Northern Waterfalls Round III
Ffrwd Ferin/Rhaeadr Myherin, Nant Chwarelmelyn, Rhaeadr Nantcol, Pistyll Dû, Pistyll Gwyn, Amarch Fall, Dolgoch Falls, Llam Lloi, Nant y Cafn Falls, Pistyll y Gyfyng, Water Break-its-neck. Picking up some stragglers.
Most of these are not particularly long walks, as the intention was to visit as many as possible within just one weekend. Therefore, the chosen routes are always the shortest possible routes to the waterfalls. You may want to come up with more imaginative routes that take in more sights.
Ffrwd Ferin/Rhaeadr Myherin and Nant Chwarelmelyn
The name "Ffrwd Ferin" is used on the 1:10'000 scale maps, but the waterfall is better known by the name "Rhaeadr Myherin".
- Weather about as bad as it gets, as we started through Fagwr Fawr (near Dyffryn Castell, on the A44 near Ponterwyd), towards the slopes of Lluest yr Ochr and Y Glog. Gale force winds, and low rainclouds. We had hoped to use the forestry tracks to cut walking distance, but access is not permitted.
- Small waterfall on Nant Rhys.
- The path begins easily enough, but deteriorates after passing over a stile. From there, we just had to try to follow the most appropriate sheep track until we saw the first of the Llynnoedd Ieuan lakes looming out of the fog. Really, that's a lake there. The wind at the edge of the ridge was strong enough to knock us off our feet, needing a lot of effort to remain upright and progress towards the edge on our return. We estimated it at 60 MPH (27 m/s), with 70 MPH (31 m/s) gusts. Absolutely ridiculous, but easy to see why they chose to build the Cefn Croes wind farm up here.
- After a long trudge along very soggy paths, we reached the head of Ffrwd Ferin/Rhaeadr Myherin, where all remnants of path finally died out. To get this view, I had to skirt the edge of the chasm, and make my way through the trees (some of which were in the process of being uprooted by the wind), then descend a really unpleasantly steep ridge. Most visitors will not be able to get a view this good. This waterfall totals 70 metres high, in four plunge falls, a 40 metre horsetail, and a cascade. For scale, the smallest trees at the top are still taller than a human.
- After the river makes its way around the ridge I was on, it drops down a long, continuous cascade, dropping 30 metres. Below that are a few smaller cascades, not worthy of the effort to reach them, but they may be visible from the path and forestry tracks that run at the bottom of the chasm.
- On the far side of the chasm, Nant Chwarelmelyn cascades down about 15 metres of falls to join the Afon Myherin (later called the Merin, and then the Mynach). Some distance beyond that is the Rhuddnant Gorge, which also seems to contain some reasonably big waterfalls - these will be picked up on a later visit, as there is no easy route from here (though there are some paths leading back up from the bottom of this chasm, to the forestry tracks which lead to the Rhuddnant).
A revisit to pick up the waterfalls I missed in "Round II". Again, I wish to reiterate that the official car park belonging to the campsite at the bottom of the gorge is overpriced, and denies access before 10:00. The best approach for proper walkers is to park just after the nearby village of Cefncymerau Uchaf, and take the path over open access land to the top-most cascades, then continue downstream to the head of the gorge. These pictures are shown in the opposite direction.
- The cascade at the lower end of the gorge. The open access land ends just downstream of this, after the path descends to this viewpoint.
- First of the Rhaeadr Nantcol waterfalls. The gorge is about 12 metres deep here (quoted as 15 metres, to make it sound more dramatic), and the waterfall is about 3 metres tall. It is barely visible from the path, but earlier this year, two people died while apparently trying to get a view from the top of the gorge. Be careful.
- Cascades in the gorge. These are not visible from the gorge top.
- Upper cascades, visible from the top, by scrambling carefully down the gorge.
- The top-most waterfall, the most graceful of all, and visible from the path. The total height of this set is about 5 metres. There are further cascades upstream, covered in "Round II".
- Although the map shows a concessionary path on the easier side of the gorge, and we got to it by fording the river and scrambling the gorge sides, we later found that access permission had been revoked. In doing this, they have made it far more dangerous for normal visitors to try properly viewing the Nantcol waterfalls, and substantially reduced the potental for good views. Guess you will have to be satisfied with these pictures then.
- Moody skies and approaching rainstorm over Tremadog Bay at Morfa Harlech.
Pistyll Gwyn, Nant Llyn-du
- Heading to Graigddu-isaf in the forests at Crawcwellt in the Rhinogydd range. Most of the range can be seen from here; Diffwys (750 metres), Crib-y-rhiw (670 metres), Y Llethr (756 metres), Rhinog Fach (712 metres), Rhinog Fawr (720 metres), then a long bumpy ridge which manages to obtain two mountain summits near its far end, at Moel Ysgyfarnogod (623 metres) and Foel Penolau (614 metres).
- From the car park, walk directly to the farm along a track then boggy path. Turn left on a dirt track, then turn right onto a path that skirts the edge of their property, to follow a stream on the other side. This leads up to the 4 metre Pistyll Gwyn, a silly name meaning "white waterspout", shared with several other waterfalls in this area. It is also referred to as "Rhaeadr y Pistyll" on the route signs, which is even more silly, meaning "the waterspout waterfall".
- Immediately upstream is a smaller cascade. The path then continues to the Roman Steps, one of the popular routes onto the Rhinogydd.
Dolgoch Falls (and Amarch Fall)
A revisit to pick up the upper waterfalls I missed in "Round II".
- Amarch Fall, seen from the far side of the Tal-y-llyn Lake. Though it seems to create a substantial amount of white in Cwm Amarch, it's less than 10 metres tall.
- Misty lighting in the Dysynni valley.
- Beautiful light at Dolgoch.
- Yellow and black caterpillar on the path. I don't stand a chance of identifying it.
- One of the upper parts of Rhaeadr Uchaf at Dolgoch Falls, lying immediately above the part I reached on the last trip. It is also around 8 metres tall.
- Waterfall immediately above that last one. There is a lovely platform that would make it easy to take better pictures of this, but it is on the far side of the river, and is too difficult to reach, even for me.
- Top cascade of Rhaeadr Uchaf. In total, the waterfalls and cascades of Rhaeadr Uchaf add up to just over 25 metres high, but it is not possible to get into a position from where they can all be seen at the same time.
- Cascade and bridge at the top of the main path.
- The top waterfalls just upstream of the bridge.
- Top waterfall. A path continues beyond this, to the left, but it now becomes a proper countryside path, and is not as easy as those that precede it.
- Top cascade, out in the open countryside.
- On the right side of the river, a tributary stream plunges down 65 metres of waterfalls. These are best seen by walking up a path on the left side of the river until they can be properly seen on the far side.
- Lower cascades on the tributary.
- We wasted some time climbing up to check if we could walk behind one of the upper waterfalls, but it turned out to splash on a tiny ledge instead.
- Looking down the Dol-goch valley towards the trundling end of the Cadair Idris ridge.
- Forest in the Dol-goch gorge.
- Haunting view of the moon over the trees of Coed Dol-gun-uchaf. It looks like a scene from a Dracula film. I assure you that this is a natural light picture, and I have performed absolutely no colour tweaks or modifications to the lighting.
Llam Lloi and Nant y Cafn Falls
- Superb light on Pen Foel-y-fridd (514 metres), above Llanymawddwy, where I started, taking a concessionary footpath onto the open access land.
- Distant view of Pistyll Gwyn on the Afon Pumryd (previously covered in "Round II"), now with plenty of water after the recent rain.
- The "Tap Nyth-yr-eryr" (eagle's nest) ridge on Wenallt.
- Rainbow over Mawddwy, with Pen Foel-y-fridd and Pistyll Gwyn.
- Decay of a derelict farm.
- Cwm Pen-y-gelli. Llam Lloi can be seen as the tree-filled gully at the end, and should contain waterfalls for 100 metres of its height, according to the map. Looked promising on paper, and its name, translating to "calf leaps" did make it sound like leaping waterfalls.
- Cascades in Cwm Pen-y-gelli.
- The bottom of the Llam Lloi. These do not deserve to be called "waterfalls", but the map shows them as if they are.
- Llam Lloi begins as a very narrow cleft, extremely hard to navigate. There are some tiny water chutes in there, but not enough to be called a waterfall. This is the sort of tumbling stream that I intentionally ignore in the listings, seen here in high summer water conditions.
- Argh! Why did I waste my time with this? The cleft became increasingly hard to navigate, with a couple more little chutes. The sides were vertical for about 10 metres above the stream, and close to vertical above that. I was climbing here on crumbling earth, held in place by bracken. The sheep tracks quickly ran out, and it was getting quite dangerous.
- Tumbling cascades.
- I was forced out of the cleft onto the slopes above. The going was not much easier, with poor quality rock, and nothing but gorse and heather as handholds.
- The upper "waterfalls" are nothing of the sort.
- By now, the slope got beyond ridiculous. I climbed to the crest at top of this picture. Beyond there, the bottom levelled out a bit, signifying the top of the gully, while the sides - the only way on - went from heather to gorse, and became more rocky. Not happy about the idea of having to use gorse as the only handholds, I turned back. The miserable cascades in the stream did not deserve this attention anyway. I'm outta here!
- Light on Gwaun Lydan (632 metres).
- Light on Graig Tŷ-nant and Wenallt.
- Mole in Cwm Pen-y-gelli. I would say that this was a lucky shot, but the poor thing was in the process of dying after apparently being attacked by a cat, so perhaps it was more of an unlucky shot.
- Autumn leaves at Llanymawddwy.
- Just a little way up the road is this view of the impressive waterfalls on Nant y Cafn. These add up to 130 metres high, with the tallest sections being 40 metres, 24 metres and 45 metres respectively. Note the sheep for scale.
- Annoyingly clouded view of the Aranau.
- View from Lake Vyrnwy's dam as we head to the next waterfalls.
Pistyll y Gyfyng and Pistyll Rhaeadr
- Craig Rhiwarth, in the Tanat Valley.
- This is a failed attempt to see a nearby waterfall. The route starts at the church car park in Pennant Melangell, then takes a path on the southern side of the valley, heading to Tyn-y-cablyd. This is the view to the end of the Cwm Pennant valley, taken from a point where the map and the signposts disagree about where the rights of way are - seems someone does not want walkers to head to Tyn-y-cablyd.
- Pistyll Blaen-y-cwm, the 107 metre (30 metre single drop) waterfall that was visited in "Round II", now with much better lighting, but a slightly more awkward angle.
- Male pheasant, one of about 3 gazillion that seem to live in this valley.
- Before the path reaches Tyn-y-cablyd, a gate bars the way along the final part, marking it as a private garden, and the rights of way officially revoked. Ouch. The nearby open access land is tantalisingly close (without any convenient ways onto it), but the waterfall is not visible from there. The farm seems to have been converted into a holiday village, and public access is denied. I tried to obtain permission to visit the waterfall, but failed to locate any owners. Like much of this valley, there is a very unwelcome atmosphere though, like nobody wants outsiders to see what is there.
- These anonymously donated pictures, presumably taken before access was revoked in 2004, or perhaps by a visitor to the holiday village, appear to show the stream at the farm. They do not show the waterfall. The waterfall will be properly visited in a much later gallery.
- A group of female pheasants trying to run away from the photographer.
- A totally rotten tree (how is that still standing?) at Pwlliago, a tiny cluster of farms in Cwm Llêch, where we started our next walk, heading up the valley along the Pererindod Melangell Walk. There is no official parking, but the local farmer did not seem to mind us parking there - a pleasant surprise in this area.
- Looking up Cwm Llêch. We follow the footpath along a forestry track to the right of this derelict house. A large rock outcrop can be seen near the end of the valley. The next waterfall is tucked in a cleft on the left side of it.
- Flock of pheasants. These birds are incredibly stupid, running away along the track, trying to hide, but failing miserably. They locate the worst hiding places, then decide they are not good enough, so they run a little further, and repeat the process, again and again. Hardly ever do they think that it would be a good idea to head sideways into the shelter of the trees.
- And then, once they do have a good hiding place, they jump out and fly around as soon as you are close, making a stupid noise to attract your attention. If they just shut up and stay still, their camouflage might actually be able to serve its purpose. They really suck at this game - no wonder they were hunted so extensively.
- Once near the waterfall, there is a good amount of noise from it, but it is completely obscured from the track. It runs to the right of the rocks in this picture. Even in winter, there will be too many trees in the way.
- From the bottom of the valley, it is possible to see just a small part of the waterfall - the second section from the top - but even this is not good enough. The only way to see it properly is to fight upstream to it from the bottom of the valley.
- A small cascade, responsible for most of the noise. This also gives a nice idea of the terrain and foliage.
- At last, the bottom spout of Pistyll y Gyfyng appears through the trees. This one is about 2 metres tall, and requires a very difficult scramble (more like caving on slimy rocks) to get above it. Appropriately, its name translates to "The Narrow/Difficult Waterspout".
- Above is the main spout of Pistyll y Gyfyng. It's about 8-10 metres tall, and quite pretty. Climbing above this was ... er ... stupid; hanging onto saplings and heather.
- Upper part of the waterfall. There is also an overflow channel on the left, which I used to get higher, using only heather for holds, and having deep moss as a crash mat.
- Perched on a tiny ledge, the top waterfall became visible. In total, the height of the waterfalls was only a little over 20 metres, but it was the hardest won 20 metres. Getting back over to the track then required a small scramble over the other rock outcrop. I'd not recommend this route to anyone, but hey, the waterfall is here if you are a nutter like me. There are also some small cascades further upstream, which may be visible from the track. None are very big, however.
- A couple of valleys over is Pistyll Rhaeadr. A revisit helped confirm the estimated height of the upper drop as only about 40 metres. So how can it possibly be 73 metres in total, given that the bottom is only about 10 metres?
- Simple! This cascade, the one above it, and one in the river above the main waterfall are also included in the overall height. That's pushing the limits somewhat, but it is commonly accepted in this case, so I shall not argue too much.
Pistyll Cablyd will be properly covered in a later gallery.
- The flanks of Great Rhos (660 metres), the tallest point in the Radnor Forest range. It looks and feels like a small hill.
- A dirt track directly off the A44 near New Radnor leads to a parking area in the Black Brook valley. From there, an obvious track leads to the start of the ravine.
- Being the only significant waterfall in the area, and having a very carefully laid path, this attracts a lot of attention - far too much, perhaps. You may have to queue for your picture.
- Water Break-its-neck. I feel that maybe I did this 10 metre waterfall an injustice by visiting it in low water conditions, since it turns into a beautiful white cascade in spate. However, I had figured the rain would have altered it - seems Radnor managed to avoid it all.
- The edge of Aberedw Hill (451 metres) above Builth Wells.
- Mynydd Troed (609 metres), the edge of the Black Mountains, and the edge of South Wales.
- The end of the Cefn Cwm Llwch ridge. The two main buttresses are Allt Du and Twyn Cil-rhew, with the ridge looking like a peak between them. In the background is Pen y Fan (886 metres).