A tiny nature reserve near Talgarth, at the North edge of the Black Mountains, in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Pwll-y-Wrach local nature reserve and SSSI is fairly easy to find, just south of Talgarth, right near the Black Mountains Business Park. There is a tiny car park (space for 3-4 cars) at grid ref SO 1619 3280. From there, there are two paths, one gently sloping for disabled access, and one heading down steps. Take the steps route, turn left on the path at the bottom, and follow the gentle slope down to near the River Ennig. A small side path heads off to the right at this point. Remember it.
The weather had been immaculate blue skies for 2 solid weeks, but for the last 24 hours, heavy rain had been trying to top up the waterfalls. We had been through extremely heavy rain on the way up to and through the national park, but on the north side of the peaks, there was barely anything, except the odd sprinkling from trees. No flooding waterfalls today then.
- Map of the Brecon Beacons National Park, showing the locations of the various mountains and ranges.
- A little further upstream is the Lower Waterfall (yeah, that's what they call it) - better named the Pwll-y-Wrach Lower Waterfall, to distinguish it from all the other lower waterfalls. It's about 3 metres tall, and like most of the river, shows signs of extreme flooding. In spate, it's enough to carry entire trees downstream - don't underestimate it.
- Upstream, the sloping path joins, and passes this tiny cascade, and a small weir.
- Just upstream is the main Pwll-y-Wrach Waterfall (meaning; the Witch's Pool). So many pictures have been published of this, and they all suck. Every one of them makes it look just 2 metres tall, trees or no trees. Try this picture instead, with a human for scale - it's easily 6 metres of very pretty double waterfall.
- Just upstream, the nature reserve ends (but the SSSI continues). The river continues with a small cascade from a shelf, which splits the flow between the two main waterfalls.
- A little further upstream is this set of cascades. I tried to take a long exposure, and the black skies made it easy to get 15 seconds or more, but the trees refused to stay still for longer than 2 seconds. The end result of the water was about the same anyway.
- Go back to that path I told you to remember, and use it to ford the river and pick up a small path on the other side (out of the reserve, but still in the SSSI), heading downstream. This swings left and heads uphill. A little way up, take a small path down on the right, to the bank of the smaller stream; Cwm Trappi. The path here is pretty poor, and you need to regularly leave it and walk up the stream banks to get to the best viewpoints.
- Cwm Trappi's Lower Waterfall. Like most waterfalls on this stream, it's between 3 and 4 metres tall, and again shows signs of severe flooding.
- The path heads upstream to another waterfall, with a footbridge over it (wonder where that goes...). Neither the waterfall nor the bridge appear on the 1:25'000 or 1:10'000 maps. Follow the path up to the left until you can see something barely worthy of the name 'path' heading right, which provides the easiest way upstream. It sucks, but whatever.
- The next point of interest is a small cascade, though it's not really worthy of much attention, especially given how difficult it is to get down to the stream to see it. The map makers ignored it.
- Quite a bit further upstream is the top waterfall, which is shown on the map. It's tough to reach, but the lighting, moss, ferns and atmosphere were a worthy reward. A quick scout upstream showed no further waterfalls. There may be something a long way further up, but I'd had enough by now.
- Returning back through the Tarell valley (the northern side of the pass separating the Brecon Beacons and Fforest Fawr), the rain was pelting down, and causing the streams to fill to bursting, covering Craig y Fro with waterfalls. Normally just a trickle in summer, these in particular look great in winter, when they often freeze. The picture needed a lot of cleaning due to the fog created by the amount of falling rain, which caused the vignetting. Not great, but better than the alternative.
- Waterfalls in a tiny, abandoned quarry.
- Craig y Fro waterfalls.
- Nant y Gerdinen Waterfall.
- The rain on the way back was impressively torrential, occasionally reducing the speed to less than half of the limit. A few housing estates in this valley were flooded as we were driving back past them. This picture is presented without any editing, to give you an idea, and was taken just after the windscreen wipers had attempted to remove the water from the screen. The speed was slow enough that this was not caused by spray, and was just due to rain hitting the windscreen. There are three cars in this picture. Really.