Archive for the ‘waterfalls’ Tag

Around the Caerfanell Valley   12 comments


One of my favourites. High edges, streams, waterfalls , a blue sky and breakfast outdoors. A perfect combination.


The weather forecast was for a reasonable day with some sunshine. We hadn’t expected a clear blue sky morning. It was glorious


Although the large waterfall at the start of the walk was in shadow


The Caerfanell valley is a beauty and on a clear morning in spring the combination of blue sky, green trees and a bubbling stream is enchanting


Even after a dry spell the path is a muddy one but with views like this, hardly a chore


Small waterfalls cascade line the route and as I always do here I went a bit crazy with the camera. Not a bad excuse though



We were out early – for us anyway – so the whole place was deserted


The reason for such keen-ness? Another outdoor breakfast. Life is pretty good under a warm sun, eating a bacon and egg sandwich with a fresh cuppa



Alas such a good day deserved a high level walk so there was some hard work to be done


The walk directly up the slopes at the back of the photo below is one of the steepest I know but it does deliver you to a high and little frequented edge that is a real joy



TJS was again my muse for the day



These edges are a feature everywhere in the South Wales mountains but these are almost always deserted and have extensive and expansive views. On a clear day like this its hard to imagine a better walk



As you reach Carn Pica (sadly with its impressive cairn now collapsed) the view open out to the high peaks of the Brecon Beacons. Corn Du and Pen y Fan always stand proud


With the weather being so stunning we extended the walk by carrying on towards Fan y Big. After almost 3 hours walk/breakfasting from the car it was only here that we started to see people


These edges are equally fine with equally expansive and extensive views to the north. In fact due to the peculiar geography you can make an almost a 360 circuit of the high ground along edges




We cut back across the plateau to the southern edges again following the Beacons Way. I’ve never walked that part before and expected a bash through heather and bog but in fact it was well-marked and actually quite delightful with some new vistas


All that walking deserved another stop for second lunch and another brew, this time perched high up on the edges


From there it was pretty much straight down past another succession of pretty waterfalls.



We could have stayed out longer but the forecast mentioned heavy showers that in the end never materialised. Still it was a fine walk and we’d enjoyed the best part of the day having gone out early. I’m liking the outdoor breakfasts, well worth the effort to carry the larger stove and fuel around



No idea how long the walk was as I forgot to turn off the mapping apps so it added on the 40 mile drive home. I’m guessing around 9 miles of magnificent entertainment.

Xmas Warm Up and Wet Down   10 comments

Xmas is time of traditions and friendship. Our little posse of friends and families celebrate the start of the holidays with a gathering at a hostel or bunk house and its a highlight of the year. For the past couple of years our home has been the Old School Bunkhouse and a very fine place it is. Warm comfortable with bags of space and a huge kitchen.

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

When I say a highlight I certainly don’t mean the weather. The previous year was pretty poor and if anything this year was much worse. Did it matter? Not one bit. The weekend passes by with the simple pleasures of lazy and outsize breakfasts, a few short wanders on the local hills and more convivial time spent preparing meals, chatting and drinking a few celebrity beers. The kids enjoy the simple pleasures of having the run of a huge multi-roomed hostel (and a TV worse luck!). It’s all very simple and undemanding and very satisfying indeed. Spending this weekend with good friends of 30+ years (god is it really that long) is a fine tradition and I hope it continues for as long as we can bore each other with the tales from years gone by.

Now having said all that, I should come clean and say that I really wish the weather is better next year! The area has so much to see and do that I really want to get out and see it through something other than a waterproof hood. The Saturday this year wasn’t too bad truth be told. We got out for a couple of walks.

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

Before lunch we took the juniors (and some seniors) out around the local lanes and paths. Sunshine was mixed with dark and stormy skies and rain was always a threat. Sometimes it’s nice to walk without the burden of a day-pack and all the accompanying hassle. Sometimes its nice to just walk.

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

After lunch a few hardy souls took a walk up Twistleton Scars. Apart from one inadvertent trespass we had a fine walk under glowering skies – a sign of things to come, again just enjoying being out rather than striving for some goal of distance or height.

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

Alas that was as good as it got weather-wise. The last two days were pretty much washed out with heavy rain. This did provide some excitement though.

We got to take the kids to Yordas Cave in Kingsdale. An old showcave that the kids enjoyed immensely. A thunderous stream and waterfall underground provided an exciting if short diversion

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

EWO went out walking and came back looking rather sad and soaked, worth the petrol money as far as I was concerned. Schadenfreude is the word I believe. Only Germans could have a specific word for taking pleasure in others misfortune

And on the final morning, EWO and TYG went out again and came back with tales of swollen streams and life threatening stream crossings. We went out to take a look and discovered some dangerous water flows that very nearly caused us to get wet feet. Some people just can’t help telling porkies and I doubt we will ever let them forget about the day when they risked life and limb paddling through a puddle. Never let the truth get in the way of a good wind up I say.

chapel le dale, ingleborough, ingleton, Old school bunkouse, ribblehead viaduct, waterfalls, twistleton scars, yordas cave, kingsdale

So not much to write home about in terms of outdoor adventures but a superb weekend anyway. Mark has posted his version here and refers to some of the stories from the Xmas get-togethers from many years back before we started increasing the population. Let me finish off the post by elaborating on one of those tales he mentioned by way of my own cathartic amusement and to get me some big points in anecdote bingo.

A gathering at one of our homes always involved us cooking a proper roast dinner with all the trimmings. Cooking can be a tiresome business and we always found it helped to punctuate the day with a regular supply of beer. This does have the minor downside of leading to some poor decision-making on behalf of the chef collective. We once neglected to put the roast spuds in the oven for example until far too late. Some bright spark decided we could microwave them first to speed up the process. Alas we had about 12 people to cook spuds for and one microwave. No problem, just fill the microwave. When I say fill I mean really fill! We just crammed the thing so full that the little rotating plate just went round on its own without moving the spuds. When you opened the door spuds just tumbled out. Anyone with a brain (unfettered by alcohol it should be said) knows that microwaves cook less efficiently the more stuff you put in. End result is after 30 minutes on full power we still had raw spuds. There then ensued a furious debate between those who claimed the spuds were pretty much ready and those who knew they were raw – namely me. The air of tension was palpable  and time was ebbing away so I took the executive decision to throw the spuds out of the window in a fit of pique thus removing them from the equation. There was a silence as everyone looked at the spuds on the back garden lawn before realising that the only way forward was to drink some more beer. The saddest part is that 20 years on some of those involved still claim the spuds were cooked. They weren’t! 🙂

Twas the Weekend before Christmas   7 comments

The annual friends pre-xmas gathering had moved. After 3 splendid years at Ninebanks Youth Hostel we decided it was time for a change. A year or so before we came across The Old School Bunk House at Chapel le Dale near Ingleton. The location was perfect with plenty of walking on the doorstep and loads of interesting limestone scenery to explore. Despite some pretty miserable weather we had a cracking good time.

The bunk house is excellent. Really well appointed, warm and spacious and the owners were friendly and accommodating. Perhaps not quite as much character as some of the places we’ve been to but a huge kitchen (where we tend to spend most of time) and a lounge with enough comfy seating for all us (something singularly lacking at Ninebanks) gets a massive thumbs up from me. I felt at home in minutes, always a sign you’ve hit the jackpot

chapel le dale, old school bunkhouse

Sunshine was in short supply all weekend. Saturday was dark and grey but it did stop raining just before lunch. The kids were not keen to go out but what do they know. They were going out and that was the end of it.

5 Miles

5 Miles

We took a stroll across the limestone to Great Douk Cave.


We had planned to take the kids caving in here (it’s just an easy walk-in sort) but after weeks of rain the entrance was thundering with water. Caves are not a good place to be exploring in high water. We contented ourselves with a scramble about in the entrance and a look down the excavated hole. This was just a rubble filled hole last time I was here but now it’s a sizeable pot-hole. supported by scaffolding and gushing with water. Never quite understood the need, in an area littered with caves, to dig new ones 🙂

Great douk cave

Great douk cave

great douk cave

Our cave fix satisfied we wandered up on to Fenwick Lot, one of the expansive areas of limestone pavements that this area is renowned for. I have a certain fascination for them with their myriad holes and blocks. The kids interest lasted slightly less and most had had enough fresh air by now (the bunk house has a TV and DVD player you see!)

fenwick lot

The hardiest souls noticed shafts of sunlight and headed up the hills onto Souther Scales Fell. Steep it was – very steep! The views back across towards the Ribblehead Viaduct were pretty good and the weather was almost promising

souther scales fell


souther scales fell

The path that follows the edge towards Ingleborough along the flanks of Green Hill is excellent and I don’t think I’ve ever walked it before. We were encouraged to press on to the summit although the light was fading. Right on cue, sunshine was replaced by clouds and rain so most of us headed back down the steep edge to Humphrey Bottom. Unsurprisingly a couple of minutes after heading down it stopped and the sun came out again!


The path across Humphrey Bottom used to be a nightmare of quaking bog, a graveyard for dry feet. In recent years however the whole way has been paved and what an improvement it makes. No ugly scar on the hillside and – dry feet. We made our way back as the last of the light faded with a respectable 5 miles covered and fine day in the wet circumstances. Mexican food and beer tasting followed to close out the evening in true xmas style – who says Xmas shouldn’t begin with Chilli, Enchilladas and Corn Bread!

Sunday dawned cold and wet with hail showers and general unpleasantness. Time for another long leisurely and exceedingly large fried breakfast waiting for the weather to improve and it did – a bit. The Ingleton waterfalls walk beckoned and despite my natural reticence to pay money to look at natural features (they charge you for this walk) we agreed it would keep the kids interested.

4 Miles

4 Miles

Up Swilla Glen along the River Twiss, past Pecca Falls and up to Thornton Force. The rain held off and we even had some glimpses of sun. The falls were in spate and thunderous with water after the rains and quite impressive

swilla glen

pecca falls

pecca falls

pecca falls

Thornton Force was amazing. I was the only idiot who scrambled across the slippery rocks to try and get behind the falls – I gave up halfway across – it was too cold for a swim.

Thornton Force

Thornton Force

Thornton Force

Back across the top and down into the gorge of the River Doe.

river twiss

river twiss


More waterfalls of Beezley and Snow Falls but the light was fading and I’m not skilled enough with the camera yet to get decent photos in such a dark environment. Tripod needed really. Quite a long walk in the end and it was dark when we finished but everyone seemed to enjoy it and that is of course the most important thing

beezley falls

beezley falls

snow falls

That was the end of the excitement though. Monday was a total washout, a truly awful day of driving heavy rain from the moment we woke to the moment I arrived home later in the evening. A sign of the winter to come. A fantastic weekend enjoyed in the company of old familiar friends and faces. We’ve already booked for next year. I would wish everyone a happy Xmas and New Year but of course that would dumb considering it’s now February 26th! 🙂

“Twas a dark and stormy October”   10 comments

October half-term week at my parents caravan in mid-Wales is an annual fixture for us. We’ve had some superb weather the past few years with some sunny walks on the beach and in the nearby mountains. Not this year. The weather was cold, wet, grey and miserable most of the time although I was only there for the two weekends at either end.

Still we got out and about so here are a few photos and some words about our little adventures:

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Lots of dark skies and seas to challenge this budding photographer.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

And some wildlife, including a seal who we followed up the beach for 30 minutes as he swam and played in the waves a few metres from the beach. Not bad for photos of grey deal in a grey sea under a grey sky

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Storms arrived to batter the coast along with a little sunshine to brighten the mood

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The following day was dark and bleak with a beach covered in foam and a wind you could barely stand up.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The dark skies matched my mood as I had to head home and go back to work for a week while TBF and the kids stayed the rest of the week.

When I returned the weather was, well, much worse, a day of torrential rain while I sat in the caravan and worked. The day after was ever so so slightly better. Torrential rain with the occasional sunny interval. Encouraged we headed out to the Hafod Estate to look at the waterfalls guessing they would be impressive after such a wet spell and indeed they were.

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

You can look at a more detailed post from our visit a couple of years back

That evening there was a high tide and combined with strong winds the sea overwhelmed the coast. The car park at the beach was strewn with driftwood where the tide had flowed in over the foreshore. We took another walk along the promenade at Aberystwyth and were stunned to see how much beach was now on the road and the damage to the pavement and railings

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

I’ve been coming down her for most of my life and I don’t recall seeing this happen before. Never ceases to amaze me the power of the sea and the damage that can be done to seemingly solid structures in the spate of a few hours.

As you may know over Xmas and New Year these storms and high tides returned with even more furious force and have pretty much destroyed the same stretch of sea-front. I can only hope that the the local authority can provide the necessary funds to restore this wonderful seafront that has such a special place in my memory. As we strolled along the prom and through the castle grounds we had no idea of the destruction that was to follow. It will be interesting to see the recovery when we return again in March

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

A walk back over the Constitution Hill and back to Clarach for a final stroll on the beach before leaving all behind for the winter

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

At home with our friends from the North – Afon Mellte Waterfalls   10 comments

Well, the next day was worse, overcast with heavy persistent rain all day. I volunteered to watch most of the kids while Mark and the rest of adults and A went to visit Hereford cathedral and the Mappa Mundi, fascinating but I’ve seen it a few times already. You can read about their little trip here on Marks blog.

The next day the forecast was slightly better so we decided that a day by the waterfalls to the SW of the Brecons would make a decent day out. The rivers of the Mellte, Nedd and Hepste create a playground of waterfalls, caves, gorges and rivers that are the best in the UK in my humble opinion. I took in this walk around the same time last year and as you are to find out the conditions were slightly different.


Afon Mellte enters Porth yr Ogof

When we set off the weather was damp but only raining lightly. As we drove down towards Abergavenny and over the Heads of the Valley road it turned pretty nasty with dark brooding skies and heavy rain. I was tempted to pull over and just head home, such was paucity of the weather but pressed on as we’d already come a long way. When we pulled into the car park the weather was quite frankly appalling. We decided to have a comical picnic in the car with the rain playing a drum-beat on the roof. I enlivened the proceedings by lighting the stove for a brew between my feet under the steering wheel, an act that Jane thought bordered on suicidal. By luck we survived but the weather was still pretty vile. We decided that we were going to get very wet anyway so may as well make the most of it so off we went.

We’d enthused the kids with tales of the massive cave of Porth yr Ogof which you can walk into via the dry river bed that precedes it. Not today. Rather than the dry-bed what we got was a raging torrent of foaming brown water and we could barely see the cave let alone walk into it. We made do with an exploration of the various access points into the roof of the cave as you start to head downstream. The water emerges from the cave at a spot called the blue pool normally a crystal clear calm pool of water much used by cave divers for practice. Today it was a just part of the roaring Mellte river and an exhilarating spot which I think the kids loved, especially watching the water charge from the cave mouth.


The Blue/Brown Pool


Fun in the rain

I’ve been to this spot several times and have never seen it like this. It really whet the appetite for the main falls to come.

It’s a good couple of miles to the falls a journey enlivened by the numerous side streams that were racing across the path. I put my trail shoes to the test and stood in the water to help all the kids (and adults) across. The kids thought this was mighty exciting and it added a sense of adventure and fun into what could have been a depressingly wet day.


River Mellte riverside path/wade

I was chuffed that everyone seemed to be having a good time. It helped to cover my frustration and disappointment that the summer weather was so poor when I had so many places I wanted to share.

We reached the first fall Sgwd Clun-Gwyn and as expected it was majestic, a maelstrom of spray and noise, a real wow factor and totally different from the last visit. No gorge scrambling or canyoning today!


Sgwd Clun-Gwyn


Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

The next fall Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn was even better as you can walk right down to the edge of the falls (although I had my heart in the mouth most of the way along the narrow path above the gorge with the kids at play!). When we were last here there was a group of canyoners scrambling behind the falls – no chance of that today!


Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn


Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

We’d hoped to continue on to to the star attraction Sgwd yr Eira with its path behind the falls. However it was late and the kids were tiring and we guessed we’d probably get nowhere near the falls let alone walk behind them. Reluctantly we retraced our steps with more stream crossings and arrived back at the car completely soaked. A wet day but everyone seemed to have had a great time, sometimes you just have to take a chance on a bad day and try to get the most out of it. I think we achieved that objective to great effect.

You can read Marks account of the day complete with his first musical slide show here. Mine is below so hope you enjoy it, captures the mood with the videos better than the photos alone. Surely we had to get a better day before Mark and his family returned home…

Hafod Estate – A hidden gem   8 comments

When I was a kid me and my parents explored most of the well-known sites in the immediate vicinity of Aberystwyth, especially the numerous Forestry Commission picnic areas and short walks around the local lakes and rivers. One area that we missed was the Hafod Estate a couple of miles from the tourist spot of Devils Bridge. My parents discovered it a couple of weeks before our October trip and said it was pretty good so on our last day before heading home we headed off with a picnic lunch to check it out.

You can find out more about the estate here, but this is brief summary taken from the site:

Hafod Uchtryd, 12 miles south-east of Aberystwyth, is recognised as one of the finest examples in Europe of a Picturesque landscape.

Its most celebrated owner, Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), built a new house in this remote location and laid out its grounds in a manner suited to displaying its natural beauties in sympathy with the ‘Picturesque principles’ fashionable at the time, with circuit walks allowing the visitor to enjoy a succession of views and experiences. Johnes also used the land for farming, forestry, and gardening, in each case trying out new ideas and experimental methods. Hafod became an essential destination for the early tourist in Wales.

I’ve shown a map below of what I guessed was the route we took as the paths aren’t marked all that clearly on the map

There are several trails through the estate but we decided to combine a few parts of all of them into a walk that evolved through the day. The car park is up at the top so we headed down towards the first small river with its gorge, waterfalls and bridge, a good little taster for what was to come.


Gorge in the Ystwyth tributary


The first bridge

D is really into walking but L less so so she needs some encouragement and the diversions on this walk were perfect.

We continued on a well made path across to one of the highlights, a wobbly chain bridge across the Ystwyth gorge.


Chain Bridge

The kids went back and forth over the bridge, amused by its swinging around. I took photos of the small gorge, my mind already whirring with a plan to come down with GM and have a play in the water. It would be ideal for some floating down rapids type fun although it would need to be in high water


Ystwyth Gorge and Chain Bridge


Ystwyth Gorge

As we headed downstream following the river the sun came out after a pretty grey start to the day and the light in the trees was stunning.


Autumn sunshine

We reached a lovely bridge over the Nant Gau and were intrigued by a sign to “Cavern Cascade”.


Nant Gau

We set off on the path that traversed an open pasture before heading along the much smaller mini-gorge of the Nant Gau and into the dark forest. We walked for a fair way before we reached a very pretty waterfall on a side stream where the path seemed to end.


Waterfall, Nant Gau tributary

It was distinctly un-cavern-like so I took one last look to see what was around the corner. Just as well. The river turns and sharp bend and disappears behind a small crag through which was what looked like an old mine passage. In fact it had been cut specifically to create an underground viewing platform for close up look at the waterfall.


The “Cavern”


The “Cascade”

Needless to say the kids thought this was extremely exciting even though the tunnel was a bit wet. Photos don’t really do it justice unfortunately but it was a nice surprise to find it and well worth the effort (some of the video in the slide show gives a better impression).

Suitably satisfied we headed off along the “Gentleman’s Walk” and found a nice bench in dappled sunlight in the forest for our picnic lunch. Considering it was the end of October it was remarkably warm and we spent a very pleasant hour eating and messing about.


Picnic in the forest

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves so we continued along this path high up through the trees above the Ystwyth, passing through more groves of trees, another tunnel through the rock and another pretty waterfall, the “mossy seat”.


Tunnel on the Gentlemans Walk


Mossy Seat Waterfall

The path then drops steadily down to the Ystwyth, now much more open and broader. The views back towards the higher ground and downstream in the fading autumn light were stunning.


View NW towards the Cambrian Mountains

When we reached the bridge we had a whole host of routes back to the car.


Ystwyth from the Alpine Bridge

As the light was already starting to fade (the clocks went back the night before) we took a direct route across some broad open pastures which would make a great place for a summer picnic.


Sunny meadows on the route home

Just as we reached the car the sun vanished behind some grey clouds and it started to drizzle.

Considering I’d never heard of this place until a couple of weeks ago it’s an absolute gem. A great place for a family day out and not bad for a decent half a day walk to take in all the best bits. Well worth checking out if you’re down that way and especially on those days when a visit to the high fells isn’t really attractive.

Untrodden Brecon Beacons (for me)   5 comments

I was planning to go to Berwyns with a few friends on the Sunday and spend the Saturday at home festering in front of the TV while J and the kids are away. I woke early to a cloudless sky and with a very poor forecast for Sunday on my mind I decided I’d better head out and make the most of the day. One area I’ve never been to since I moved to the area was the SW of the Brecon Beacons near Tal y Bont . My route guides have a couple of walks in that area and one in particular combining new hills and ridges with waterfalls (I love waterfall walks) at the end around the Caerfanell valley so that ticked the boxes. The weather was still great as I set off and there are some lovely waterfalls right next to the car park and some stonking rest and picnic stops by the lower reaches of the river.

Waterfall near car park

From there it’s an unrelentingly steep climb to Craig y Fan Ddu with views to the south over the Welsh valleys and as far as the Somerset and North Devon coast opening up.

Looking towards the Welsh Valleys

Looking towards the Vale of Neath

From the top of the climb the walk levels out along the edge of steep sandstone escarpment which typifies much of the Brecon Beacons. This one, unlike the flesh pot of Pen y Fan was nearly deserted and gives a wonderful high-level stroll (once the steep stuff has been beaten). Already I could see the clouds bubbling up so I quickened my pace. No way did I want to get caught in a similar cloud-burst to the one I had to dash through at the supermarket the day before. The moorland was covered in bog cotton and the views to the high summits looked dark and threatening rather than warm and welcoming as they did when I drove past on my way in the car.

Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu

When I reached the main north facing escarpment the views were great and I had thought I might do an out and back along to Fan y Big. One look north at the long line of black clouds convinced me I’d better keep moving on my main circuit – it didn’t look the day to linger too long and push my luck.

Looking back along the Craig y Fan Ddu escarpment

Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu

Storm clouds gathering

Over the peat hags to Carn Pica for a brief brunch stop. There is a massive well-built cairn perched on the edge here with cracking views over to the Black Mountains and to my trusted friends, Ysgyryd Fawr and the Sugar Loaf.

Bog Cotton

I turned south and followed another escarpment around to Gwalciau’r Cwm. These lonely almost level escarpments really make for terrific walking – I don’t know why I’ve neglected them for so long. As always I spent my time looking for other possible routes. I reckon a long walk along the long ridge to the little hill of Tor y Foel to the South would be nice.

Tor y Foel and Tal y Bont Reservoir

I started down a ridiculously steep descent towards the Caerfanell river (remind me NOT to do this route in reverse). The walk then continues by the riverbank past numerous little cascades and waterfalls and some more lovely stopping places.

Caerfanell River

It was a little disappointing as the path keeps high up above the river and it’s difficult to see the falls. Still it’s a lovely valley and you can get up close to the main waterfall at the bottom.

Caerfanell Waterfall

Even better if you don’t try to hop across the boulders in front of a bunch of people and fall ar*e over t*t. My finger still hurts like hell. To get back to the car it’s a steep climb past another set of waterfalls.

More Waterfalls

More Waterfalls

The path is strewn with fallen trees, either nature has vindictive streak or someone in the Forestry Commission is having a laugh as they are crisscrossed over the path in a disturbingly regular pattern making progress extremely tedious. Or am I just paranoid. By the time I reached the car it was raining but I’d not been given the soaking I expected earlier. Top quality route and strongly recommended for anyone who wants to see the best of the Beacons without the crowds. 5.5 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent in 3 hours. On a more promising day I’d take longer with plenty of rest stops to soak up the views.

Full set of Flickr photos here

Posted June 11, 2011 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Walking

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Waterfalls   14 comments

Me, J and D had a full day for a decent walk while L was at Bristol Zoo with her Brownie pack. We had intended to take D up Pen-y-Fan now he was a fully-fledged mountain man but the forecast was uncertain and looked less than promising at 8:30am. A change of plan was called for, so we set off for the Waterfalls Walk in the southern Brecon Beacons. I’d done this walk with J a few years ago and it’s an ideal choice when poor weather rules out a day on the high fells. D seemed to like the idea of a long walk peppered with waterfalls and not too disappointed to miss out on South Wales highest mountain. The walk starts from the car park at Ystradfellte, where the river Mellte vanishes underground leaving a series of caves behind. The sandstone that dominates most of the national park, here gives way to limestone that allows the formation of these caves and the Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Neath rivers to create the greatest concentration of waterfalls in Wales. We started off around 10am by heading down to where the river should be to look at the gaping entrance to Porth-yr-Ogof.

D at Porth yr Ogof

I’ve been caving here many years ago and it’s quite an easy, albeit wet scramble through the cave to the famous blue pool on the other side (home to the dangerous sport of cave diving). The walk proper starts by heading down an open path along the river after it re-appears, passing some lovely spots for picnics and rests, before arriving at the first fall, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn.

Mellte River

The area is a popular spot for canyoning and we could hear the shouts and screams as well as the roar of water as we approached. The water level was quite low but the falls were still impressive and must be thunderous when the river is in spate.

Sgwd Clun Gwyn

The next fall is Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn where the wet-sports people can clamber behind the fall and also provide the passers-by with extra entertainment by jumping from the tops of the waterfalls into the deep green pools below.

Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn

What do you mean “not this one”!

This sort of canyoning and river scrambling is one of my favourite sports but I’ve never done it here. Me and GM have long-standing plans to explore the river properly i.e. in wetsuits, one of these days. We passed the next fall Sgwd y Pannwr, which with a leap of imagination sort of resembles the Iagwazu falls in South America!

Sgwd y Pannwr

The walk then continues away from the Mellte and over into the valley of the Hepste river for one of the highlights of the walk, Sgwd yr Eira.

Sgwd yr Eira

It’s a beautiful curtain of water with the added feature that the path takes you BEHIND the waterfall. It looks like you’ll surely get a soaking but in fact other than the misty spray you stay dry-shod. D found this part particularly exciting and I took some video to try and best capture the experience (it’s in the YouTube compilation at the end of the post).

Drier than it looks

From here it’s a seriously steep climb out of the gorge and up to the more open hillsides above. The next section is equally stunning as high level path traverses above the Mellte valley with expansive views over the Neath valley.

Neath Valley

We stopped for lunch to admire the views accompanied by some warm sunshine and some midges on a day trip from the Isle of Skye – there is probably more than enough to go round up there so they obviously felt they could spare a few.

D & J on the high level path

The path eventually drops down to the village of Pontneddfechan and after a drab mile along the road turns north into the next waterfall filled gorge of the Nedd Fechan (Neath). The path starts as an old disused tram-way before narrowing to a gentle path along the fast flowing river. A short detour takes you to Sgwd Gwladus on the Pyrddin river.

Sgwd Gwladus

Returning to the Nedd Fechan the path becomes rockier and the river more dramatic as you pass further stunning waterfalls of Sgwd Ddwli and a final un-named one.

Sgwd Ddwli

Final waterfall

We arrived at the lonely picnic spot at Pont Melin Fach ready for a second lunch but by now the weather had turned and it was drizzling heavily. D wasn’t too impressed by this turn of events but its all good experience and I told him some tales of far, far worse days out in the mountains. We pushed on continuing to follow the Nedd Fechan north through a much less trodden section, almost sub-tropical in its verdant lushness with new formations of limestone Tufa on the banks and everything coated in moss and dripping with water.

Upper Nedd Fechan Valley

We were all starting to feel weary as the miles mounted up and as we emerged from the trees we realised we were actually in the cloud. The rain eased off for the last mile over the fields to the car and we arrived at 4:30pm weary and a bit soggy.

Homeward Bound

A classic walk that I can strongly recommend with something for everyone and a respectable total of 11 miles and 2,000 feet of ascent.

I’ve put together a little compilation slideshow below and the full set of Flickr photos is here.

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