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This is a guide to visiting the Brecon Beacons waterfalls in South Wales.
The Brecon Beacons is a National Park in South Wales which was established in 1957. The park covers 519 square miles and consists of four main areas – The Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr, The Central Beacons and The Black Mountains. (Yes Black Mountain and Black Mountains – very confusing!)
The Brecon Beacons comprises mostly of grassy moorland, interspersed with forestry plantations. The park is known for it’s remote reservoirs, caves, flat-topped peaks and waterfalls.
Given it’s geology, the park is great place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as cycling, rock climbing, horse riding, caving and hiking. If the weather isn’t great, as it often can be in Wales, then the waterfalls in Brecon Beacons National Park provide a great low-level option.
One section of the park in the Vale of Neath is known as Waterfall Country. Waterfall Country is part of Fforest Fawr, which is a UNESCO Geopark, and as the name suggests has an abundance of waterfalls to explore.
Exploring the Brecon Beacons waterfalls
In this guide I outline five great walks on which to enjoy the beautiful Brecon Beacons waterfalls. These walks are great places to stay cool on hot days and offer protection from the elements on stormy days. Enjoy their thunderous power and get lost in the legends that surround them.
Top Tip: Two words that are useful to know in Welsh before exploring these walks are Sgwd and Afon. Sgwd means waterfall and afon means river.
If you’re interested in discovering the best hill walks in the Brecon Beacons, have a look at this post!
Four Falls Trail
- Distance:8.8km round trip
- Starting Point: Cwm Porth car park
- Time: 5 hours
The four falls trail sits right in the heart of Waterfall Country and is one of the most popular waterfall walks in the Brecon Beacons.
From the car park in Cwm Porth there is a well marked trail that will guide you towards Sgwd-yr-Eira. Along the way there are side trails that lead to several other waterfalls along the River Melt. These waterfalls are Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn and Sgwd y Pannwr.
This marked trail is suitable for families. The trail itself is mostly flat but the sections leading down to the waterfalls themselves are steep and often muddy.
Whilst all the waterfalls on this trail are beautiful, the climax of the walk is Swyd-yr-Eira or snow waterfall, as it translates. The big attraction of this falls is the ability to easily walk along the rocks behind the raging waterfall.
Be warned the rocks are wet and slippery and you are likely to get wet from the spray!
With more time available, explore the largest cave entrance in Wales at nearby Porth yr Ogof caves.
- Distance: 800m round trip
- Starting Point: Dinas Rock car park
- Time: 30 minutes
A short walk from the car park follows through the wooded gorge to the Sgydau Sychryd cascades. This straightforward trail is accessible for robust buggies and wheelchairs and is the easiest waterfall walk in the Brecon Beacons.
On the other side of the river be sure to take a look at the huge Bwa Maen rock. This rock buttress is an impressive folded arch of Carboniferous Limestone caused millions of years ago by colliding continents.
- Distance: 2km round trip
- Starting Point: Upper Blaen-y-Glyn car park
- Time: 1 – 2 hours
Blaen-y-Glyn is located in the heart of the Central Brecon Beacons. This is where you can find the highest peak in Southern Britain, Pen y Fan. To discover different options for hiking Pen y Fan, take a look at this post.
From the upper Blaen-y-Glyn car park, follow the well marked trail down into the forestry towards lower Blaen-y-Glyn. Enjoy the woodland path as it leads you towards the River Caerfanell, where upon you can enjoy views of several beautiful waterfalls. The biggest of the falls is known as Caerfanell falls.
Once back at the car park, walk towards the exit to view the small falls you pass when driving in. This falls is on the Nant Bwrefwr river which is a tributary of the Caerfanell.
Blaen-y-Glyn is located near the Brecon Mountain Railway, which offers narrow gauge steam train rides. To read more about this and other things to do in Merthyr Tydfil, read this post.
You can view aerial footage of the waterfalls at Blaen-y-Glyn in this video. (Skip to 30 seconds)
- Distance: 1.5 km round trip
- Starting Point: National Trust car park near Coelgren
- Time: 1 hour
Henryd falls is the biggest waterfall in South Wales at 27m tall. You may recognise this waterfall as Batcave from the film The Dark Knight Rises.
From the car park it’s just a short 700m walk down a fairly steep path to reach the falls. This waterfall is most spectacular after heavy rain. It is possible to walk behind the falls but it isn’t recommended, due to falling rocks.
- Distance: 7km round trip not including secret falls.
- Starting Point: Park near Angel Inn in Pontneddfechan village
- Time: 2 – 4 hours
From the village walk along Afon Pyrddin passing two falls before crossing a bridge to walk along right hand side of river. Shortly after crossing the river you will reach Sgwd Gwladus (Lady’s Fall) which, if you’re prepared to get your feet wet, you can walk behind via precariously placed stepping stones.
There is a secret waterfall, Sgwd Einion Gam, which can be accessed from this point, but his is not an official trail! From Sgwd Gwladus, climb up to the right hand side to a meadow above the falls. Initially there is a well- trodden trail to follow but this soon gives way to river crossings and bush-whacking!
Be warned, this trail crosses the river several times and skirts along exposed edges, so it’s not for the faint hearted. Attempt this path at your own risk. Wellies are required or if water levels are high be prepared to get your feet wet! Do not attempt this after heavy rain.
The Legend of Gwladus and Einion
The most beautiful daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog, was Princess Gwladus. Gwladus fell in love with a peasant called Einion but her father wouldn’t allow the marriage. Distraught at the prospect of living without her true love, Gwladus jumped into the icy cold river and was swept away. In her wake a beautiful waterfall formed. Einion followed her to river but was too late. Einion’s heart was broken and in his grief, he too threw himself into the river. The ground shook and a second waterfall was formed. Source.
Alternatively, for the official, family-friendly option, from Sgwd Gwladus return to the bridge and turn left. Follow the Nedd Fechan river towards Pont Melin-Fach to see Sgwd-y-Bedol, Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf.
Then retrace your route to Pontneddfechan to finish.
Summary of waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons
The Brecon Beacons has an incredible choice of waterfalls to explore and in this guide I have outlined five of the best options. There are walking options for families as well as hikes for the more adventurous.
Be sure to check the weather before you leave and pack accordingly!
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