Southern Roundup 2010
Another few southern waterfalls and a walk along a spectacular ridge of the Black Mountain.
Sadly, due to a lens fault, I was stuck with my old camera. The light handling suffers somewhat as a result, especially when dealing with lower light, moving targets, or when pointing towards a bright light source. I apologise if this offends you, but hey, it's still better than I could get with an average compact, so...
Above Llech Sychryd
Picking up a smaller waterfall above Llech Sychryd that I missed on my last visit. The satellite images clearly showed a reasonably big drop with plenty of potential for a big undercut like Llech Sychryd, so it was worth investigating, right?
Joe's Waterfall and Fan Hir
This is accessed from the same place as Sgwd Ddu, and it would be easily possible to combine them into one route. Start either at the layby just beyond the Tawe Bridge from Glyntawe on the side of the A4067, or from the disused pub car park just beyond it.
- From the pub car park, take the Beacons Way footpath that crosses a footbridge over the river. It skirts the Ty Henry farm before breaking into open access land. Ahead, a path continues beyond some enclosures up the ridge of Fan Hir, which would provide a possible way to convert this into a more convenient loop for regular walkers. My route turned right, following the Beacons Way.
- Nant Tawe Fechan, running along the edge of Fan Hir.
- The sourthern end of Fan Hir's immense scarp, slicing off into the distance.
- Upper end of the Tawe valley, seen over Nant Tawe Fechan.
- The scarp below Allt Fach, a bump near the start of the Fan Hir ridge, has several streams running down it. The second of these is the target.
- The stream tumbles down the top of the scarp, creating about 25 metres of waterfalls, with the tallest single drop being 10 metres. It is popular with ice climbers, who gave it the name Joe's Waterfall.
- Cascades below Joe's Waterfall.
- Waterfall just below the main one, a few metres high.
- The main fall of Joe's Waterfall.
- The previous stream gully can be used with care to ascend the steep scarp. Above the scarp is this 2 metre waterfall at the top of Joe's Waterfall. If it is too difficult for you to ascend a scarp, start by heading directly up Fan Hir instead of following the Beacons Way; the waterfalls can be seen at the end of the loop instead.
- Looking along the length of Fan Hir's immense scarp. Its name means the "long peak", which is quite appropriate, as the ridge runs for nearly 4 km before joining the next mountains in the range.
- Red kite keeping me company. And reminding me how much I hated wildlife photography with the old camera.
- Clouds hitting Fan Gyhirych (725 metres) in the Fforest Fawr range, and Pen y Fan (886 metres) and Corn Du (873 metres) in the Brecon Beacons range. Within half an hour, those ranges had disappeared completely in the clouds, while I continued under an immaculate blue sky.
- The main part of the scarp. From here it looks deceptively short, but runs for over 2 km. The whole way is a continuous false top, slowly climbing to reach the actual top, which sits at the far end of the ridge, at 761 metres.
- Rock overhanging the edge of the scarp, with a large fracture where it connects to the rest of the hillside.
- What else would you do with it?
- Above 150 metres of scarp.
- Panorama of the Black Mountain. From right to left are Fan Hir, Fan Brycheiniog, Picws Du (749 metres), Cwar-du-mawr (just a bump), Waun Lefrith (677 metres), Garreg Las (635 metres), and finally Foel Fraith (602 metres) and Garreg Lwyd (616 metres) peering out of the cloud.
- Looking back from the top of Fan Hir.
- Fan Brycheiniog (802 metres) with Llyn y Fan Fawr and the Usk Reservoir.
- Ice at the outflow of the lake.
- Sounded like a pebble beach, with the water constantly rushing through the pebbles.
- Just before the lake, a poorly defined path heads along the bottom of the scarp, picking up this path running along the top of a large moraine.
- The moraine runs for well over a kilometre, rising over 20 metres above the base of the scarp.
- Iced tarn.
- Wild Welsh mountain ponies on the flanks of Fan Hir.
- Cascades in Nant Tawe Fechan.
- Inlet cascades.
- Waterfall, the tallest single drop on the stream at just over 5 metres. Nothing major.
- The main collection of waterfalls on Nant Tawe Fechan, with this set being about 9 metres tall in total.
- Last of the waterfalls.
- Light on the moss and old sheepfold.
- Back at the end of the scarp, the other streams near Joe's Waterfall also have some small drops, but they're certainly not as impressive as Joe's.
- The biggest of its falls is about 5 metres, seen here in quite high flow.
- Falls near the top of the stream. They look like there may be space behind them, but they do not overhang well enough.
Spuhler's Folly and Mill Falls
A little while later (after the Hell's Pools trips), another southern waterfall appears on the lists. This waterfall is located on Nant Cwm Llwch, the stream draining the valley between Pen y Fan and Corn Du. It is named after the nearby Ffrwdgrech (rippling torrent), a manor house just south of Brecon, but lies on the next stream, one mile further away. The Taff Trail crosses a ford near the head of the waterfall, which could be used to extend the walk. However, the easiest approach is simply to park at a small layby at the Pont-rhyd-goch bridge, immediately above the waterfall. A path from there leads directly to the waterfall.
- Protection at the Beacons Reservoir, with Fan Fawr (734 metres).
- Pen y Fan (886 metres) and Corn Du (873 metres), the two tallest mountains in the Brecon Beacons, seen over Glyn Tarell. The valley between them is Cwm Llwch.
- Ffrwd-grech Waterfall. The main drop is about 4 metres. Above the waterfall are the Pont-rhyd-goch bridge, and a house that takes some work to keep out of a picture.
- Some little waterfalls on an inlet stream.
- On the other side of the road, a path leads upstream to some further waterfalls, each about 3 metres high.
- A short distance upstream, without any path, is another small waterfall, with a ridiculously oversized plunge pool. There are more upstream, but they're too much effort to reach.
- Brecon Castle. Sadly it is attached to a hotel, and access to the castle part is only permitted if you are a guest. The oldest part of the castle dates from over 900 years ago, with the main visible castle beginning 800 years ago.
- Entrance to Brecon Cathedral. This also dates from as much as 900 years ago, beginning life as a priory. One of the stones carries the date 1929, however, so presumably it has had significant restorations and modifications over the centuries.
- End of the cathedral's nave, and the adjoining buildings.
- Gothic arches in the cathedral.
- Organ, mounted on the far wall from the keyboard.