Cliffs, Crags and Cataracts 2010

Trawsnant Waterfall, Llaethnant, Cadair Cataracts, Cwmorthin Falls, Rhaeadr Tan-y-grisiau, Carreg Ddefod Falls, Afon Lliw, Hirgwm Waterfalls, Dulas Falls, Pistyll Hengwm, Severn Cascades, Afon Hore Waterfall, Nant y Berws Falls, Grogwynion Falls. And heat. Lots of heat.

This trip was to visit a series of waterfalls covered by Des Marshall's book Walking to Mid Wales' Waterfalls, and several other lesser sites that were on my personal todo list. The walks in the book are generally longer, covering more than just the waterfalls. Our visits generally covered the bare minimum. If you want extended walks, either use a map and make one up yourself, or use that book. Trawsnant Waterfall, Cwmorthin Falls, Rhaeadr Tan-y-grisiau, Carreg Ddefod Falls, Afon Lliw, some of the Hirgwm Waterfalls, Pistyll Hengwm and the Afon Hore Waterfalls are not in the book.

The trip was made in the worst possible weather for waterfall walks; blazing sunshine on one of the hottest weekends of the year so far. There had not been any rain for a while, and many mountain waterfalls had run dry. The heat was almost unbearable, turning a simple stroll into a fight against the heat. Occasionally the heat haze and harsh shadows would spoil the waterfall views, making this a frustrating way to view them. The mountains and valleys, however, looked nothing short of spectacular, and the wildlife was abundant, so a lot of pictures will be of things other than waterfalls. Enjoy.

Peregrine Falcons

Since I do not want to betray their nest site to idiot egg thieves, these are mentioned out of sequence. While blundering around above a gorge, we were lucky enough to see a nesting pair of peregrine falcons. The first flew away at high speed, then circled us at a distance, while its mate remained nearby screeching at us.

Trawsnant Waterfall

While this waterfall has appeared in a fairly well known waterfall book, and in some online guides, it is worth noting that the author of the original book got the name wrong, and each subsequent mention refers to that incorrect name, which has now become established as the recognised name of the waterfall. The waterfall is not on the Trawsnant stream; it is on the Afon Trannon, and the Trawsnant joins the river at the bottom of the waterfall.


Cadair Cataracts

These are normally viewed while following the Minffordd path up Cadair Idris, and are only a minor attraction on the route, compared with the stupendous views of the mountains. The cascades are mentioned as a major feature on the map only due to their proximity to the popular path. Given the rare visibility, a trip was made to see as much of the range as possible at sunrise, before returning later to do the actual walk.

Cwmorthin Falls, Rhaeadr Tan-y-grisiau and Carreg Ddefod Falls

Afon Lliw

Hirgwm Waterfalls

Although Des Marshall's book does describe a walk around this area, it covers only the top waterfalls, and concentrates mainly on a route through the forests above. Our route starts at the bottom, and concentrates only on the waterfalls.

Dulas Falls

These are once again mentioned in Des Marshall's book, but the route described there is much more extensive. It fails, however, to get a good view of the waterfalls. A route with better views is described here.

There are two rivers called Afon Dulas that join the Dovey/Dyfi at Machynlleth. One flows from the Pumlumon plateau to the south, and one flows from Cadair Idris' Dyfi Hills in the north (apparently, they like to have confusing river names in Machynlleth). Each of them has waterfalls. The waterfalls described here are the ones located on the northern Afon Dulas, at Aberllefenni near Corris. The waterfalls on the other Afon Dulas have already been covered in a previous gallery.

Pistyll Hengwm

At the northern edge of the Pumlumon plateau, there are several valleys cutting into it. One of these contains the spectacular Pistyll y Llyn, and the one beside it contains the Afon Hengwm (the one after that contains the non-waterfalls of Rhaeadr Ddu and Rhaeadr Wen, as well as the Dulas Gorge Falls). The river flows north to join the Afon Dulas (the other one this time), after beginning its life at the southern end of the valley at Bwlch Hyddgen, on the flanks of Siambr Trawsfynydd.

Another river begins on the same hill, and confusingly is also called the Afon Hengwm, flowing south into the Nant-y-moch Reservoir. This is a much more extensive river, and is better known. The waterfall is located on the more northern Afon Hengwm, and both the waterfall and river are virtually unknown, despite lying right beside the Lôn Las Cymru walking/cycling trail, and the Glyndŵr's Way trail.

My personal recommendation is to visit this impressive waterfall on a walk that also includes Pistyll y Llyn. Start at Cwmyrhaiadr, take the paths marked on the 1:25'000 Explorer maps to the top of Pistyll y Llyn, then take a forestry track to reach Lôn Las Cymru, follow that northwards along the edge of the Hengwm valley to reach Glyndŵr's Way, follow that northwest, branching off along a track to arrive back at Cwmyrhaiadr. Pistyll Hengwm should be visible from various points along the Lôn Las Cymru section. For best results, the walk should be done after a long spell of rain, with an overcast sky.

Near the bottom of the Afon Hengwm waterfall is a tiny kettle lake called Llyn y Delyn, which is only filled after heavy rain. For more details of this lake, see Richard Williams' Dyfi Valley notes.

Severn Cascades and the Afon Hore Waterfall

The Severn Cascades part of this route is described in Des Marshall's book, as by far the easiest walk (designed to be followed by regular wheelchairs). Our route extends it significantly to around 8 km, taking in tougher terrain (though all of it can be walked without much difficulty), and adding all of the Afon Hore's waterfalls. It is worth noting, however, that none of the main Afon Hore waterfalls are truly natural - more on that later.

Coed Maen Arthur, Nant y Berws Falls and Grogwynion Falls

This is another walk from Des Marshall's book, taking in the entire forest. As the last walk of the trip, we followed it completely, noting that it is exceptionally complicated due to the number of paths in the forest. Although I will describe the route to the waterfalls, from there on, it gets a bit too much, and you may just want to use the book if you plan on walking the entire route. It is worth noting that some of the marker post positions have been changed since the book was written.

The walk begins at Pont-rhyd-y-groes in the Ystwyth Valley. Either park near the Miners Arms Hotel on the B4343, or on the minor road leading diagonally off the B4343 a short distance to the south of the Miners Arms, when heading towards Ysbyty Ystwyth. There is space to park near the giant water wheel.