Northern Roundup 2010
Public Toilet Falls, Pistyll Henfynachlog, Rhaeadr Llechweddfwyalchen, Pistyll Gwyn (yet another one), Pistyll y Pandy, Cyfyng Falls, Swallow Falls, Fairy Falls, Rhaeadr y Bedd, Afon Ceiriog. And bonus Eglwyseg Mountain.
Public Toilet Falls
Famous among canoeists (perhaps you can tell where this is going), the falls are located on the Afon Mawddach at Ganllwyd. The Ganllwyd car park, right beside the mouth of the Afon Gamlan, has a footpath at the back, leading directly to the river.
Located on the Afon Eiddon, a little upstream from Rhydymain, near Dolgellau. There are various places to park along the small lane running through the village, with the walk starting at the lane's bridge over the Eiddon.
- Paths on either side of the Eiddon head upstream. We started on the right bank. Note that the maps of this area are badly outdated, and lacking essential details. Take the gate beside the house on the right, then head up to the right to a fenced field. Follow the fence up to the start of the forest. Stay above the right edge of the forest, climbing up through fields.
- Back of the snow-capped Aranau mountain range, with a derelict farm at Ty-mawr.
- Craig y Benglog, the cliffs overlooking the Eiddon. Stay near the top of the trees, through the gate, and beside a farm.
- The Cadair Idris range, covered with cloud, as usual.
- Eyes peering over the wall. "Have you got some food?".
- A little way past the farm, a path drops down to the left, into the Allt y Benglog nature reserve.
- Eiddon cascades.
- The easiest way upstream is to follow the path over the bridge until it reaches some more fields, then follow an unofficial path along the bottom edge of those fields to the right, which leads after a few fields to the head of the fall. We stayed in the nature reserve, which was far harder, and had no path. A gorge soon develops (the map shows nothing), forcing some awkward little ascents above it.
- Pistyll Henfynachlog, meaning the spout waterfall of the old monastery. It is around 7 metres tall, and very graceful, dropping into the head of the gorge. In flood there can be another branch just beyond it, and in high flood, another waterfall can appear where the camera is.
- Follow the path back along the fields, and up to the Ty-cerig farm. The map fails to show some of the old walls here, so try to work it out as best you can. From the farm, head down over fields towards Rhydymain.
- Snow lump in a field below the farm, seen in front of Pen y Brynfforchog (685 metres).
- After crossing a small stream, drop down through a small forest to the left, eventually arriving back at the village.
Located on the northern edge of the Aranau, at Rhosdylluan, between Dolgellau and Bala. At Pont Rhyd-sarn on the A494, take the narrow lane heading south towards the Aranau. It passes a couple of farms before splitting at the Dwrnudon farm. Take the left branch, which splits again with a farm access track on the right and a dirt track on the left. Take the dirt track, which has a parking area on the left just after its start.
- The previous farm access track, leading to the Cwm onen farm, is a concessionary footpath, perfectly placed for access to more important routes up to the Aranau. Follow it to the first corner.
- Follow the concessionary footpath as it continues ahead, towards the valley. It then runs along above the valley, eventually reaching the open countryside.
- Looking back to Creigiau Llwyn-gwern, at the edge of the Arenigau range.
- The upper part of the valley, ending at the Pen y Rhaeadr crags. The main waterfall is in the middle of this picture, and takes a little work to get down to, through the gorse.
- Rhaeadr Llechweddfwyalchen, a whopping 4 metres of "meh". Its name means the waterfall of the blackbird hillside. In summer it will almost disappear completely.
- Small fall on an inlet stream.
- Below the crags is a small gorge, containing these little cascades.
- Not ugly, but not worth the effort.
Pistyll Gwyn, Nant-hir
Near the southwestern edge of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), narrow lanes reach the tiny village of Parc, and from there, one of the lanes leads out onto Maestron, on the flanks of Arenig Fawr. A few hundred metres before it reaches the Blaen-y-cwm-isaf farm, a footpath (with limited parking space) starts out towards Arenig Fawr. This is the start point for the walk.
Pistyll y Pandy
Located on the Afon Conwy, just upstream of the village of Ysbyty Ifan. There is some parking space on the side of a lane leading off the B4407, and the waterfall is located on the river directly below the main road at the junction with the lane, under the Pandy Uchaf farm. It cannot be seen from the road, and is hidden in a small woodland, which also makes access very difficult.
Cyfyng Falls and Swallow Falls
These are both located on the Afon Llugwy, not far upstream from Betws-y-Coed. Swallow Falls is a tourist attraction, requiring a fee to access the site. Cyfyng Falls is located upstream, at the bottom end of Capel Curig, and is visible from the road. Both have parking space directly above them, on the side of the A5. For comparison, you may wish to view the pictures from our previous visit to Swallow Falls in flood.
- Pont-Cyfyng, sitting over the top of the falls.
- The upper and tallest of the Cyfyng Falls, at about 4.5 metres. It is obscured from the main road, but may be better seen from the road passing over the bridge. A local tourist brochure disagrees with the OS map, and calls the waterfalls Rhaeadr Llugwy or Llugwy Falls (some sources, particularly newspapers, use the mis-spelling "Lligwy Falls" - note that even in English, the river name should be spelled Llugwy). The OS map seems to be the more authoritative source.
- Waterfalls below.
- And the final waterfall. Note the water flowing through the walls of a scour, before being ejected sideways through a spout.
- At the Swallow Falls a little downstream. This is the stereotypical view of this very graceful waterfall. This upper bench is about 10 metres high, with the total height of the three stages being around 30 metres.
- Side view of the waterfall, for direct comparison with the flood picture.
- The middle stage, looking far less impressive than last time.
- Top of the final cascades, for comparison with the flood picture.
- The final cascades.
Located in Trefriw, in the Conwy Valley. The village has a parking area near the cenotaph. The route is marked with waymarks, listed as route 4. The entire walk follows the Fairy Glen (not to be confused with the gorge bearing the same name a little upstream along the Afon Conwy), with the main waterfall being the top-most one. Its Welsh name, Rhaeadr y Tylwyth Teg, literally means the waterfall of the beautiful tribe; beautiful tribe referring to fairies. The waterfall should be visited in winter, as the nearby mill can take most of the water in summer.
- The village is dominated by the woolen mill, now run only as an attraction. The Afon Crafnant runs down the side of the mill. Cross the river, heading away from the mill, and take the first left, steeply upwards.
- Take a path on the left, which then follows the river, with this view of the first waterfall.
- Marred by the ugly black pipe that takes the water to the mill, this small waterfall is next.
- A little upstream is this waterfall, located under a footbridge.
- Next is the main tiered Fairy Falls waterfall. It is around 6 metres high in total. Fom here, the path leads up past the bridge to a lane, where to the right is the way back to the start.
- We took a quick detour up to the left, to the weir that feeds the mill.
- Top of the weir, almost like a Victorian maze.
Rhaeadr y Bedd
Located at the outflow from the Aled Isaf reservoir, in the Mynydd Hiraethog range, between Denbigh and Betws-y-Coed. This was previously visited in summer, when the reservoir failed to overflow, so the main waterfall was dry.
The Afon Ceiriog winds its way to the River Dee, beginning at the edge of the Berwyn mountain range. The route starts at the Swch-cae-rhiw farm, near Pentre, just a few km from Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. This is the last point where a road runs alongside the Afon Ceiriog.
The route to the waterfalls is not easy, as it has no proper path. Although you could potentially follow the nearest path and drop down to the waterfalls, it spoils the surprise, and still requires you to walk off-trail. There is also an alternative path running on the opposite bank, which links up with other paths in the area. However, that does not get the best views. The route that we took is probably the best for viewing the waterfalls. To extend it, you could pick up any of the other paths, and perhaps even continue onto the Berwyn ridge, or over to Cynwyd, which has its own waterfalls.
- Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.
- Swch-cae-rhiw. The route follows the track up through the farm, which seems more like a car graveyard.
- When the track breaks into open countryside at the far side of the small forest, the route drops down a little to pick up the sheep tracks heading up the steep-sided valley. These are then used to slowly descend to the river.
- Small cascade in the river.
- The first waterfall marked on the map is not much of a waterfall at all, but for those who can only follow proper paths, it is the only one that is visible.
- The crags then signify the first waterfall, which is around 8 metres tall. The undercut looks good, but the spray and smaller strands falling into the undercut mean it cannot be walked behind, unfortunately.
- The crags are fenced off. Follow the fence up to the top of the crags, then stay at the top of the fence as it heads upstream over a small gorge.
- A hunting peregrine. Appeared from over the mountains, and disappeared over some others.
- The beautiful display of the next two waterfalls. They are about 8 metres and 4 metres tall respectively.
- The upper one has a slab that is a little tricky to get onto, and harder to walk down, as it is very slippery, and has a muddy grass covering in places that is barely holding onto the rock.
- But hey, you can walk behind it. There's not very much space back there, but it's enough to get much further behind than this picture shows.
- Some smaller cascades below the waterfalls.
- Standing stones near the river.
- Shelf waterfall a little further upstream.
- Inspecting the undercut. There is a good undercut on this one, but without anywhere to stand - the water is quite deep where you would want to stand. Even with an umbrella, this one is not good enough for walking behind. Oh well.
- One last waterfall, and that's it. It's about 4 or 5 metres tall, and fairly pretty. Beyond here, the river becomes much more placid.
- Moel Fferna (630 metres), an outlier of the Berwyn, and source of the Afon Ceiriog.
- The Ceiriog Valley seen from the top of the crags above the farm. The ridge on the right leads up to the main Berwyn ridge.
- The best of the Berwyn. From left to right on the main ridge are Moel Sych (827 metres), Cadair Berwyn New Top (830 metres), Cadair Berwyn (827 metres), a long unnamed bump, and Cadair Bronwen (785 metres). In front of the unnamed bump is Tomle (742 metres).
Overlooking the popular tourist destination of Llangollen at the edge of the Ruabon Moors, the Eglwyseg Escarpment is one of the most dramatic limestone outcrops in Wales. Definitely worth a visit when in the area.
- The Dee at the start of the Vale of Llangollen.
- Llangollen, with Castell Dinas Bran sitting on the conical hill.
- Valle Crucis Abbey.
- Self-imposed sheep pen.
- The Eglwyseg Escarpment. The tops sit as much as 300 metres above the valley.
- World's End, at the end of the escarpment.
- View over World's End to Cyrn-y-Brain (565 metres).
- The southern buttresses of the Eglwyseg Escarpment.
- The first gully.
- Craig Arthur, the first of the four big buttresses.
- Second gully.
- Crags on the third buttress, showing the limestone beds.
- The northern buttresses.
- Third gully, with an old lime kiln. This sits above Bryn Goleu, where a path then ascends to the top of the gully.
- Stepped crags on the fourth buttress.
- Cascades on the gully stream. The upper one is ... ooooh .... 2 metres high.
- Top of the gully.
- At the top, the plant growth clearly shows the boundaries between the different limestone beds.
- Path towards the 511 metre summit, once again showing the boundaries.
- There is no good or direct path to the summit, and getting there involved forging a path through the heather. This gets substantially harder at the boundary with the overlying sandstone, where the ground is peppered with shakeholes hidden by the deep heather.
- View of the Llantysilio Mountain group which tops out at the 550 metre Moel Morfydd, and the Maesyrychen Mountain group which tops out at the 577 metre Moel y Gamelin.
- View to Ruabon. Wrexham should also be visible to the left, but it has disappeared into a hailstorm that quickly reached us.
- Summit of Eglwyseg Mountain, which has a very poor path that goes in the wrong direction for us.
- Heading down towards the top of World's End, the heather became ridiculouly deep, and a huge waste of energy. Five black grouse shot out of it at one point, but refused to be photographed.
- Craig y Forwyn over World's End.
- Fairy rings of lichen.
- Descending World's End.
- World's End Cave, a very short fragment containing a stream, with an upstream sump. This is one of very few caves in this massive amount of limestone. There must be more hiding under here.
- Entrance to a mine level below the cave.
- Seen in context, also showing a mine shaft above it.
- Tide mark in the mine level. The stream runs through the end of the level.
- Resurgence below the mine.
- A blind passage - another mine perhaps?.
- Back at the crags at World's End.
- Remains of a lime kiln.
- The Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee. This is a wide and distinctive weir, less than a metre high, used to maintain the water level in the Llangollen Canal.
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a popular attraction and a UNESCO World heritage site, built in 1805. It is upto 38 metres high, and only has a fence on the tow-path side. The other side, which sits right beside the boats, is a sheer drop.
- The nearby Cefn Viaduct, 45 metres high, built in 1848.