North Brecon Beacons Waterfalls 2009
Forgotten but not lost.
There are several parts of the Brecon Beacons national park that are well known for their waterfalls, in particular Waterfall Country at the south of Fforest Fawr, and Blaen-y-Glyn in the north of the Brecon Beacons range. There are more in the Clydach Gorge in the east, and plenty of isolated smaller waterfalls on the mountain slopes and around their edges. I found a book listing the locations of a few more significant ones, and noticed a few more that looked promising in areas I had not looked before.
This was a pair of trips done in a single day, to visit one set from the book, and one promising set in a frequented part of the park, that gets ignored by most visitors. They walk close, but rarely close enough.
- Map of the Brecon Beacons National Park, showing the locations of the various mountains and ranges.
- The first set lie in the lower Afon Llia valley, just before it joins the Afon Dringarth to become the Afon Mellte and immediately sinks before becoming the dry valley passing through Ystradfellte, on the way to Porth yr Ogof, and the Four Waterfalls. The book says to park at the roadside at the Aber-llia farm, and take the third gate up the road, by some white railings. The farmers own the land, and were happy to allow access, as long as we did not leave any litter, or take any dogs which might disturb the sheep on the farm. Both fine by us.
- The farmers also pointed us at a better access point. A couple of hundred metres further along the road from the white railings is another gate (after the road has levelled out), and a fence there leads immediately down to the top of the waterfall. It's not very visible from this direction, but can be identified by its sound, and its location just downstream of the major corner in the river.
- The long straight section of the Afon Llia, and the corner.
- Getting a good view of the waterfall requires a descent to the river a little downstream, fording it, then heading up the other side back to the waterfall. Oh, and by the way, it's very slippery. And trying to protect small humans can end up with you (or me...) sitting in the river.
- The main Afon Llia waterfall, which does not seem to have a name, though it certainly deserves one, being a good 5.5 metres tall. It's quite difficult to photograph, being north-facing, and having few useful objects which can be used to give an idea of scale. But I do like the end result, even though it does look a lot shorter than it actually is.
- A little downstream is a 1 metre cascade into the Dog Pool (name as given by the helpful farmers). Despite its name, dogs are not welcome here.
- A little further upstream is an official carpark at the edge of some forestry, with a ford and weir, and a bridge marked as part of the Beacons Way.
- 200 metres upstream (best reached by walking up the road) is a small tributary stream with several small cascades - typical for such small stream cascades, rarely interesting in low water conditions.
- The largest cascade is about 4 metres tall.
- Maen Llia, a bronze age (3000-4000 years old) standing stone, in front of Fan Dringarth (617 metres) and Fan Llia (632 metres). From the far side, these look like separate summits, but Fan Dringarth is just a rise on the Fan Llia ridge, and is not a mountain in its own right.
- The northern scarp of Fan Gyhirych (725 metres).
- Trees in Cwm Llwch (a long way away from where we were before).
- Cwm Llwch is the northern glacial valley, headed by the twin peaks of Pen y Fan (886 metres) and Corn Du (873 metres), the two tallest mountains in South Wales, in the main Brecon Beacons range. They rise about 600 metres above the car park at the base of the Cwm Llwch valley, and another 150 metres above the base of the Usk valley.
- A large buttress on Craig Cwm Llwch, right above the corrie lake Llyn Cwm Llwch.
- The main set of waterfalls is visible from an early part of the path, but this is about as much as most visitors will see, due to the lure of those mountain peaks. There is a small path leading past them, from the top of the fenced section.
- Cascades on Nant Cwm Llwch, the stream flowing from Llyn Cwm Llwch.
- The waterfall on Nant Cwm Llwch. It's around 10 metres high, and really needs more rain to become interesting.
- The next stream along is interesting even in low water, and is a series of cascades leading from the base of the scarps, down to below the path. It doesn't seem to have any official name.
- The top waterfall.
- Second waterfall.
- Despite appearences, the next waterfall is actually the tallest of the ones above the path, at 5 metres. Right now it looks clumsy, but probably fills out well in higher water.
- A graceful cascading waterfall.
- Double waterfall.
- Cascade just above the path.
- Just below the path is a 3 metre waterfall.
- Immediately afterwards, it plunges down two waterfalls, 12 and 10 metres high. The amount of tree cover causes the upper, larger one to be invisible for half of the year.
- Detail of the lowest waterfall, a steep and graceful cascade.