Swansea River Tawe SUP
SUP the River Tawe right through the city of Swansea. This river is totally unique in that it has no current to speak of thanks to the Swansea barrage situated by the port.
≈ Quick Facts:
- River Name: River Tawe
- What is the distance: 2.5 miles each way.
- How long does it take: 3/4 hour each way.
- Shelter from wind: Any direction if light.
- Best Tide: Anytime – Not tidal
- Pay To Park: Yes
- Parking Distance: 30 seconds walk
- Do you pay to launch: No
- SUP Rental: No
- Wildlife: Hmm, not much
- Eat & Drink: Yes
- Toilets: Yes
- Hazards: None
≈ Location Guide:
Where to park and launch a SUP on the River Tawe
Head for the Swansea Yacht and Sub Aqua Club located at the Swansea Marina. There’s a large pay and display car park adjacent to this. Surprisingly the yacht club possess the only slipway access to the river anywhere in Swansea. It is a good 3 meter drop if you intend to drop your board over the railings anywhere else, not a good idea. There’s a big sign on the slipway stating that it is for YC members use only. I would recommend that you very nicely ask permission to launch at the yacht club, Tony was nice enough about it, he had no issue with me launching the SUP at all.
It’s dead easy to carry your board to the ramp from the car park, you literally carry it through a public right of way opening at the side of the YC and the slipway is just next to it. There is no current or tidal effect on this stretch due to the River Tawe Barrage basically stopping the flow dead, makes for a very chilled out SUP.
The only thing you will need the consider is the wind strength, a SW wind blows from the sea straight up the river for a fair way which can make it challenging on the return paddle.
What is there to see?
Once you launch the SUP you will first of all need to paddle towards the River Tawe Barrage (without this in place there would be no Marina!), The left hand side of the river is buoyed off so you can’t get through that way. Keep the boats and pontoons to your left. You will have to navigate your way around the outside of the entire marina and then turning left and head up to the stunning ‘ Swansea Sail’ Footbridge. One of the prettiest bridges I’ve paddled under.
Then SUP past a mix of Office blocks and the odd restaurant, followed by a big Sainsbury on your left. You will then SUP through the remains of an old bridge and then under a operational road bridge.
If you then look left you will see a WW2 flack gun sat on top of a war memorial sat by the riverbank, random!
Then shortly after you will go under a second road bridge. After here you will SUP past a new housing estate on your left followed by a collection of ramshackled industrial buildings (FOXHOLE), on your right it is basically lush trees running along ta muddy river bank with a path hidden from view, not a lot else.
On the first stretch it’s tricky to beach the paddleboard as you will have to step in to black oily mud up to your ankles to get to the grass verge, but if you continue on a bit further up the river you’ll see that the council has extensively laid out some kind of meshing over the top of the mud which is pretty sound to step on, so I would wait till you see this, it’s pretty obvious, it has a honeycomb pattern to it. One step on this stuff and then straight on to the grass, nice and easy.
Other places to disembark the river are numerous large flights of steps running down to the water edge. You will come across a string of random plumes of violent bubbles coming to the surface of the river. Apparently there’s nothing to worry about, this is just part of a scheme to improve the quality of the water by increasing the oxygen concentration, it’s called aeration.
Ahead of you growing ever larger with each stroke of the paddle is the futuristic Swansea City Football Stadium, it looks like a bright white robotic spider. After a few shallow meanders up the river you will see two old chimneys towering over the river Tawe.
Then SUP around the next bend, under another road bridge and you’ll see a new residential area on your right called the COPPER QUARTER. Then next SUP under 3 bridges close together, two footbridges and one road bridge. Once you have paddled under these you will be directly below Liberty Stadium on your left. You can see it better from the road though.
This is where I turn but if you want to milk it then you can continue on up the river another 1000 meters until you are brought to stop by a couple of weirs right across the river. You might meet the River Tawe Sightseeing boat on your paddle, they buzz up and down the river fully loaded with tourists, they are about the only boat that you’ll come across on this stretch. Make sure you give them a wave, they’re a friendly bunch!