Blaenant y Gwyddyl 2010

When "nature reserve" becomes "overrun by nature".

This stream valley on the northern slopes of Glyn-neath is supposedly run as a local nature reserve. However, it has apparently not received enough attention, with its paths now obliterated by undergrowth. The locals, who lived on the reserve's access lane, did not know what I was asking about.

The reserve has an information and guide leaflet, but I warn you that it completely fails to represent reality. The OS maps are also laughably optimistic, suggesting several paths that do not really exist. The guide takes you along the worst possible route to access the reserve, but it is the only one that does not cross private land.

The heart of the nature reserve is the oak and maple forest, with the Nant y Gwyddyl stream falling in a pretty waterfall over a dramatic cliff. Despite its proximity to Waterfall Country, it has far more in common with its opposing neighbour Sgwd yr Argoed, with a small stream and extremely tough terrain, covered in the worst undergrowth.

Ignore the guide. If you want to see the waterfall, start in Glyn-neath. From the junction of the B4242 and A4109, follow the A4109 towards Abercrave. Take the first left, and when the road swings left, continue ahead on Lon y Nant. Park on that road. The footpath route starts at the end of that road, but the easy route is to take the tiny Glynmelyn Road on the right. Follow it over the ford up to the Cefn-isaf Farm (asking for permission if needed), by which time the road is a dirt track.

Follow the farm tracks and paths (shown on the 1:25'000 maps) towards the top end of the nature reserve. After the track crosses a small stream, follow the edge of the field beside the stream to reach the reserve's forest. Locate and follow a path heading downhill into the reserve, away from the small stream. It reaches the main stream above the lower waterfall. Ford the stream and head directly up the opposite bank along the remains of a path. When this reaches the base of the cliffs, head to the right along the base of the cliff to reach the main waterfall. Tough, experienced walkers only.