Brecon Beacons National Park
Discover the magical Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech walk. Take in the highest waterfall in South Wales and the beautiful Nant Llech river valley on this tranquil two hour hike
Combine the Henrhyd Falls Walk and the Nant Llech Trail for a Memorable Day Out
With Didem visiting friends and family in Turkey, I was left all alone to undertake my next hiking adventure (cue violins!). I was looking for something within an hour’s drive and once again I fancied seeing a waterfall or two.
So, I hit the web and got searching and in no time at all I had found my destination for the day! I was heading back to the Brecon Beacons National Park but more specifically, to Henrhyd waterfall (Sgwd Henrhyd in Welsh).
Henrhyd falls is the highest waterfall in South Wales and gained notoriety as the final scene of the 2012 Hollywood Blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, was filmed there. In the film, the falls doubled as the entrance to the Batcave.
The great news for me was that there was also a published 3.5 mile (5.6km) hike that I spotted on the National Trust website. Not only did this take in Henrhyd falls but also offered the Nant Llech walk that runs along the banks of the Nant Llech river, until it meets the river Tawe.
Henrhyd Falls Directions
Henrhyd Falls is located just to the north of the village of Coelbren, in the southern section of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Although in a rural location, there are a number of main ‘A’ roads that lead to within just a mile or so of the falls themselves. It was only the last 1.5 miles of the drive where I encountered a couple of stretches of narrow country road.
The following Henrhyd falls map highlights the location of the falls. Simply click the ‘Directions’ link at the top of the map to find the best route for you.
Henrhyd Falls Parking
The Henrhyd falls car park is the National Trust car park near Coelbren. The location pointer on the map above is for this car park, so the Henrhyd falls Google Maps directions will lead you directly to this destination.
I simply put the Henrhyd falls car park postcode (SA10 9PG) into my Sat Nav and this got me within about 300 metres of the car park, which isn’t too bad I guess!
Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk – Route Details
Once you have found a spot in the relatively small car park, head to the left side of the car park where you will see a large information board. Here you will gain some useful knowledge about the Henrhyd Falls as well as the Nant Llech waterfall trail.
You will then need to pass through two wooden gates and follow a gravel path down into the Nant Llech river valley. This path is fairly gentle at first but then steepens quite significantly.
At the bottom, turn left and follow the path across a wooden footbridge and up some steep steps. Within a short distance, the Henrhyd falls will come into sight. To reach the falls from the car park should take you little more than 10 minutes.
Spend Some Time and Enjoy the Falls
Like me, you will probably want to spend a little time marvelling at the majesty of this beautiful waterfall. It may only be 27 metres (90 feet) high but it is spectacular nonetheless.
If you are feeling brave, it is possible to follow the path that leads you directly behind Henrhyd Falls and then out onto the opposite bank. I decided against this option once I saw the National Trust sign that read: “Beware! Falling Rocks”.
A warning sign such as this would not typically put me off; it was the number of large rocks lying in the area behind the falls, where I would have to walk, that really made my mind up!
Update: On a subsequent visit to Henrhyd Falls, the draw of walking behind the cascading torrent of water was too much for me. This was a personal decision and I was fully aware of the risk I was taking.
It is also possible to make your way down the bank and across the river (subject to the river’s current) using the many rocks as stepping stones. This was easily achievable in August 2018, when I was there, as we were experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, with very low rainfall amounts.
Although there was still a decent cascade of water tumbling from the falls, I can only imagine what it must be like following substantial rainfall!
Once you have feasted your eyes on all the waterfall has to offer, it is time to embark on the next part of your adventure. Retrace your steps back along the path, across the footbridge, until you reach the bottom of the path that leads back to the car park. If you are just planning on visiting the waterfall, then you will now turn right and you will be back at the car park within minutes.
Nant Llech Trail
If you are there to enjoy the Nant Llech walk, you will want to go straight ahead at this point, along the right bank of the Nant Llech river. For this initial stage of the walk, the path sits close to the river and within a few minutes you will cross a wooden stepped boardwalk. At this point, a smaller waterfall comes into sight on your left-hand side.
Things to look out for…
Trout have been spotted trying to jump this small waterfall. I certainly didn’t see any flying fish but it’s well worth keeping an eye out for this activity. Have that camera ready!
As you pass this waterfall, the path climbs gradually until you find yourself a significant height above the river. At this point, you really get a sense of just how steep the valley side is and how far you have climbed above it!
The verdant Graig Llech Woods that adorn the steep valley sides are certainly a haven for wildlife. You may not always be able to spot this wildlife but you can certainly hear it! As I made my way through the woods, there was a constant and varied orchestra of birdsong to keep me entertained.
My eyes would dance up and down, left and right, trying to spot the architects of these wondrous sounds but to no avail. I would catch only fleeting glimpses of fluttering wings, as these wonderful little creatures retreated to branches on high. I think that my brisk pace and the resulting thud of my hiking boots ensured all birds kept their distance.
Things to look out for…
If you are prepared to stoll quietly through the valley, there is a chance that you may catch sight of a wide variety of birds. These include woodland birds such as Woodpeckers, Tree Creepers, Warblers and Wrens. You may even see Dippers and Wagtails hunting for insects along the Nant Llech river or possibly a Kingfisher grabbing its fish dinner!
Continue along the footpath until you pass through a wooden gate. This marks the end of the National Trust land. Before long you will pass over a small footbridge and within 15-20 minutes the path will gradually descend to just above the river once more.
You will soon spot a derelict stone building just off the path to the right. This is Melin Llech, a disused watermill. Please note: this is private property, so do not venture off the path at this point.
A few moments later a wooden footbridge will come into sight on your left-hand side. This leads across the Nant Llech river. Do not cross the river! Instead, take the path that leads straight ahead and continue for approximately 25 metres. Now, take the path that leads off to the left.
In a short distance, you will be right down alongside the Nant Llech River where you will see another small waterfall. Within minutes you will pass through a wooden kissing gate that leads from the Graig Llech Woods on to a minor road. Turn right and within 25 metres you will see another wooden kissing gate on your left-hand side.
Head through this kissing gate and within a couple of minutes the River Tawe will come into sight. Once you have reached the footbridge that crosses the river, you have made it to the halfway point of the Nant Lech trail. Spend some time enjoying the picturesque view of the river from the footbridge before starting on the return leg of your hike.
Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk – Your Return Options
Upon returning to the minor road, you now have a couple of choices. If you turn left, you can follow this small, quiet, country road all the way back to the car park where you started. This option turns the adventure into a circular walk.
However, I loved the route on which I came and had every intention to enjoy it once more. So, back through the Graig Llech Woods and along the bank of the Nant Lech river I headed. Before long I was back at my starting point.
Your Walk is Complete!
Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk Facts & Information
The fossil-rich rocks and rare plants of the Nant Llech river valley make this a very special place. There is a wide and rich variety of plants that cloak this narrow gorge. The limited light at the floor of the valley causes the trees to grow tall and thin, creating a high canopy similar to that of the rainforests in the Amazon basin.
Beneath this canopy, there is almost constant shade, resulting in the growth of a variety of rare ferns and mosses. This unusual diversity of plants and fascinating geology means the Nant Llech has been recognised as a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI).
How long does the walk take?
If you only want to check out the Henrhyd Falls, it literally takes 20-25 minutes, there and back. If you fancy seeing the falls and completing the Nant Llech trail, plan for about 2 hours 30 minutes.
How far is the Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk?
My ViewRanger App measured the walk at just over 4 miles (6.5km)
How difficult is the walk?
If you are reasonably fit, you should have no problems at all. There are a few steepish inclines along the route but the most difficult section is the final climb back to the car park at the end of the walk.
What should you wear?
In terms of clothing, this will obviously vary depending on the time of year when you visit. However, we would recommend wearing walking shoes/boots at all times. The paths are uneven and steep in places and can be slippery, especially around the waterfall. If you plan to get close or even walk behind the waterfall, bring those waterproofs!
Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech Walk – My Thoughts
When I spotted this walk on the National Trust website, I was instantly committed as I simply love waterfalls. However, with just a single image of the waterfall on the web page describing the walk, the rest was really left to my imagination, so I wasn’t actually expecting anything that special.
Once I had walked from the car park down into the Nant Llech gorge, I was instantly mesmerised by the beauty of the place. There was a wonderful green glow, as the sun shone down on the canopy above.
The waterfall was a spectacular sight and although I would have loved to have walked behind the falls, the “Beware! Falling Rocks” sign really put me off. It really doesn’t help when you see large rocks lying in the area behind the falls where you have to walk. They clearly fell at some point!
In my opinion, the Nant Llech trail was no less impressive. There was the constant sound of the river, as it negotiated its way along the valley floor. This was coupled with the orchestra of birdsong that echoed through the steep-sided gorge.
Just like the variety of sounds, there was plenty of variation in the Nant Llech trail as well. One minute you are walking right alongside the river admiring miniature waterfalls and the next you are high along the valley side, with the river barely visible.
When I arrived at the car park in the morning there were only a few cars but when I returned, the car park was full. In the two hours that I spent walking the Nant Llech trail, I only passed 5 individuals/groups. I, therefore, deduced that the large majority of visitors only visit the Henrhyd Falls.
Have You enjoyed the Henrhyd Falls and Nant Llech walk?
If you have visited the falls, enjoyed the Nant Llech trail or both, we would love to hear about your experience. Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Want to find out what others are saying about the Henrhyd Falls and the Nant Llech walk? Visit the Henrhyd Falls TripAdvisor page and read the large number of reviews.
Also, check out some of the other Brecon Beacons waterfall walks that we have enjoyed:
- Elidir Trail and Trek to Sgwd Einion Gam Falls (Our personal favourite!)
- Four Waterfalls Walk
- Talybont Waterfalls Walk
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