The Waterfall Walk Brecon Beacons

Its not often we get to explore the lands beyond the Severn bridge but when we do we are almost always guaranteed breathtaking scenery and today was no exception. If my memory serves me well I think me and Nigel gatecrashed what was supposed to be a romantic walk for Mark and his wife Sarah. So there were four of us today - ready to tackle the rugged terrain of the Brecon's in search of some waterfalls.

Mark had found the route from a pocket guide of the Brecon Beacons that he had with him for reference. Whilst on route we had a little trouble finding the car park, a road that we needed to take off from the A4059 was closed. There was no reason as to why the road was closed and no clear diversion instructions. We ended up going round in circles and in that region the roads were quite narrow so it became quite tedious. We eventually stopped and asked a lady who handed us over to her husband as she admitted that she did not know the area that well. He seemed to be a bit more knowledgeable and told us a series of a lefts and rights. However this proved as useful as the road that was closed and still we chased our tales. There was only one thing left to do and that was to chance it and head down the road that was closed.

We could have saved ourselves 30 mins of driving round in circles as there was no visible reason as to why the road was closed and we eventually found the car park that over looked the mouth of Porth yr Ogof.

Porth yr Ogof

We parked up and got our gear on, I had brought along a tripod so that I could hopefully get some long exposure shots of the waterfalls. I had done no research into these waterfalls so I had no idea what we were about to see. I think I speak for the four of us when I say we were totally blown away with what we did see.

Before we set off on the walk we went down some steps from the car park to see Porth yr Ogof which is one of the largest cave entrances in Wales - (One of) - theres actually more like this. It was like entering into another world down there. The river was running low exposing a lot of the river bed and large boulders. These acted like stepping stones as we entered the cave. we wondered what it would be like down there if the river was swollen and even the entrance to the cave was under water. Lots of tunnels went off from this natural foyer the sound of cascading water could be heard in the distance.

The cave went a good few metres back under the car park. In the centre of the void was a huge tree root that had been washed in there with the current. The child in us all wanted to explore further but there was a real sense of danger here too. After a while of taking in this magnificent site we headed round a little further to notice another small opening in the cliffside. The sound of deep flowing water could be heard within the space. There was just enough room to stick your head in and look at the white water as it rushed through the many chasms within the system.

We climbed the steps back up to the car park and headed right along a road until we hit a kissing-gate. We then followed the path marked with a yellow arrow alongside the steadily flowing Afon Mellte.

We noticed lots of fenced off areas as we followed the path. Theses were actual pot hole entrances for experienced cavers. We joked about having a length of rope and getting in amongst it, that was the child in us again. Trekking along the waters edge we each took in the beauty as we listened to the river flowing and the birds tweeting. Its times like these that makes walking so worth while.

Our path suddenly got wet as a ford ran through the gap we had to pass through and ran off the side of the ridge.

The paths at this point were flat and well maintained however further on they had became quite warn due to high waters. The soil had been washed away; exposing lots of tree roots whilst the tall trunks leaned into the river. Nigel was on the look out for some Dippers and Mark was keeping his eyes open for a Kingfisher.

At points the river fell away and we were walking along a sort of ridge overlooking the river below. We could hear flowing water as if it was falling but we were still yet to see a waterfall. Out path winded through thickets of trees and then it opened up into an area of grassland that lead up towards some high hills or mountains to our left.

Our path digressed through more undergrowth as the main route went over a bridge to another part of the trail. We have vowed to return and explore the lands beyond the bridge at some point. However on this occasions we were sticking to our pocket guide which was great up until we reached a certain cross roads not far from the bridge.

In the book it said I quote "bear left onto the well-surfaced path" which we did. In our midst was a well surfaced path on our right and up ahead was a lumpy path because of more exposed tree routes. So we took the well surfaced route which began to ascent away from the river. We thought nothing of it at first maybe we had to climb to see the water fall from the top into the limestone gullies below.

However this path kept on rising until we got to a sort of clearing. Our shingled route met another almost like a T-junction. We had a bit of a scout round and read the map once more and still could not quite work out whether or not we were on the right path or not. We decided to carry on round so we took a left and ventured across what looked to be scrub land. About half a mile ahead we entered a small wood. It was looking bleaker and bleaker, there was no signs of water let alone waterfalls. Nigel noticed some badly weathered finger posts. Neither had anything on that was relevant. I think one had a road on it, quite possibly the A4059. It was time to make a decision whether we carried on or headed back. It was at that point that we noticed a style in the fence. It was a little overgrown but we knew that if we went in that general direction it would at least lead us back to the action.

We entered into a field that was surrounded by the sweeping mountains of the Brecon Beacons. We even saw the road that was closed so we had an idea where we were in relation to the land. Behind us were the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du sitting comfortably against a dramatic looking sky. As we headed back towards the waterfall region the ground underfoot was become more and more tricky to navigate through. In some places it was very boggy and marshy. It was a case of standing on the raised tuffs of grass to avoid getting a soggy foot. I was in my element here, the scenery was superb and as Mark and Nigel know I have a thing for trees - its not a fetish or anything sexual before you say anything Mr Davies.

We left the boggy area of the field and headed into an area that was more densely populated by trees. There were a series of channels that directed runoff water from the tops of the highlands down towards the rivers which meant we were on the right path. We picked up a route that took us by a fast flowing stream. The sound of running water was reassuring however the very narrow ridge that we found ourselves on was not so flattering. It was very steep and the only thing stopping us from falling a very long way to our almost certain deaths was a rusty barb wire fence.

We hurried along safely watching our step hoping that we would find a more concise and recognised route at the end of it but that wasn't to be - we hit a dead end. Neither of us really wanted to go over the fence even though it looked a lot safer than what we had just undergone so we turned right and followed the fence back up to the land that we had originally been walking through, it seemed to be one big area.

Mark and Nigel whistled the tune from the film Deliverance as we passed this peculiar site, two rusty machetes sticking out from a tree stump. Well we had been lost for about two hours now and we were starting to get a little worried because this was supposed to be a waterfall walk and so far we had seen zero waterfalls and we were struggling to find normality or even other people. The terrain had become boggy again making it difficult for Sarah who had not planned for this type of hike, though she coped very well.

So, we were lost and we had no way of finding our way - myself, Mark and Sarah were stood still looking around through the trees seeing if we could make some sense of where we might be when a familiar voice broke the silence. "Over here, I think I have found a path" It was Nigel's voice but he was nowhere to be seen. "Where are you?" Mark shouted. There was a pause before Nigel yelled back "I am by the tree" Mark and Sarah looked at me and murmured the words "Is he having a laugh?" The three of us then heard a dog barking which filled us with relief. "Which tree?" Sarah shouted. Moments later Nigel appeared from a dense hedgerow with a smile on his face. We hurried over a stream and through the bushes which brought us out on to a nice clean cut managed path.

Tired and weary it was time to see what we had come for. It was good to see people again and the dog that brushed past us. A bench marked the top of some stairs that lead down to a waterfall so we began the decent. The steps were quite steep and big, as in tall. They must have been at least a foot a step which made me think the way back up is going to hurt. As we got closer to the bottom I could hear falling water, it was like a rumble but the waterfall that I could see ahead of me was only small it did not make the sound that I could hear. I looked at Mark and said is that it? Mark pointed to my left and said no, thats it there. Through the trees I could see a huge torrent of water rushing over at least a 40 foot high ridge. I was blown away, I picked up the pace I wanted to get down and see this thing.

I think we were all quite surprised how big the thing was and how majestic it looked, nestled in it's own sort of clearing within the cliffside. I immediately setup my tripod and camera looking for a good spot to set it down. A bloke and his missus followed us down and they headed towards the waterfall. Nigel noticed the bloke go actually behind the waterfall so he thought he would have a go and off he went. The three of us watched as Nigel disappeared behind the falling water and emerged on the other side of the river. I was still getting photos so Mark and Sarah went on to explore.

Having refreshed ourselves under the spray of the waterfall we headed back up the stairs to the path. Poor old Sarah had been in the wars a bit as she slipped on the rocks on the way to the waterfall and bump her head once behind the wall of water. Beaten, battered and bruised I think we were all about ready for a well earned pint. However we weren't done yet, our route back took us alongside another waterfall. This one could be seen from the ridge so it wasn't too bad, no climbing necessary.

We followed the path back to the original crossroads where our "Well-surfaced path" was and realised that we were on the path that we should have taken and it certainly was not well surfaced. Anyway it was just a case of following the path back to the car park. Even though we had a slight detour I think the walk was a success. We got to walk behind a waterfall something that neither of us have done before and Nigel did see a Dipper. The Kingfisher still evades our gaze but I am sure Mark will see one in the not too distant future. I think all four of us would like to return in the hope of seeing more waterfalls.

Once back at the car we went in search of an ale house. I had to sink one so that I could enjoy the other. For some reason I thought the walk would only be two maybe three miles so I forfeited water which was in a bladder within my rucksack for my tripod. So I had no water on the walk, that first pint went down a charm - Cheers!

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