Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Brecon Beacons Waterfalls

I went on the most magically enchanted walk in the Brecon Beacons. 

Seriously!  In the car park, a wee robin hopped into the car, inspected the clutch and stick shift, then hopped around the car a bit more before realizing that the rental car had been recently hoovered and not yet filled with crumbs.  A bitter disappointment we were, I'm sure.

We chose a long walk on a cold day- 10 miles on frosty and icy trails.  The Brecon Beacons is a National Park in south Wales with a spine of undulating hills and steep, rounded summits, the highest peaks in the south of Britain.

There were caves to explore, and miles of trails.  The 100 mile Beacon Way was my original plan for Wales on this week, but winter walking in remote parts of Wales and pushing for that kind of distance seemed a little dicey.  Rather than get myself into trouble and strife, the whole concept of day hikes from a seaside cottage seemed much more pleasant this time of year.

This day really felt like winter.

A couple miles in, the waterfalls started flowing, and didn't stop all day.  The terrain was rocky and filled with steep hills and cliffs, and plenty of rivers to cross.

This was the most notable of waterfalls, Sgwd yr Eira (don't ask, it's Welsh)  as the trail goes right behind it.

That was pretty ballsy for winter.  It was cold and slippery, but wow.  A trail behind a waterfall.

I got soaked and did my best to keep the camera safe.

There was a footbridge that ran further upstream from the falls, but what fun would that be?

Every half mile or so, another waterfall would start roaring in our ears.  Tall, skinny ones, low long flows, huge powerful torrents.  Multiple tiered ones.

After a terrifying scramble up an icy cliff, the rest of the day was pretty much a cakewalk.

The fast-disappearing sun lit the forest and moors with moody highlights.

After an exhausting morning, the afternoon was fairly flat, but muddy where the sun hit and icy where it didn't.  We climbed up onto moorland and got a beautiful view of Pen y Fan and the high peaks of the park.

The forest was just enchanted here- cold mist coming off the falls and shrouding the countryside, with rivers your constant babbling companion.  It felt really special- miles for nowhere, remote, secret.

Finally, the last falls, a diversion just off the main trail and secluded in an amphitheater in the forest: Sgwd Gwladus.  It was dusk by now, and we walked the last slippery mile to the pub to warm up with soup and a pint before the drive back to Gower and the much balmier sea-level air.

The "Waterfall Walk" was fairly well waymaked as part of a recognized trail, but a map was necessary to make the long loop as most of the people on the trail tended to walk to the closest waterfall relative to a car park and turn back.  I invested in a few Pathfinder Guides for this trip with pre-planned walks and OS maps and found them immensely useful to plan walks and connect different trails.


  1. Great photos, especially the robin in your car. You were brave to walk behind that waterfall at any time of year!

    1. That trail would be fantastic in high summer. There was about a million places to stop for a swim, and the waterfall would have actually felt refreshing.