Frozen Waterfalls 2009

A small defiance of Global Warming.

Afon Pyrddin

The weather had been cold for several days, without snow or rain, but was on the point of warming back up again. There had been reports of the large Pyrddin waterfalls freezing, something that had not happened since 1987, when they froze completely, with no remaining flowing water. Being such a rare thing, this was an opportunity not to waste, and everybody else knew it too. We set off very early to get there at sunrise, before things started melting. Fortunately, the waterfalls are mainly north-facing, so they managed to maintain their ice for long enough. By the time we left, there had been over 50 other visitors to a place that would normally see only a couple of visitors on a winter's day. All were armed with a selection of tripods, cameras and dogs.

By the next day, rain had started, 90% of the ice on the walls had gone, and only about half of the ice remained on Sgwd Einion Gam. Looks like we were very lucky with the timings, though the visitors on that day got to watch as vast chunks of ice came crashing down the cliffs. Worse for pictures, but must have been an impressive experience.

Melincourt Falls

These also have a Welsh name; Sgwd Rhyd-yr-Hesg, meaning "Ford of the Rushes Waterfall". This is a stupid name, as it is neither a ford, nor are there any rushes. Perhaps there used to be, but not any more. It's also in an English speaking area (Vale of Neath). So nobody uses the Welsh name at all, except the precious few who think they should because it's supposedly correct. It's not. The name is Melincourt Falls (or Melin Court Falls, if you are allergic to compound words).

The falls are approached through a small woodland called Pen-cae'r-felin Wood (don't blame me, it's printed on the sign), covered by the Melincourt Falls Nature Reserve. At the head of the deeply carved valley, there are the two waterfalls, one carrying the main river, and the other apparently usually a dribbling stream falling down moss.