley populated route passes through the two market towns of Llandovery and Llandeilo, with their ancient castles and old churches to attract the visitor.

The river's route also passes near to the vacinity of The Dolaucothi Gold Mines and the ruins of the hauntingly beautiful, Tally Abbey and skirts the western periphery of the Brecon Beacons National Park before it finally arrives at it's most populated area, that of the market town and county town of Carmarthenshire, Carmarthen - hometown of the mythical King Arthur's, legendary wizard, Merlin - , which has a number of architecturally interesting sites for the visitor, which is located near the river's estuary at Carmarthen Bay.

Carmarthen Bay with it's strong tidal flow and treacherous mud banks also boasts a rocky coastline interspersed with long, sandy beaches, with the mouth of the estuary guarded by the imposing ruins of Castle Steffan.

The estuary, which is the discharge site of three rivers, is also partially sited within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The estuary is the site of the spiritual retreat of the holy island of Caldey Island which houses a Cistercian Monestary and an 18th century lighthouse and keepers cottage, all of which can be accessed by way of a local, Summertime ferry service.

For more information about the River Towy area, visit -carmarthenshire.gov.uk//llandeilo-and-towy-valley 



  Image courtesy of Rhyshuw1, wikimedia commons. 

The River Towy at Carmarthen, showing the King Morgan footbridge and the stone built Pont Lesneven.


For facts about other British rivers, visit - 

For England's longest river - facts-about-the-river-severn-uk

For Ireland's longest river -  facts-about-the-river-shannon-roi

For Scotland's longest river - facts-about-the-river-tay-uk

1 comment

Jerry Walch
Posted on Mar 29, 2011