Brecon Beacons 4 waterfalls walk (near Ystradfellte)
Any one of these waterfalls would be worth a visit, but this walk takes in all four - and a lot else.
|Time:||1 hrs 52 mins|
|OS map:||Explorer sheet OL12|
|Total Ascent:||810 ft|
|Total Descent:||810 ft|
- A large cave
- Riverside walks
- Four impressive waterfalls
- A waterfall with a path behind the cascade
- Woodland walks
In an area of stunning scenery this walk has no difficulty in competing. People travel the world to see lesser sights. Two rivers provide the entertainment by plunging deep and wide through wooded gorges. One adds to the performance by disappearing into a large cave. Signage on this route is not good.
Take a look at the Cave before starting the walk. Access to the Cave is via a path leading down from the Car Park (Map Ref. 929124). After returning to the Cavers Car Park cross the road to join the right hand of two paths. Pass a potholers' access hole and follow the path for about ¼ mile to where the river emerges from its underground passage. Initially it is hidden from view but can be heard through the trees on the right. Later it passes a grassy meadow on the right. You can continue on the path or cross into the meadow to follow the stream till it rejoins the path.
The footpath follows the river closely for a further ½ mile until it reaches a footbridge over the river Mellte. You can cross the bridge to view Sgwd Clun-gwyn from the other side, but the main route continues past the footbridge, crosses two tributary streams and runs uphill to the main viewpoint for the waterfall. Sgwd Clun-gwyn is clearly signposted, but the signs are hardly necessary with the sound of the falls to follow.
Return to the path after viewing the falls and continue in the same direction through woodland. Turn off right at sign to view the falls at Sgwd yr Pannwr (Map Ref. 923103). Cross a boardwalk over a small stream. Follow the way-marked path to the falls.
After feasting your eyes on this Niagara-like waterfall, follow the rough path upstream to Sgwd Isaf Clwn-gwyn (Map Ref. 923109).In some places the route involves clambering over rocks with no discernible path. The first sign of the falls is a flight of three rapids. These are followed by a thundering staircase of waterfalls. This route is a dead end and the return journey is along the same path and back up to the main route where you turned off to see Sgwd y Pannwr.
Back at the top, turn right and follow the path towards Sgwd yr Eira, noticing the gorge cliffs to the right. The path veers left, passing a viewpoint from where you can see the final set of falls, Sgwd yr Eira. At a fork in the way, the main route goes ahead (signposted Gwaun Hepste) and a path on the right zigzags steeply down to the dramatic curtain falls of Sgwd yr Eira (Map Ref. 929100).
Follow the path, making use of the necessary handrail, then clamber over the rocks to approach the falls. A path passes right behind the curtain offering the unusual opportunity to see a waterfall from behind. After viewing this final waterfall, return to the Car Park via the same main path.
This walk includes some steep climbs and potentially slippery sections. The most dangerous areas are fenced, but care should be taken on the rocks and alongside both rivers especially when the water is high and flowing fast.
This walk can be varied by starting from Penderyn.
The falls are about six miles northeast of Glyn-Neath which is on the A465 main road. There are 15 waterfalls within a 4 mile (approx.) radius including Henrhyd falls, which drop 27 metres and can be walked behind, as can also Sgwd yr Eira (which is included in this walk).
Afon Hepste is a tributary of the Mellte and would receive no special note were it not for its scenic setting and its dramatic plunge over the falls of Sgwd yr Eira.
Afon Mellte is a tributary of the River Neath (Nedd) and distinguishes itself by carving its way through an impressive cave system before tumbling down a staircase of three large an memorable waterfalls. Its waters attract Dippers and other birdlife. With luck you might even glimpse one of the local mink.
Sgwd yr Eira - The curtain waterfall of Sgwd yr Eira has been formed where the Afon Hepste river leaps over a 50 foot cliff between high banks. Its unusual feature is that a narrow path runs behind the watery curtain and it is possible to walk behind the falls. The track was once used by sheep farmers. 'Eira' means snow, an allusion you will easily understand if you see the falls in full, white flow.
Sgwd y Pannwr is the lowest of the three falls on the Afon Mellte and tumbles over an elongated shelf that gives it a Niagara-like appearance (though nobody would pretend that it compares in size with that famous wonder). The pool below the falls is calmer than most sections of this river, due to a sharp curve in the river that slows down the flow. In some conditions it may be safe for bathing (but always take care and never risk bathing alone).
Sgwd Isaf Clwn-gwyn - many people miss this cascade, which is reached via a dead-end diversionary route. It is neither the largest nor the most unusual but is certainly pretty enough to make the effort of the walk worthwhile.
Sgwd Clwn-gwyn the topmost and the highest of the falls on this walk, Sgwd Clwn-gwyn tumbles about 40 feet over two ledges. The edge is well fenced on the side where the main path runs. Direct access to the falls is possible from the other side of the river (reached via a footbridge that you pass on the route).
Cave - There are many places where you can see rivers flowing out from the mouth of a cave. The unusual feature here is that the water flows into the cave to begin an underground journey before emerging from another tunnel. The entrance is large and the water is shallow in most seasons. Providing you take care and have suitable footwear it is possible to enter the cave and see where its side tunnels lead away into the darkness.
Potholing - This spot is popular with potholers and you may find that their transport has taken all the available parking spaces. Have patience, this is called the Cavers' Car Park. The cave has several possible entrances, but most climbers enter by means of the small rocky hole alongside the path close to the road.