Waterfall Country, Brecon Beacons National Park
Peace, tranquillity and nature at its very best… If that is what you want, you will just love the Four Waterfalls Walk near Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons National Park
Discovering Waterfall Country and the Four Waterfalls Walk
Keen to expand our hiking trips portfolio, I went about researching a new day adventure for the two of us. Anyone who has visited South Wales before will know that there is certainly no shortage of nature hikes but I was on the lookout for something a little different.
Ever since I met Didem, I knew that she loved waterfalls so I endeavoured to find a day hike that took in some waterfalls. I searched the web for “waterfalls near me” and in no time at all came across a great looking hike known as the Four Waterfalls Walk, only 80 km (50 miles) away in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
This general location is commonly known as “Waterfall Country”. This name stems from the surprisingly large number of publicly accessible waterfalls that are located in and around the head of the Vale of Neath in South Wales.
I was staggered at just how many waterfalls in Wales there are. All the years I have lived in South Wales, I was completely unaware of the large concentration of waterfalls just a short drive away!
Ystradfellte Waterfalls Directions
We have visited the Brecon Beacons National Park on numerous occasions but we had never been to the area around the Ystradfellte waterfalls before.
There are a couple of starting points for the Brecon Beacons waterfall walk. These are the Gwaun Hepste car park and the Cwm Porth car park. We opted for Cwm Porth. Here is the address:
Cwm Porth Car Park Waterfall Centre, Cwm Porth, Ystradfellte, Aberdare CF44 9JF
Check out this map for the exact location of the Cwm Porth Car Park and the most suitable directions to get there.
Four Waterfalls Walk – Getting Started
From the Cwm Porth car park head back out of the entrance and directly across the road and you will see a small opening in the wall. The information board, which is well worth reading, indicates the start of this Brecon Beacons waterfalls trail.
This first section of the Four Waterfalls Walk is highlighted by yellow waymarker symbols on posts and takes you south along the eastern bank of the Afon Mellte (River Mellte).
The path is initially narrow but mainly flat during this stage of the walk. However, there are parts where it is particularly rocky and uneven with tree roots running through the surface of the path.
Four Waterfall Walk – Now for the Waterfalls!
After 30-40 minutes you will join the main section of the trail and it is at this point where you will see your first waterfall.
Check out this PDF for a detailed illustration of the walk and the location of the waterfalls. The main trail is a circular path and you simply follow the red waymarker symbols that appear on numbered posts to make your way around.
To view the waterfalls you are required to follow the waterfall link paths using the green waymarker symbols, again on numbered posts, as guidance.
When you reach each of the four waterfall link paths, you will find an information board. These indicate the name of the falls, the distance of the falls from the main path and level of difficulty to reach the falls.
“Also, check out our Sugarloaf Walk”
Waterfall 1 – Sgwd Clun-Gwyn
Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, ‘fall of the white meadow’, is not only the first of the three celebrated falls on the Mellte river but also the easiest to view. The cliff top viewing point is just 80 metres along the waterfall link path and offers perfect views from high above the falls.
Waterfall 2 – Sgwd y Pannwr
Return to the main path and continue in a southerly direction, continuing to follow the red waymakers. The next waterfall link path leads you to two waterfalls, the first being Sgwd y Pannwr, ‘fall of the fuller’ or ‘fall of the woollen washer’.
Sgwd y Pannwr is a long shelf-like waterfall that resembles a miniature Niagra Falls in many ways.
Waterfall 3 – Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn
Having feasted your eyes on the Sgwd y Pannwr, head upstream along the river bank. The Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, ‘lower fall of the white meadow’ is the next falls on the Four Waterfalls Walk.
As you make your way along the bank of the Mellte river you will find that at times there is no obvious path and that scrambling over rocks is necessary.
A flight of three rapids will be your first sign of the Sywd Isaf Clun-Gwyn falls. These are closely followed by the thundering cascade of the main falls.
Once you have enjoyed this spectacle, you will need to return in the direction you came, towards Sgwd y Pannwr, as this route is a dead end. The return journey is along the same path and back up to the main route where you turned off to see Sgwd y Pannwr.
Waterfall 4 – Sgwd yr Eira
Once you have rejoined the main Four Waterfalls Walk trail, you simply turn right and follow the path for a short distance towards the final falls, Sgwd yr Eira, ‘falls of snow’.
Unlike the first three falls that are located along the River Mellte, the Sgyd yr Eira is located on the River Hepste.
The link path that leads you to these falls in by far the most challenging of the four. There is a steep descent with over 170 steps taking you down to the river.
To then reach the falls, you need to clamber over many rocks. This is a precarious task as they are extremely slippery! This is all worth it as the Sgyd yr Eira is one of the waterfalls in wales you can walk behind.
As you walk behind the falls, you will get a real sense of the sheer power of mother nature, as the water thunders overhead. You can literally pass right behind the falls and out onto the opposite bank.
Once you have finished taking in the majesty of this wonderful sight, return to the main path and turn right. At this point, the path heads back in a northerly direction.
In approximately 30 minutes you will arrive back at the beginning of the red waymarked track, near to where you viewed the first waterfall.
At this point, you re-join the yellow waymarked track that takes you back along the four falls trail to your starting point at the Cwm Porth Car Park.
Your Four Waterfalls Walk is complete!
Four Waterfalls Walk – Our Thoughts
The photographs that we have published on this page probably paint a picture of a beautiful and serene day. This was not entirely the case as the weather turned out to be somewhat different to the weather forecast that we checked.
Occasional showers turned out to be long persistent stints of heavy rain, brought in from the north by strong gusty, cold winds.
Didem’s ‘waterproof’ jacket proved to be far from waterproof and there soon appeared to be an equal amount of water on the inside and on the outside! Just to add insult to injury, one of her walking boots started to also take on water through a newly acquired hole.
Although my misery was not quite as severe, I did manage to get my trousers completely drenched whilst walking behind the Sgwd yr Eira falls. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I tripped and fell face first into a muddy puddle on the return path.
It was only once we had returned to the car, changed clothes and had some warmth returned to our chilled bones that we began to appreciate the beauty that we had witnessed.
Although we both didn’t exactly have the best experience on the Four Waterfalls Walk, we both look back on the day with fondness and would both undertake the walk again in a heartbeat.
Next time, we will choose a better day weather-wise and wear greatly improved hiking gear (our Santa wish list has already been written!)
Four Waterfalls Walk – Q & A, Information and Tips
What is the Four Waterfalls Walk Brecon postcode?
CF44 9JF – This is the postcode given on the Cwm Porth car park address and the one we used to reach our destination. However, when our Sat Nav lady told us “you have arrived”, we certainly had not. In fact, we still had approximately 1 mile to run. Thankfully the Waterfalls were well signposted from the village of Ystradfellte.
How far is the walk?
The published distance is 5.5 miles (9km)
How long does the Four Waterfalls walk take?
Obviously, this is going to vary depending on how fit you are, how fast you walk and how long you choose to spend at the waterfalls.
It took us 3.5 hours in far from ideal conditions.
Is the Four Waterfalls Walk difficult?
Again, this depends on who you ask. We are both pretty fit and found the walk fairly comfortable from a physical perspective. The main track is fairly flat but the walks down and back from the falls can be challenging. Check out what other people have said about the walk to get a better idea of how suitable the walk is for you.
Make sure you visit all four falls – During our research about the Four Waterfalls Walk we discovered that a fair few people actually miss one of the falls while on this walk. This is probably because there are four waterfalls but only three waterfall link paths.
The link path for Sgwd y Pannwr is also the path you have to take for Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn. Unfortunately, some visitors who make it to Sgwd y Pannwr don’t realise that they need to then walk further upstream to reach Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, therefore missing it completely.
Wear appropriate footwear and clothing – In our opinion, you should most definitely wear a decent pair of walking boots regardless of the weather conditions. The path on the initial section of the walk is uneven in places. The river banks, especially around the falls, are rocky and often slippery so having boots with good ankle support is important. If they are waterproof, this is an added bonus!
The weather in the Brecon Beacons National Park can change quickly, as we experienced. Therefore, having good waterproof clothing is essential. This is, even more, the case if you are planning to walk behind the falls at Sgwd yr Eira. So, take both a waterproof jacket and a pair of waterproof trousers.
Take sufficient food and water – The Four Waterfalls Walk can last anywhere from 3-5 hours. It is therefore important to not only take a couple of litres of water per person (more on hot days) but a packed lunch as well. At the very least, make sure you have some high energy snacks packed.
Take a route map – We think that the route is easy to follow without a map as the information boards are very detailed and the waymarker symbols on posts are frequent. That said, it certainly makes sense to have a backup so here’s a simple colour coded route plan for you to download.
Get there early – We arrived at 08:15 on a cold November morning and there were already two cars in the car park. Upon our return just after midday, the entire car park was full and there were cars queueing for a spot.
If you get in trouble – In case of an emergency, take note of your nearest numbered post and call 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
If you have any additional questions or comments about the Four Waterfalls Walk please enter them in the comment box below and we will do our very best to answer them. Thanks!
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