5th August 2019
9km (5.5 miles)
This months local trek was meant to be a follow up on the Bersted Park Trail, but unfortunately not all the new sculptures are in place yet, which means that I need to postpone this publication until the trail is all complete.
So instead, I thought I would share a fantastic walk from a recent holiday that encompasses four incredible waterfalls all in one trail. The walk is much further afield and situated in the beautiful Brecon Beacons near to Aberdare in Wales, so if you happen to be up that way then this is a must. It is a strenuous walk of 9km (5.5 miles) over some exceptionally narrow, steep and rocky trails which will take 4 to 5 hours to do.
Park in the pay and display car park at Gwaun Hepste, that charges £4 for the day, so make sure you have change as there is no card payment here. (Cwm Porth is an alternative car park).
The circular route is a red waymarked trail and is made up of a wide gravel track into the forest, which is steady underfoot at the beginning then starts to descend towards the river Afon Mellte, where it provides a safe route on the rocks. Each waterfall is then accessed by a much more difficult link path waymarked in green that are very narrow, particularly rocky and steep with many steps, these tracks are tough but will lead to the best views of the falls.
After about a 35 minute walk from the car park the rushing sound of the first waterfall can be heard and a short link path leads to Sgwd Clun-Gwyn fall, meaning the ‘fall of the white meadow’. The river pours over a third of this broad rock with a relatively big drop into a small pool where thrill seekers can sometimes be seen canyoning. Sgwd Clun-Gwyn is also the first of two sets of falls that are a few hundred metres apart on the river. Head back up to the red trail as this is the safer route to Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, it seems a long way round with the long steep rocky link path that descends 150m back to the river with over 90 steps, however following the river edge is very dangerous with some steep drops and should be avoided. The lower twin of the previous fall is a picturesque river that cascades over tiers of rock like a giant staircase into a steep gorge.
A short rocky walk back along the river leads to the beautiful Sgwd y Pannwr falls whose Welsh name reveals that it was once used for washing wool. It is made up of four separate tumbling falls of water spilling over channels in the rock to a shallow pool below.
A steep ascent from these falls back to the trail and a further descent of 150m and 170 steps brings us to the most magnificent of the falls Sgwd yr Eira meaning ‘waterfall of snow’. A large expanse of water tumbles over the high rocks creating a thundering curtain of water that has a fairly narrow ledge behind where farmers used to lead their sheep, presumably in single file to get to the other side of the river, this is a magnificent experience to be able to walk behind such a truly amazing phenomenon, on sunny days the colours of the rainbow can also be seen in the mist of the water below.
Listening to a waterfall is a great way to wash away your daily worries and de-stress, the strenuous walk to these ‘hidden gems’ is certainly worth getting back to nature and away from all the hustle and bustle.
On heading back to the car park take time for a slight detour into the woods to see the eerie moss covered trees where very little sunlight gets through the thick leaf cover above.