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A Tale of Two Rivers
Fishing enthusiasts in Carmarthenshire proudly claim that this county is home to both the King and the Queen of Welsh rivers.
The majestic Tywi, which rises high in the Cambrian Mountains and drifts and loops confidently through the verdant valley, is widely regarded as the best sea trout, or sewin river in Europe. The Tywi is the route into the heart and soul of Carmarthenshire. In medieval times, castles were built along its course to command the area, later followed by market towns which grew up to serve the local farming communities.
The queenly Teifi, which defines Carmarthenshire’s northern border is secretive, shy and tucked away for most of its course among tangled, thickly wooded riverbanks and deep gorges. The Teifi is renowned for its salmon fishing and for its famous Teifi brown trout.
The river’s stately journey begins in the wild hills of north Llandovery, domain of the rare Red Kite. From the huge Llyn Brianne reservoir the infant river tumbles over giant boulders in a narrow gorge overlooked by Dinas Hill, where Twm Sion Cati, the Welsh Robin Hood hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen.
From Llandovery the river catches its breath, slows down and begins a long, lazy glide along the lovely Vale of Tywi. At Llandeilo it is crossed by what is reputedly the longest single-span stone bridge in Wales; Dryslwyn and Dinefwr castles are just a short way downstream.
By the time the river reaches Carmarthen it has matured into a wide watercourse. From here it becomes a tidal waterway, ebbing and flowing down a beautiful estuary to the sea. For the best views head for the charming Ferryside or Llansteffan on the headland opposite.
The Tywi is not called the King of Rivers for nothing. Anglers adore the Tywi for its superb sewin. Summer nights on the riverbank offer the ultimate Tywi experience. The sewin will have made their way up from the lower waters and are now spread throughout the river system with fresh fish arriving on the tides all the time.
Tall Tale... Most anglers have got a few tall tales to tell but how about this for a whopper. When fishing for salmon on the River Tywi in the summer of 1932, Alec Allen hooked something far bigger. A Royal Sturgeon nine feet two inches long, with a girth of 59 inches and weighing 388lbs. To this day it’s the biggest fish ever caught on line in Britain.
Canoeists love this river, especially the stretch at Llandysul where there’s a challenging slalom white-water course; it’s because of the way the river wriggles and winds in a narrow valley.
The entrancing Teifi is renowned for its salmon and sewin, with the waters yielding up to 36lbs of fish, but it is captivating also because of the beauty, variety and history it offers.
The river was quite literally the driving force of the Welsh woollen industry. Its sparkling waters were used to wash the wool and drive the waterwheels that powered the many mills along the riverbanks. A handful still remain, producing a distinctively patterned cloth for which Wales is famous.
The best place in which to delve into the Teifi’s textile legacy is at the National Woollen Museum at Drefach Felindre.
The incredibly picturesque Cenarth Falls was one of Wales’s first tourist attractions. Discovered by the Victorians, it is still one of the few places where you can see coracles at work. These tiny, one-man fishing craft resembling an upturned umbrella have been used in South-West Wales since Roman times.
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