Brecon Beacons 4 waterfalls - alternative route (from Penderyn)

Gwent, Wales

SummaryGetting there

Alternative route to see these four impressive waterfalls - starting with one where the path passes behind the cascade.

Distance:6.7 Miles
Est. Time:3 hrs 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy 
Total Ascent:1345 ft 
Total Descent: 1345 ft 

DescriptionMap View

The RouteSafetyNotes


  • Four impressive waterfalls - including one where the path passes behind the cascade
  • Views to Corn du & Pen y Fan
  • Riverside and woodland

Most people have not heard of the rivers Hepste and Mellte so will be greatly surprised to see their impressive waterfalls.

The Route go to top

Sgwd yr EiraThe footpath passes through a gate beside a farm entrance. Pass some striking rock formations (inclined strata). Where a side path leads right you should continue straight ahead on the way-marked path following the white arrows. In the distance on the right you can see the twin peaks of Pen y Fan and Corn Du.

Where the path forks take the right-hand one following the fence, to comes out into an open area of heathland. Go straight across, cross the stile and follow the white arrow left, up the hill to another stile. Take the right hand path, still following the white arrows. Follow the fence to another stile and continue straight ahead (the original path has been deliberately diverted for conservation reasons). Pass by conifer woodland, dropping down into the valley toward the forest.

Sgwd yr PannwrThree large rocks and a signpost mark the right turn towards . Go down the path to Sgwd yr Eira (you will hear the roar of the waterfall). The path descends steeply down high steps and rough stones to the falls (Map Ref. 929100). Cross the river on the path behind the cascade

Follow the river bank a few yards downstream (over the rocks) until the path begins to zigzag up the bank (with handrail). At the top where the signpost points right to Gwaun Hepste (Car Park) and left to Sgwd y Pannwr take the left route. A few yards further along on the left a viewpoint allows you to look back to the falls. Another signpost points to Gwaun Hepste and back to Sgwd Yr Eira with an alternative path to Sgwd y Pannwr. Notice the gorge cliffs on the left. Turn left at a sign to view the falls at Sgwd yr Pannwr (Map Ref. 923103).

After feasting your eyes on this Niagara-like waterfall, follow a rough path upstream to Sgwd Isaf Clwn-gwyn (Map Ref. 923109) initially a flight of three rapids then a thundering waterfall staircase. This path is a dead end and you need to return by the same route and back up to the junction where earlier you turned off to Sgwd y Pannwr.

view frominside the potholers' caveSgwd Isaf Clwn-gwynAt the top, turn left and follow the obvious path through the woods to the next waterfall. Sgwd Clwn-gwyn is clearly signposted, but the signs are hardly necessary with the sound of the cacade announcing the route. Return to the path after viewing the falls and continue in the same direction. The path goes downhill, crosses two tributary streams and reaches a footbridge over the river Mellte (if time allows, you can cross and walk back to view Sgwd Clwn-gwyn from the other side). f the falls to follow. Continue on the same footpath past the footbridge. The footpath follows the river closely for a further ½ mile when the river disappears from sight (it then flows underground)

After a further ¼ mile the path turns right beside a potholers' access hole and comes out at a small road. Cross the road to the Cavers Car Park (Map Ref. 929124). Access to the Cave is via a path leading down from the Car Park. Finally, return to Penderyn via the same main path.

Safety go to top

The risk of slipping as you walk behind Swg y Eira falls is obvious, but other parts of this walk can become slippery or muddy after bad weather. Otherwise, this is a fairly easy low-level walk.

Notes go to top

This walk can be varied by starting from the Cavers Car Park near Ystradfellte.

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.

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