How The West Was Won 2010
Ogwr Fawr's Tarren Rhiw-maen Falls, Henllan Falls, Pen Pistyll/Pistyll Brynach, Aber Fforest Waterfall. Completing the waterfall walks To Do list.
Ogwr Fawr and the Tarren Rhiw-maen Falls
Located at the source of the Ogwr Fawr in the South Wales Valleys, the waterfalls have no official name, and are not even marked on the map. However, they are a locally popular sight, due to their location on the dramatic cliffs at the head of the Ogmore Valley. They are also perfectly sited to distract drivers on what has to be the toughest corner in the area.
- The superb scarps of Graig Fâch and Graig-fawr, towering over Cwmparc, on the side of the Rhondda Valley. The scarps are about 180 metres high each.
- Graig-fawr over Cwm Parc.
- The A4061 has already done some impressive hairpins on its way from Hirwaun to Blaenrhondda, and it has to do even more to get up the scarps here.
- Then as it drops into the Ogwr Fawr valley below the Craig Ogwr cliffs, it does the most ridiculous hairpin of all, almost making a complete circle. The tyres squeal, and the drivers struggle to hold their lanes. This picture may look like it was taken with a fisheye lens, but it really was just a standard 17mm EF-S (roughly equivalent to 27mm full frame).
- Directly above the hairpin are the Tarren Rhiw-maen crags, with the newly formed Ogwr Fawr tumbling over them in a set of waterfalls.
- The waterfall drops are about 4 metres, 2 metres, and 5 metres tall respectively. Really not that big, surpassed by several others in the nearby valleys. None of them hang cleanly, and due to the tiny catchment, they will need a lot of rain beforehand to pick up the flow.
- Small waterfall on a side stream just above the road.
- Wales Forever. Welcome to the Valleys, indeed. We returned to the parking areas by Bwlch y Clawdd, the highest point of the road, to begin our walk.
- The Ogwr Fawr basin, from Bwlch y Clawdd. The ridge on the right side of the valley is Mynydd Llangeinwyr, while the crags on the far right of the picture are Craig Ogwr.
- Our route takes us along the tops of the Craig Ogwr crags (not the offroader tracks that head up along the side of the A4107). The mountain on the left is Werfa (568 metres), near the end of this walk.
- Distant view of the Brecon Beacons; Corn Du (873 metres), Pen y Fan (886 metres) and Cribyn (795 metres) are visible.
- Cwm Ogwr Fawr.
- I would ask why it's here, but then, these are the South Wales Valleys. Of course this would be here.
- Tarren Rhiw-maen and the waterfalls, on the side of the short Braich yr Hydd ridge.
- "Are those animals ... safe?"
- Graig y Geifr on the far side of Bwlch y Clawdd. The hills above the crags are Mynydd Ton (535 metres) and Mynydd William Meyrick (517 metres).
- A lamb that thinks it's a Llama.
- Bwlch yr Afan, at the head of the Afon Afan. There are also two ridiculous (and pointless) hairpins here, if that's what floats your boat.
- Flooded track to Werfa. We followed this to the first junction then took the left branch, which contains many remnants of destroyed cars. Nice place, really.
- Forestry workings in Cwm Nant-y-moel.
- A very young lamb, whose mother seemed to have forgotten about it. It was totally unafraid, and allowed us to get just a few metres away. We then called the mother, who eventually remembered that she was supposed to be taking care of a lamb, and came back around the hillside to collect it. Once she saw us, she hurried over and quickly reminded the lamb that it was supposed to run away from potential predators.
- Superb view over many of the South Wales Valleys ridges. The slopes of Werfa, Braich yr Hydd, Craig Ogwr, Mynydd Ton's Mynydd Maendy ridge, Mynydd Ty'n-tyle (429 metres), Cefn Gwyngul's 440 metre hummock, and then a distant view of Mynydd Twyn-glas (472 metres).
- Pools on Werfa.
- View down the Mynydd Llangeinwyr ridge. Ripped apart by offroaders, scattered with litter, and too rounded to get many good views.
- Tonnes (literally) of frogspawn. Either that or floating brains.
- Superb view over Blaengarw and the extensive Garw Forest. The hill is Llyndwr Fawr (555 metres), and its scarp is between 150 and 200 metres high.
- Walking back along the edge of the A4107. Part way along, it is possible to pick up the offroader track back to the parking areas, but this avoids the views, and is likely to be boggy, thanks to the offroaders.
- Just a small fragment of the litter that is strewn all over the roadsides in this area. Welcome to the Valleys? Such a shame.
- Sunlight on Pentre in Treorchy.
- View over the top of Graig Fâch.
Pen Pistyll/Pistyll Brynach
Located at the northern end of Newport Sands, the beach at Newport in Pembrokeshire. Parking is on the northern side of the river near the golf club (while Newport itself is on the southern side), and requires either a short drive along the back lanes, or a walk along the coastal path to reach it from Newport. From the car park, the waterfall can be reached by heading north either via the beach or the coastal path. The beach route to the waterfall is only accessible at low tide. The coastal path route is always available, dependent only on weather conditions. The waterfall needs a significant amount (several days) of preceding rainfall to become insteresting.
- The Afon Nyfer at Newport.
- The estuary.
- Newport Sands, looking towards the Dinas Island peninsula.
- Sand formations.
- The edge of Foel Fach (132 metres), source of the unnamed stream that feeds the waterfall.
- Green cave.
- Sand ripples.
- Cave-riddled cliffs.
- Longest of the sea caves.
- Fat cave.
- Solutional patterns in the rock.
- The tiny waterfall at the northern edge of the beach. This picture follows at least a week of daily rain - in normal flow it is barely a dribble. The waterfall has been marked on maps since 1908 as Pen Pistyll.
- A 1970 guide to the area referred to it as Pistyll Brynach, presumably relegating the name Pen Pistyll to the outcrop above it. However, all maps since then have continued to refer to the waterfall as Pen Pistyll. Therefore it would appear to have two currently valid names. Given that the two-step cascade - normally just a dribble - totals just 4 metres in height, it doesn't even deserve a single name, let alone two.
- The coastal path crosses the stream just upstream of the waterfall, and it is possible to scramble up the side of the waterfall to it, allowing a short looping route back to the car park.
- The beach is apparently popular with rowing boats, as one of the few places they can easily launch.
- Cliffs and Cat Rock.
- The Bennet, a line of sand dunes at the head of the beach. The oddly placed car is one of many that are being used to launch the boats, driving the trailers down to the water, and potentially spoiling the perfect-sand pictures.
- Dunes. Sadly marred by the number of dog walkers who fail to clean up after their pets.
Aber Fforest Waterfall
Located at Aber Fforest, the mouth of Cwm Fforest, this waterfall is easily seen via a very short detour, when walking the coastal path between Dinas Cross and Newport. For a shorter dedicated walk, it is best approached either via the Fforest access track from the A487, or the path running down Cwm Dyffryn starting near Pont Felin-wern-dew, which appears to be maintained. Both have limited parking available on the side of the A487. Although there is a right of way running along the top edge of Cwm Fforest, and this is the route I used, it is not maintained as a footpath, and is very difficult to use. It is, however, the only way to see the upper waterfall.
- Snowdrops at Pont Felin-wern-dew, where the Cwm Fforest path starts.
- In theory, the path drops from the road here, into the fields, and along the edge of the fields. However, it is clearly very heavily overgrown, and there is a barbed wire fence lining the field, which needs to be crossed.
- The path runs along the edge of the fields, beside Cwm Fforest, which becomes increasingly steep-sided. Another fence needs to be hopped to get into the next field.
- Shortly afterwards, water can be heard falling in the valley below. For most potential visitors, this is simply too hard to approach. To get down to it, I pushed through brambles and descended this very steep slope.
- Getting upstream along the gorge was relatively easy; slippery rock and plenty of fallen branches, but nothing compared with the slope.
- The upper waterfall, around 5 or 6 metres tall.
- The path above heads into some trees, and for once, becomes visible as a path. However, it is then fenced off with more barbed wire as it approaches a new house, which is not marked on the map. In theory, the footpath passes through the litter lining their back garden, and along the field beyond, before slowly dropping to the head of the main falls.
- Fed up with stupid fences and landowners who do not honour their obligations, I descended to the stream a bit earlier than the path supposedly would. After all, these new boots are supposed to be waterproof...
- The footpaths from Cwm Dyffryn and the Fforest access track connect at a bridge over the head of the main waterfall. Although it apparently has no official name, it is commonly referred to as the Aber Fforest Waterfall or less commonly the Aberfforest Waterfall. Despite being directly under the tiny Fforest village, the name refers to the bay downstream of Fforest. The waterfall is around 8 metres tall in total, with a single drop of about 6 metres.
- Just below the waterfall is the main path down to the bay.
- Aber Fforest bay.
- Limekiln used for preparing the seaweed for use as gunpowder.
- Oystercatchers. There are also choughs here, if you are lucky enough to see them.