The Rough With The Smooth 2010

Pwll Annie, Cyfarthfa Pwll Glas, Pwll-Du, Pwll Milast-fach, Llynfell Falls, Pwll-yr-Wydden, Nant y Llyn, Sgwd yr Argoed, Nant Bwch.

Pwll Annie

Pwll Annie is one of the large Fforest Fawr waterfalls, but far away from Waterfall Country, and virtually unknown. It is located right by Merthyr Tydfil, beside the A465 road to Hirwaun. The waterfall is guarded by tall, overhanging cliffs, muddy tops, and trees that barely hold onto the edges. There is no good viewpoint, and there is no proper access route. Do not expect to get a good view, and do not visit it at all if you don't have experience with these conditions. Above all, do not trust the maps for this area, which fail to show most of the hazards.

Cyfarthfa Pwll Glas

The name appears on 1:10'000 maps as Pwll Glas. This must not be confused with the better known waterfall called Blue Pool/Pwll Glas, located just 3 km upstream on the same river, at Vaynor's Pontsarn. (Whose idea was it to use the same name for two entirely different waterfalls on the same stretch of river, eh?) To distinguish between them, I refer to this one as Cyfarthfa Pwll Glas, and the better known waterfall as Pontsarn Blue Pool/Pwll Glas.

The waterfall is marked as a weir on current maps. 100 years ago, an old leat ran above it, and the maps showed a weir as being used to supply the leat. Later maps then migrated the word "weir" to the waterfall instead - perhaps accidentally. The waterfall lies right beside the Cyfarthfa industrial estate on the Taf Fechan, below Cyfarthfa Castle's lake, between Pont y Cefn and the junction with the Taf Fawr. It is easiest seen from the industrial estate's car park (accessed down a lane from the A4054), in winter, when the foliage has died back. Alternatively, the nearby football ground has some heavily overgrown paths leading to its far bank, but these are hard to find.

Pwll-Du and Pwll Milast-fach

Making up the top of the Sychryd Gorge, but separated from the main gorge by the A465, these waterfalls are virtually unknown and hardly ever visited. Pwll-Du is marked on the 1:25'000 Explorer map, but is not correctly shown as a waterfall. Pwll Milast-fach appears only on the 1:10'000 maps. The start point is the third layby on the A465 dual carriageway section from Hirwaun to Glyn-neath.

Llynfell Falls

Llynfell Falls are located inside the Dan-yr-Ogof showcave complex, and that means, unfortunately, that a rather substantial fee needs to be paid to access them. Visits are best done as part of a visit to the impressive showcave. Immediately past the ticket booth, take the small, fenced path doubling back to the left, and then follow the stepped path down through the dinosaur park exhibits.


Pwll-yr-Wydden is a large shakehole situated on the moorland above Dan-yr-Ogof. It is most easily accessed from the nearby Craig-y-Nos Castle, though there are other ways to access the same path, which are shown on the 1:25'000 Explorer maps. After wet weather (about a week of persistent rain is needed in summer - as with this visit), a small stream emerges from the outcrops above, and drops down a waterfall into the shakehole.

Nant y Llyn

Nant y Llyn is the stream draining Llyn y Fan Fawr in the Black Mountain, into the upper Tawe River. Just after Glyntawe, a narrow lane leads up the side of the Tawe towards Trecastle. After 2 km, it passes over a cattle grid, and becomes unfenced on one side. As it continues along the valley, it passes over some small bridges with stone walls. Just after the fourth of these is the parking area on the left, and Nant y Llyn is also clearly visible up to the left.

Blaengwrach and Sgwd yr Argoed

Despite their proximity to the famed Waterfall Country, these waterfalls have nothing in common with the waterfalls in that area. These waterfalls are fed only by small streams, and there are no proper paths to any of them. Getting to them easily ranks as one of the hardest routes I have done; the area was once a busy mining community, with various mining tracks, but that age has passed, and the undergrowth has taken over. Although I will give details of how to make it a little easier to get around, it still needs a lot of experience with navigating through this type of terrain. It also needs skin made from leather. I would suggest a visit in winter when the undergrowth has died back.

Be warned that the 1:25'000 Explorer maps covering the area are very badly out of date, and quite confusing. They frequently fail to show features like 20 metre cliffs, misrepresent narrow paths as dirt tracks, and do not show the path directions correctly. I will try to point out the important mistakes and give appropriate routes, but be prepared to use your own initiative.

The start point is in Blaengwrach, a village located on the side of the A465 in the Neath Valley. Head into the village, turn right at the mini-roundabout, take the next left (Heol y Felin), and park near the playground and scout hut.

Nant Bwch

At the other end of the national park, almost at the tip of the Black Mountains, there are almost no officially named waterfalls. The impressive valleys do contain many smaller waterfalls, but very few are worthy of attention. Sandwiched between Rhos Dirion and Lord Hereford's Knob is the Nant Bwch valley, which soon joins the Afon Honddu. For the short time that it runs below an impressive glacial scarp, it digs a gorge for itself, which contains one waterfall that is worth a visit.

From the A465 from Abergavenny to Hereford, take the little lane passing through Llanvihangel Crucorney, then from there, take the road towards Llantony Priory. Continue beyond it, turning sharp left to cross a narrow bridge, to eventually reach Capel-y-ffin. Turn left just before the village, onto an even smaller lane. After the lane crosses the river using an Irish ford (a very low bridge that becomes a ford in flood), park at any point that seems appropriate - I would suggest parking some way after passing through a gate, as there is more space there. Our route forms a loop that follows the lane for this short stretch.

Pwll Ffrwd

The Pwll Ffrwd information has been moved into a more extensive gallery.