Northern Waterfalls Round IV
Nant Gwynllyn Falls, Nant Cwm-du Falls, Nant y Gwaith Falls, Ffrwd Milwyn, Rhaeadr Peiran, Cavern Cascade, Rhuddnant Gorge Falls, Dulas Gorge Falls, Rhaeadr Ddu, Rhaeadr Wen, Rhaeadr Cynwyd. Largely completing the top half of Mid Wales.
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.
Nant Gwynllyn Falls, Nant Cwm-du Falls, Nant y Gwaith Falls, Ffrwd Milwyn
- Early mists in the Duhonw Valley.
- Nant Gwynllyn Falls. These are best seen from the minor road that passes from Rhayader to the top of the Elan Valley. Though only cascades, they manage to drop a total of 80 metres over a distance of about 300 metres, with some impressive waterslides. The weather had been bad for a few days, with plenty of rain topping up the waterfalls. This one won't look so good after dry weather.
- Awesome light over the Wye Valley. I would apologise for the lens flare, but I don't want to.
- Upper Elan Valley.
- Start of the Craig Goch reservoir. Note the rainbow on the right.
- Head of the Ystwyth Valley. The sides are around 500 metres high, and were annoyingly cloud topped, but the colours it produced made up for the clouds. The following waterfalls are all on the sides of this valley.
- Ffrwd yr Ydfran, a tumbling stream dropping about 90 metres. It does not make any sufficiently well developed waterfalls to be included on my listings, though it's nice to see, I suppose.
- Cwm y Gorlan, a neighbouring stream, dropping a similar distance, in a similar style.
- Nant Cwm-du Falls, a surprise waterfall not marked on any maps (looks a lot like Pistyll Gwyn on the Afon Pumryd). It is 60 metres tall, with the longest single drop being the 36 metre horsetail, which splits into separate strands for the last 25 metres.
- Nant y Gwaith, a large stream that drops for 100 metres over a series of waterfalls, with the biggest sections being 20 metres, 20 metres and 26 metres. The top-most of those sections is not properly visible here, but should be completely visible from the far side of the Ystwyth river. The waterfall was almost destroyed by quarrying, but the quarry stopped just far enough away to leave the main falls intact.
- A lower section of falls created by the quarrying.
- Huge tips and remains of quarry buildings.
- The map shows a waterfall on the Graig Goch crags, but it turned out to be so pathetic, it did not deserve to be mentioned.
- Downstream, the Nant Milwyn enters down a pretty set of cascades, marred by nearby bridge repair on a short road. The nearby Tynewydd farm owns the land in the valley, and very helpful owner Bryn Mor can be consulted for access to further waterfalls.
- Taking the track past the farm, the main waterfall can be heard roaring in the end of the valley. A descent without a path reaches the 8 metre top fall of Ffrwd Milwyn.
- An impressive waterslide below this is the main part of Ffrwd Milwyn, dropping about 28 metres. Take care; it is very slippery around here.
- A final small cascade drops into the plunge pool, now 40 metres below the top of the waterfalls.
- Bryn was kind enough to show me around another of his fields, where the Nant Gwndwn-gwyn cascades in to join the Nant Cae-glas.
- There may be other names used for this 15 metre waterfall, but none are official. Since he owns it, Bryn asks that the waterfall be named after himself, so this is the Bryn Mor waterfall.
- View over Cwm Ystwyth, where the next waterfalls are located.
Rhaeadr Peiran, Cavern Cascade
- This part starts in the Hafod Forest, in Cwm Ystwyth. Park in the car park by the Hafod Church, and take the path that heads along the side of it, known as the "Lady's Walk" (note that the signs in the car park point to the other end of the walk, not the end I started at). Zig-zag down through the forest along the blue-signed route, down to the waterfalls.
- Rhaeadr Peiran, a beautiful cascade. This lower section is about 8 metres tall.
- The upper spout is only about 4 metres tall, but you may notice that there appears to be space to walk behind it.
- However, the shingle bank behind it is guarded by a ferocious plunge pool, and I could not see any way to descend safely to it. It would be possible for insane gorge walkers, but not regular walkers. As a result, I did not initially include this on the list of waterfalls that can be walked behind ... until round 6.
- Path down the Nant Peiran.
- Small cascade. Just past this, the path crosses a track, with a bridge on the left.
- The stream then drops a couple of metres over this lovely waterfall, to join the Ystwyth.
- Return to the track, and cross the bridge, following it to the Pont Dolgau bridge, over the Ystwyth, where there is a small, noisy cascade upstream, and...
- The smaller Nant Gau roars down a waterfall, dropping 8 metres into the Ystwyth. On the other side of the bridge, the track splits. Turn right on another track, then take a footpath to the left (one field beyond where it is shown on the OS map), to continue up the Nant Gau, along the Gentleman's Walk. (This also continues downstream along the Ystwyth for a long way, past the Mossy Seat Falls, but they had to wait until round 6.)
- Nant Gau waterfall.
- Hermafrodite tree is having sex.
- Mushrooms on a mossed log.
- Waterfall with deep plunge pool. The fallen tree really sets the picture off nicely.
- Tributary horsetail, tallest of the waterfalls in the Hafod area, at 10 metres.
- Just before the path ends is this mined tunnel, called the Cavern or Grotto.
- Beside it is this little cascade, with a path above it leading to a viewpoint for...
- The Cavern Cascade, a 5 metre waterfall.
- The tunnel (which appears to be safe to walk through in most conditions) ends at this window into the waterfall's plunge pool. Partly this feels very cool to be in such a position, but partly it feels criminal to have dug a mine adit into a natural spectacle, just for the purpose of pleasing tourists.
Rhuddnant Gorge Falls
This walk was actually a bike ride to speed it up, as it was around 12 km in total. The main route follows the route in volume 1 of John and Anne Nuttall's guide to The Mountains of England and Wales, which is a nearly 10 km route up Pen y Garn. However, unlike the route in the book, it drops into the head of the Rhuddnant gorge, adding a significant amount onto the total distance.
- The route begins at the car park beside The Arch, a 100 year old monumental feature by the B4574 near Devil's Bridge.
- From there, follow the main forestry track from the back of the parking area past a cross roads, and stick with it as it climbs to a crest with views over the Ystwyth and Mynach valleys. It then drops a little before climbing up again to a higher crest.
- At the second crest, walk down through the trees to the left, to the top of the Craig y Ceffyl cliff, which gives this view over the Rhuddnant Gorge. It is not very long, but is about 200 metres deep at this point.
- A funnel of clouds at the crest.
- One of the 100 metre tall wind turbines that makes up the Cefn Croes wind farm, which dominates this hillside.
- "Access is forbidden for unauthorized people!" and "Enter at own risk! The manufacturer can not be held liable for personal injury and damage to property!". Wow. So, basically, even if you work for the power station, and you get injured by a fault in the turbine, it's your own fault. Yeah.
- After the first turbines, just before the track crosses a cattle grid, a track heads down on the left past a couple of turbines. It used to continue to the Nant Rhuddnant, but this is now overgrown. However, it is the easiest way down to the river, avoiding the surrounding bog. There is no path down the gorge, so don't expect this part to be too easy.
- Cascades at the head of the gorge.
- The river then plunges down 15 metres of waterfall, with the sides becoming very steep. This is the first of the main Rhuddnant Gorge Falls.
- Then a few smaller cascades.
- Then the most impressive waterfall of the Rhuddnant Gorge Falls, also around 15 metres tall. In total, the waterfalls add up to 50 metres of height.
- Downstream, the gorge continues to deepen, with the river dropping over a series of smaller cascades. A little downstream, it joins the Afon Merin to become the Mynach. The Merin begins at the Myherin whose waterfalls lie in the next gorge, at the far end of the wind farm 2 km away.
- Frog by the river.
- I tried taking the nearby footpath back to the tracks, but it turned out to be a miserable bog with no real path at all. Pushing the bike over here was not fun at all, and it certainly was not ridable.
- Returning to the main track, I took the gated track directly opposite, and followed it to the far side of Pen y Garn (610 metres), then took a path up to the top. This is the only mountain in this part of the Mid Wales ranges, with a very elaborate wind break to hide from the strong winds that whistle over this mountain.
- The nearby Pumlumon range holds the highest Mid Wales summit, Pumlumon Fawr, at 752 metres, but the weather had not cleared enough for it to appear.
- The Desert of Wales, looking towards the Elan Valley. Barren, desolate, and uninhabited.
- Red kite.
Dulas Gorge Falls, Rhaeadr Ddu, Rhaeadr Wen
- The Glaslyn Nature Reserve, at the top end of the Pumlumon range, has the worst access track I have ever encountered to reach the car park. I made it through many such deep puddles and ditches (digging drainage channels for some as I went), but was forced to give up at a particularly deep set that only an off-roader could manage. It's crazy that this has a sign post pointing cars down it - I suggest parking at the start and then using a bike or your feet.
- Foel Fadian (564 metres), one of the big hills in the reserve.
- Dominating the site is the Glaslyn lake, which drains into this massive chasm; the Dulas Gorge. At its deepest, it is about 200 metres deep. I'd like to point out that that is much deeper than Cheddar Gorge, but this one is much shorter in length, and has significantly more gently sloping sides, like most of the Mid Wales gorges.
- At the head of the gorge, the Dulas drops down a constant series of cascades, totalling about 50 metres in height. Not bad. Not brilliant, but not bad.
- On the far side of the Glaslyn lake is the Cwm Byr valley, topped by the Tarren Bwlch-gwyn crags. The nearby Nantyfyda farm provides an easier startpoint (the owners helpfully offered route advice, even though they clearly thought I was crazy for trying - I probably am, so whatever). The footpath to Rhosygarreg has been moved so the first two fields are now skirted by the nearby tracks. The Rhosygarreg paths are almost obliterated, and the farm has some particularly unpleasant dogs which you will need to watch out for.
- The deep cleft of Rhaeadr Ddu ("Black Waterfall") leaves an obvious dent in the scarp. The name suggests a waterfall, and the map shows a stream, but there is nothing to see. It turns out that the name is the name of the stream itself, and not a waterfall.
- From the path beyond Nantyfyda, the second stream can be seen, with its own ravine and cascades, known as Rhaeadr Wen ("White Waterfall"). The biggest continuous section of cascades is only about 30 metres, but in any case, it is just a tumbling stream, and not proper waterfalls. The ravine is more impressive than the cascades. It turns out that the name is once again the name of the stream itself, and not a waterfall.
- In Rounds I to III, I'd managed to miss this semi-important set of waterfalls in North Wales. Feeling the list was incomplete, I headed for the lane that runs beside the Afon Trystion reservoir from Cynwyd near Bala. Just downstream is a footpath crossing the river, where a path then heads down into the trees.
- Cascade in the river ... er ... stream.
- Upper section of Rhaeadr Cynwyd, about 5 metres tall.
- Tallest section of Rhaeadr Cynwyd, at 8 metres. Note that the maps spell it either Rayadr or Rhayadr, but not the standard Rhaeadr that people who live there will use. Other possible spellings are rhaiadr and rhayader, and you could perhaps invent combinations like rayader, raiadr, raiader, rhaiader, raeader, raeadr or rhaeader. Such fun games these map makers play - almost like Shaxspere, isn't it?
- Bottom section of the waterfall, at 6 metres tall. This is usually viewed from the nearby caravan park, whose property backs directly onto the waterfall's canyon. OK, so that's it. I have done all the waterfalls in North Wales that I care about. I may discover more later, but I think I might just say that I don't care any more.