Secluded Falls 2009

Rarely visited, and hard to access. Only the bold and fearless need apply.

Upper Pyrddin

The Pyrddin is best known for Sgwd Gwladus and Sgwd Einion Gam. There is no way to get upstream directly from Sgwd Einion Gam, so virtually nobody tries to see the small waterfalls that lie upstream. These waterfalls are mentioned in the book as being inaccessible, after the first one. That's not true, but they are hard to reach, and get harder the further downstream you go. The northern bank is entirely open access land without a proper path. The southern bank is partly open access. The easy access point is a forestry track on the north side of the A4109, half way between Pontneddfechan and Coelbren, at grid reference SN 8757 0925. The track has a potentially locked barrier at its start, but there is a layby on the other side of the road 200 metres closer to Pontneddfechan.

Lower Sychryd

Most visitors to the area ignore this short, deep gorge and its waterfalls, opting instead for the Four Waterfalls walk in reverse. It doesn't help that the maps are completely wrong, and access to the middle section is no longer possible for normal mortals. However, it is well known by gorge walkers, and given the impressively hot weather, there was literally over a hundred of them in the overflowing car park when I arrived. No less than 4 groups of them competed with me for access to the waterfalls, but they were very polite and helpful, showing me how to get to the waterfalls while remaining dry.


These waterfalls are also mentioned in the book, with various comments about difficult access. Certainly, these waterfalls are hardly ever visited. Partly because they are overshadowed by the nearby Four Waterfalls, partly because nobody knows they are there - only one is mentioned on the map. Mainly, however, it's because there is no official access to the main waterfall to the general public. There is a water board access road to the Ystradfellte Reservoir, and several farms along it, but right where it connects to the road at Garreg-fawr (as marked on the Explorer map), it is gated and access is forbidden.

The water board own the road, and the farmers own the land. There are footpaths that get you a long way down the road (and even one that gets you to the upstream side of one of the waterfalls), and a few pull-ins that can be used for parking, but to reach the main waterfall, you will need to cross private farmland. The farmland appears to belong to the last two farms: Pen-fathor Uchaf and Pen-fathor Isaf. You will need to ask their permission - the approaches to the waterfalls are very visible from both farms; do not attempt to ignore them. They are very protective of their private land, and do not walcome random walkers seeking shortcuts to the mountains - several signs clearly state that there is no access for that purpose.

However, I was lucky enough to bump into the farmer from Pen-fathor Isaf, who said it was OK for me to visit the waterfalls, after asking what I wanted to do with them (presumably trying to prevent skinny-dipping, or transporting the waterfalls to a more accessible area), and accepting taking pictures as a valid reason for visiting. The poor guy had badly blood-stained hands from putting up barbed wire fencing ... what a thankless job. Everyone I met was very cheerful, and nobody seemed to mind the random walker covered in mud and camera gear. But please think twice before visiting. These people clearly value their privacy, and these waterfalls may not be a good enough reason to invade it.