Southerndown waterfall walk

Including Cwm Mawr Waterfall.

Ability requirements (key)


From Cardiff, take the M4 to junction 35, and take the A473 through Bridgend. At the third roundabout on the A473, take the second exit (ahead) onto the A48, signposted to Port Talbot. At the second roundabout, take the first exit (left) onto the B4265, signposted to Llantwit Major. At St. Brides Major, turn right onto the B4524, signposted to Southerndown. At southerndown, take the first left, opposite the Three Golden Cups pub, onto the beach road. Once it drops down to the beach, park in the beach parking area. SS 8855 7313.


This waterfall walk runs along the tidal beaches between Southerndown and Monknash in South Glamorgan. It must be stressed that this walk can only be undertaken at low tide - the tidal range is extremely high, and the entire surface disappears quite rapidly under water when the tide comes in, with very few places to escape from it. If attempting to follow this route, make sure that there is enough time to complete the 3 km of beach before venturing onto it. There is a clifftop path instead if needed. You can check the tide time predictions for the nearby Porthcawl station on the government EasyTide site. Note, however, that these cannot take into account all situations (they do not take storm surges into account, for example), and it is up to you to assess the situation for yourself and decide if the tide is low enough for you to complete the route, or if you should take the alternative route that is not affected by the tide.

Head through the gates (or the nearby stile) towards Dunraven Castle, opposite the way into the parking area. Follow the road, continuing ahead at the first branch, and right at the second, passing the restored tower. Soon after the tower, take the right fork when the track forks. Up ahead, a short path to the right bypasses a corner in the track which is collapsing down the cliff, rejoining it at a viewpoint. Continue along the track for a short distance, away from the cliff, to a gateway on the left. Take the path through the gate, which makes its way back to the cliff and then slowly descends it, needing a short scramble down the rocks at the end to reach the beach.

Follow the beach for 3 km. The first proper valley on the left produces the Cwm Mawr Waterfall, landing on the beach rocks. The next one, Cwm Bach, has some minor cascades, and an escape ladder just in case you get cut off by the tide. Next are the Whitmore Stairs, 70 metre tall cliffs with a large rock outcrop below them. Beyond that, the next valley, Cwm Nash, has a cascade at its mouth, and a path leading away from the beach. Follow the path up past a series of cascades and an old mill to reach a road. The road can be followed up to the village of Monknash, which has a good pub for food and refreshments.

When heading back, there is an alternative route; at the junction of roads in Monknash, take the lane to the left. After about 2 km, just before the second proper side lane to the right, take a footpath with a gate and stile on the left, heading consistently away from the road and leading down to Cwm Bach, where you can pick up the cliff path to the right. The same point can be reached by taking the beach route back and climbing the escape ladder at Cwm Bach, then taking the cliff path to the left. Follow the cliff path past Cwm Mawr, until it drops down to the track near Dunraven castle. From there, head back to the start of the walk.

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More about this area

Whilst every care has been taken in the compilation of this description, neither the author nor his fellow walkers can accept responsibility for loss or injury arising from any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in this description. This description is intended as a guide only, and you should select a route to suit your own abilities, at your own discretion. Ability requirements are a guide only. Route maps are approximated. You follow this description at your own risk.