Winter Waters 2010

Picking up another set of missed southern waterfalls. Sgwd Ddu, Llech Sychryd, Pwll-y-Gerwyn/Gadlys Falls, Pistyll Goleu, Cleddon Falls.

It had to happen; some thoughtlessful individual decided to make a partially complete list of named Welsh waterfalls on Wikipedia. Their list highlighted a few waterfalls that I had missed. ARGH! Wonderful! The good part about it is that they have been through the OS maps, and located most of the named waterfalls mentioned there. Like me, they missed a few, but they also found the rest. This now means my list is as complete as I want it to be, and all that is left is for me to visit the remaining waterfalls. This gallery covers the five of them that are in South Wales.

Sgwd Ddu

Somehow, I had managed to miss this waterfall, one of very few located in the Black Mountain range. It is at the head of Cwm Haffes, where the Afon Haffes runs off the plateau. It has two potential access routes, one over the hillside above the Dan-yr-Ogof showcaves, and the other directly up the valley containing the Afon Haffes. The river route cannot be used when the river is in flood. In flood or icy conditions (or if you dislike fording rivers), start from the Dan-yr-Ogof car park, using the footpath that heads northwards. In normal conditions, you can start from the layby just beyond the Tawe Bridge from Glyntawe, on the side of the A4067. This walk takes in both routes.

Llech Sychryd

This is another one I really should not have missed, as it is right beside the A465 (Heads of the Valleys Road) between Merthyr Tydfil and Hirwaun, a road I have driven countless times. It is situated on Nant Hir, just upstream of the Nant-hîr Reservoir, the obvious reservoir crossed by a bridge on the A465. Sadly it has no good access routes, with all possible access routes having at least one fence that needs to be hopped. There is no path. Anywhere. What this means, however, is that this waterfall (very reminiscent of Sgwd yr Eira but on a smaller scale), is wonderfully isolated.

Although the waterfall is on open access land on one bank, and forestry land on the other, it has no good access routes onto that land, and no convenient parking. You could try to park near the hotel at the crest of the A465 hill, hop the fences and walk around the open access land. You could also start from the banks of the Taff, or from Penderyn, using footpaths to get closer before crossing open access land. Or get to it from the far side of Mynydd-y-glog.

Alternatively, you can park in the laybys of the A465, between the Nant Melyn and Nant Hir streams, or park (as I did) on the access lane near the Nant-hîr Reservoir. In either case, the access route crosses forestry land, starting at the bridge over the reservoir. (The fields at the other end of the bridge may seem to provide an easier route, and there is even a stile under the road bridge leading along a path probably all the way down the side of the reservoir to a gate by the dam, but the fields are privately owned, and do not have any known access agreement.)

Pwll-y-Gerwyn/Gadlys Falls

The Wikipedia list mentioned a waterfall called Gadlys Falls, with no further details. The name does not appear to be official, and exists only on Wikipedia and its multiple clones. Presumably, whoever put it there lives near somewhere called Gadlys, and knows a waterfall there, so decided to give it a name. There are very few places in Wales with that name, and only one of them seemed to have a waterfall nearby. It is not mentioned on the map. However, the local library archives gave it a formal name; Pwll-y-Gerwyn (the tub pool). My conclusion is that these two names refer to the same waterfall, and that Pwll-y-Gerwyn is the official name.

The waterfall is located on the Dare river, right beside the Gadlys estate in Aberdare. Take the road running between Aberdare Park and Gadlys (Glan Road), from the B4275, to the St. John Baptist School. Park outside the school.

Pistyll Goleu

This waterfall is situated in the Cwm Clydach between Miskin in the Cynon valley, and Tylorstown in the Rhondda Fach valley, just upstream of Ynysybwl. It is easiest accessed using whatever route you prefer. It is located between the Llanwonno road and Clydach Reservoir in the St Gwynno Forest. The name Pistyll-goleu, according to the map, refers to the nearby homestead, not the waterfall. However, the waterfall has had access improvements that make it one of the attractions of the forest, so the name Pistyll Goleu has been extended to cover the waterfall as well.

Cleddon Falls

Despite its length, depth, steep sides and numerous inlets, the lower Wye is almost devoid of waterfalls (possibly due to its abundance of limestone). It appears to have only this single named waterfall on the entire Welsh side of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is located above the small village of Llandogo, at the even smaller village of Cleddon (pronounced as an English word, not a Welsh word - the original Welsh name of the waterfall is Rhaeadr Caledan, which has a similar pronunciation to the English name Cleddon, and means "forceful waterfall"). There are a few places to park in the village, such as by the post boxes, or at the village shops by the A466. Failing that, try the back road heading up beside the shops. There are a variety of routes up to Cleddon - you could even drive there and park 20 metres from the waterfall, if you are that boring way inclined. Our route was suggested by the locals.