Waterfalls in Wales that you can walk behind

Another hero, behind the curtain. In the pantomime.

There are several big waterfalls in Waterfall Country that you can walk behind, as well as a couple of smaller ones. The waterfalls around Merthyr Tydfil, the Swansea Valley and the head of the Rhondda and Corrwg valleys also provide some possibilities, as well as their unique characters, which are totally different from those in Waterfall Country. The Clydach Gorge and nearby Mynydd Llangatwg also offer a few small waterfalls where this is possible (including a proper cave behind a waterfall), Dyffryn Crawnon has one such waterfall and Blaen-y-Glyn offers one tiny waterfall. Glyn Tarell and the Black Mountain offer two unusually placed options. Snowdonia offers a few options in the Cadair Idris range, one in the Aranau and one very special case in the Glyderau, with another two nearby in the Berwyn range of North Wales. Mid Wales and West Wales each offer one option for specialists. Perhaps there are more in other parts of Wales that I have yet to encounter - they will be added when I encounter them. If you're just looking to get started, I'd suggest the first two, as they have the best paths.

Of course, there is a degree of risk associated with this, and it is up to you to judge whether it is safe for you or not. You may use this information here as a guide, but ultimately, you follow this information entirely at your own risk, and you are responsible for assessing the safety of the routes behind the waterfalls. Risks include falling rocks, falling icicles, spray, wind, ice, slippery surfaces, plunge pools, drops, debris, other visitors, pollutants and the water itself. Unless specifically graded as part of a route in a route guide, these are not covered by my ability grading system (the majority of these are therefore not graded). Take care, wear appropriate clothing, and enjoy.

Sgwd Henrhyd

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Pro

Con

High water

The spray is severe - enough to produce high winds and fog.

Ice

Occasionally freezes. The ledge and path is usually clear enough of ice, but will be slippery at the edges, and in a couple of places where streams cross it.

Sgwd yr Eira

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Pro

Con

High water

Strong spray, but still normally safe enough.

Ice

Sometimes partially freezes. When it does partially freeze, the ice builds up on the ledge behind the waterfall, making it dangerous to walk behind.

Sgwd Gwladus

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Pro

Con

High water

In flood, the entire path behind the waterfall disappears completely under water.

Ice

Often freezes enough to prevent use of the path for a few weeks each winter. The ice builds up against the wall behind the waterfall, and icicles overhang the path. Slipping would potentially result in landing in a small hole in the icy plunge pool. Get the picture? If it's icy, do not try to walk behind it.

Melincourt Falls

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Pro

Con

High water

In flood, the path used to reach the ledge behind waterfall suffers badly from spray, and can be undercut by the river in extreme flood, making it dangerous to follow. It also would not be possible to ford the river in order to reach the other side of the ledge.

Ice

Often freezes enough to prevent use of the path for a few weeks each winter. The ice builds up on the path used to reach the ledge behind the waterfall, and makes it extremely dangerous to reach.

Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn, top section

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Pro

Con

High water

Lethal. Far too easy to get washed over the lower waterfalls.

Ice

Rarely, if ever, freezes (though apparently it used to a few decades ago). Ice would make it lethal due to the amount of water on the ledge and the proximity to the next waterfall, but that won't be a problem unless it actually manages to freeze.

Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn, bottom section

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Pro

Con

High water

In flood, parts of the path behind the waterfall disappear under water. Fording the river would be impossible. Descending the cliffs would never be advisable.

Ice

Rarely, if ever, freezes (though apparently it used to a few decades ago). Ice would make it extremely difficult due to the amount of water on the ledge, but that won't be a problem unless it actually manages to freeze.

Small waterfall near Sgwd Ddwli Isaf

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Pro

Con

High water

Might make it look a bit better. Take care near the river.

Ice

Probably not an issue, since it's in a well sunlit area, and will have trouble freezing. Be careful of falling icicles if it does manage to freeze.

Small waterfall between Horseshoe Falls and Pwll Du ar Byrddin

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Pro

Con

High water

Might make it look a bit better, but harder to get to - only the less-used path above it may be used (the river cannot be crossed), but that means great care must then be taken to descend to the cliff.

Ice

Can freeze. Be careful of falling icicles, and take care of ice which may coat the rocks on the ledge.

Craig Cilfach-bronwydd

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Pro

Con

High water

Will look better, but harder to get to, as the river needs to be crossed at least twice.

Ice

Can freeze, turning into a series of icicles, and a very slippery floor. Best avoided and admired from a distance.

Aberdulais Falls

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Pro

Con

High water

Warning: this river flash floods after rain, and can rise faster than you can get out. Water depth can be as much as 4 metres at the base during flood, cutting off the routes to get out, and making even abseiling in impossible. Even in slightly high water, it is lethal - impossible to reach the base of the waterfall. Only approach the base of the waterfall in summer, after long periods of dry weather. Consider yourself warned.

Ice

Rarely freezes. Ice would make it extremely difficult due to the amount of water and spray on the shingle bank, but that won't be a problem unless it actually manages to freeze. Wading through the water would be prohibitively cold and risky. When it does freeze, the spouts can disappear completely, leaving nothing to walk behind.

Pwll-yr-Wydden

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Pro

Con

High water

Only interesting in high water, but be careful in flood, as it may dislodge rocks.

Ice

May have trouble freezing, as it needs wet weather for the waterfall to appear. If it does get the right conditions, ice would build up on the ledge and rocks around the base and the route to the waterfall, which would make it too dangerous to walk behind.

Tareni Gleision main waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Should not be too much of a problem, but watch out for loose debris, and take care when crossing the stream.

Ice

Ice can build up on the ledge, which would make it lethal.

Tareni Gleision upper waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Probably not a good idea, due to the risk of falling debris, and additional spray.

Ice

Ice can build up on the ledge, which would make it impossible to walk behind.

Twyn y Crug Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Still normally posible to walk behind it, though the splashes from a nearby ledge get worse, and waterproofs become more important.

Ice

Should freeze only on rare occasions. Ice would build up on the rocks around the base and the route to the waterfall, which would make it dangerous to approach.

Corrwg Fechan Falls inlet waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Still easily posible to walk behind it, but it becomes more dangerous to reach, as the nearby Afon Corrwg needs to be forded at a series of cascades.

Ice

Should freeze only on rare occasions. Ice would build up on the rocks around the base and on the nearby river, which would make it dangerous to approach.

Nant Meliorath Falls

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Pro

Con

High water

Still normally posible to get behind it. In higher flow, the veil spreads out more completely, so an umbrella may be useful, but waterproof coat and trousers also work.

Ice

Can freeze in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice would build up on the rocks around the base and grass on the ledge. Ice would make it more difficult due to the amount of water in the grass on the ledge.

Nant Melyn Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Probably not much different, but getting to it is harder, as the stream needs to be crossed. Might make it more difficult to get out the other side.

Ice

Ice sometimes builds up on the rocks around the base and grass on the ledge. Ice would make it more difficult due to the amount of water in the grass on the ledge.

Nant Carnfoesen Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Probably not a good idea.

Ice

Ice sometimes builds up on the rocks around the base and grass on the ledge. Ice would make it much more difficult due to the amount of water on the ledge.

Rhondda Fawr Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Almost certainly lethal.

Ice

Ice sometimes builds up from the spray on the rocks around the base, which would make it even more dangerous than it already is.

Pen Pych Waterfall/Berw Wion

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Pro

Con

High water

Still seems fairly safe, though crossing the stream may be more awkward.

Ice

Ice may sometimes build up on the rocks around the base. There is water on some of the surfaces in the undercut, and having ice there would make it difficult to get up to beside the waterfall itself.

Berw Nant yr Ychen

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Pro

Con

High water

Still normally safe enough, though getting upstream may be more awkward.

Ice

The waterfall often freezes completely. The ice can build up on the ledge, making it dangerous to walk behind.

Blaenant y Gwyddyl

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Pro

Con

High water

The risk of falling debris increases, but it should be possible to get behind the waterfall in high water. The stream needs to be forded to reach it, however, and this will become much more risky in flood.

Ice

Can freeze in cold conditions. The ice will build up from the spray on the ledge, leaving nowhere safe to walk, and potentially filling the undercut completely.

Llech Sychryd

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes the curtain wider, so that it looks significantly better. Spray will also increase, but it should still remain safe enough to walk behind it.

Ice

Can freeze in cold conditions. The ice builds up from the spray on parts of the ledge behind the waterfall. It is still possible to walk behind it, but great care is needed to avoid slipping on any icy patches.

Pwll Annie

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes the curtain wider, so that it looks significantly better, but increases the splashing on the ledge. If it becomes too wide, the water will land on the start of the ledge, blocking access to it. It would be far too dangerous to approach in flood conditions.

Ice

Will rarely freeze in cold conditions. Ice may build up from the spray on parts of the ledge behind the waterfall, making it far too dangerous to approach.

Blaen-y-Glyn inlet waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes it risky to reach, due to having to walk along the bank and bed of the nearby river. The waterfall itself, however, looks better with more water.

Ice

Can freeze enough to make it dangerous to walk behind. The ice builds up on the ledge and the edge of the river, leaving nowhere safe to walk.

Nant y Gerdinen Top Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Only possible to walk behind it in high flow. Best visited in flood conditions.

Ice

Often freezes during cold spells in winter. The ice builds up on the rocks at the base, leaving nowhere safe to walk.

Pistyll Crawnon

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Pro

Con

High water

Not much different, but take care on the ledge in case some of the footholds become loosened by the water.

Ice

Ice sometimes builds up on the rocks around the base and grass on the ledge. Ice would make it very dangerous due to the amount of water in the grass on the ledge.

Pistyll Mawr/Small waterfall by Coal Tar Cave resurgence

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes it dangerous to walk behind, due to proximity to the river. The waterfall itself, however, looks better with more water.

Ice

Often freezes enough to make it dangerous to walk behind. The ice builds up on the rocks around the base, leaving nowhere safe to walk.

Cwm Nantmelyn Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Too easy to get knocked off the ledge by the water. Don't risk it.

Ice

Ice can build up on the ledge, which would make it lethal.

Ogof Clogwyn

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes the curtain wide enough to get slightly further behind it. Best visited in flood conditions.

Ice

Rarely, if ever, freezes. Ice would make it more slippery and may block the space behind the waterfall, but the real risk is slipping into the far more dangerous gorge below the cave. Take care.

Waterfall Cave resurgence waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

The nearby river is lethal. Makes the waterfall impossible to reach.

Ice

Rarely, if ever, freezes. Ice would make the nearby river lethal, cutting off access to the waterfall itself.

Eglwys Faen Waterfall Entrance

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes the curtain more visible. Best visited in flood conditions, though waterproofs become more important.

Ice

Can freeze in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice would build up in the cave behind the waterfall, making it dangerous to walk behind.

Small waterfall near Glangraig Waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

The waterfall needs high flow to become significant enough to be worth visiting. The tide must be low.

Ice

Unlikely to be directly affected by ice due to its proximity to the sea. However, the slope and path above it could become very slippery.

Rhaeadr Peiran

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Pro

Con

High water

Almost certainly lethal.

Ice

Could suffer from ice in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice would build up from the spray on the rocks around the base, the ledges around the waterfall and the cliffs above it, which would make it too dangerous to even approach, let alone walk behind.

Pistyll y Graig-ddu, bottom section

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Pro

Con

High water

Even in high water, it is still possible to walk behind, though the gaps in the veil get smaller, and waterproofs will be required. In full flood, it will become too dangerous to reach the stepping stones in order to get behind the waterfall.

Ice

Will freeze either partially or completely in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice will build up from the spray on the rocks around the base, which will make it too dangerous to walk behind.

Afon Ceiriog middle waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Higher flow makes the veil spread out better but also makes the slippery slab more dangerous due to spray. In flood, it will become too dangerous too approach.

Ice

Can freeze partially in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice builds up on the slab and ledge, making it too dangerous to walk behind.

Llaethnant upper waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

High flow will cause the stream to flow over more of the waterfall lip, blocking easy access to the undercut. The base of the waterfall will pond up, leaving nowhere to walk, and the neighbouring waterfall will cover the rocks used to scramble down to the base. It will be too dangerous to approach the base, or walk behind the waterfall.

Ice

Will freeze either partially or completely in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice will build up from the spray on the rocks around the base, which will make it too dangerous to walk behind.

Cadair Cataracts boulder waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Normal winter water levels may cause too much water to cascade over the boulder, cutting off access to the undercut. High water brings severe risk of falling rocks and debris, and makes it far too dangerous to approach the waterfall. Take extreme care after high water has subsided, as the rocks and boulders that form the waterfall could easily become dislodged or prone to collapses.

Ice

Will freeze either partially or completely in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice will build up on all surfaces, including the steep slope used to reach the waterfall. It will become far too dangerous to approach or attempt to walk behind. Ice may also cause boulders and rocks to move, making the waterfall unstable. Avoid it and take extreme care after a thaw.

Penrhyn-gwyn

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Pro

Con

High water

It is still possible to walk behind in high water, with increasing spray. High flow should also ensure the curtain is wide enough. In very high flood, it may become too dangerous to approach, due to the currents around the base, and the rocks being submerged.

Ice

Does not normally freeze. Ice may build up from the spray on the rocks around the base, which would make it too dangerous to walk behind. However, this is a very rare occurrence, according to the gorge walkers.

Arthog Waterfalls top waterfall

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Pro

Con

High water

Quite likely to be dangerous to attempt to walk behind it in flood, as the water will probably overspill the channel, and cascade over the entire base. In normal winter levels, it is still possible to walk behind, but extra care must be taken.

Ice

Will freeze either partially or completely in sufficiently cold conditions. Ice will build up from the spray on the rocks around the base, which will make it too dangerous to walk behind.

Devil's Kitchen (boulder overhang)

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Pro

Con

High water

Makes the waterfall's curtain spread out further, and increases the volume of the inner waterfall, giving the best effect. The difficulty does not increase much, but can require more care when scrambling up the gorge. Waterproofs become more important.

Ice

Will freeze completely in sufficiently cold conditions. The entire waterfall and gorge stream can freeze, which will make it too dangerous to approach without ice climbing experience and equipment.