The Brecon Beacons Waterfalls at Pontneddfechan in Wales proved to be a great route for novice hikers like me, who want to be wowed by waterfalls over a steady climb. Here’s a few points that may help you on your hike.
While this route offers a steady climb, please take care when walking on the routes and take your own precautions if you’re a novice like me!
Where to Park
One of the greatest things about these Brecon Beacons Waterfalls is the free parking, but you need to arrive early. Pontneddfechan is a very small village, so typing this in the Sat Nav got us where we need to be. Beyond two pubs and lovely cafe named Sywd Gwladys, there’s not much else and the main road runs in and out again. Parking is on the roadside with clear areas that you’ll see on your approach, before Sywd Gwladys.
The route we wanted to take started near the Visitors Centre, however, there is another car park named the Four Waterfalls Car Park further up the road that charges (£4 for the day I think) and appeared quite far up the route according to the map.
We arrived at 10:30am and there was plenty of roadside parking.
Time of Year
When we hiked this route to the Brecon Beacons Waterfalls, it was early September in the midst of an Indian Summer heatwave. This meant many of the routes up to the waterfalls were accessible, but they may not be later in the year. Please bear this in mind when tracking your expectations of what you may see.
What to Bring
To reiterate, I’m only a novice so take the advice in this article lightly and do your own research on how to remain safe. Based on my experience, I’d recommend packing water and snacks, wearing a good pair of hiking shoes with a cleaner pair of shoes to swap for the journey back in case you’re muddy, and a towel and swimming costume should you wish to swim.
A Cautionary Tale
The pools at the base of the waterfalls can be very alluring, particularly during summer, but please be very careful when swimming as the water temperature is colder than you may expect.
The Hiking Route
We opted for the Elidir Trail that promised four waterfalls with little challenge and, it did not disappoint. According to the informational maps, the route is estimated to take 1.5 hours for the 1.3 mile hike. It is a popular route as it is one of the less challenging in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Described as a ‘Celtic Rainforest’, this route is a great introduction to the Brecon Beacons Waterfalls starting through a clearly defined gate by the visitor centre in Pontneddfechan. Welsh myth claims that the entrance is the very same that trainee monk Elidir used to enter the fairy world after eloping from the abbey from which he escaped cruel treatment.
The first waterfall you’ll see along this route, affectionately known as Lady Falls, stands at 7 meters high, and is one of the few Brecon Beacons Waterfalls you can walk behind. After approximately 30 minutes, you’ll come to a footbridge that leads off across the ravine and a signpost to a viewpoint. You’ll want to continue on the path to the left and eventually, you’ll reach Sgwd Gwladus.
We continued beyond the actual viewpoint as it was accessible with some careful footing across rocks and pebbles.
Before backtracking in search of the remaining waterfalls, tiptoe across the pebbles to the other side and follow the path up to the top of this waterfall shown below.
As I mentioned, we visited during a dryer spell which meant we could sit over the lip of the waterfall.
Head back down the path and continue in the direction you first came until you’re back at the footbridge. With the footbridge on your right, bear left on the path upwards. You’ll notice a second bridge that pulls off to the right, but continue upwards and not across this bridge where you’ll reach waterfall #2.
So the other waterfalls along this route are named elsewhere as Sgwd Ddwli Isaf, Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf, Sgwd-y-Bedol, and Sgwd Einion Gam but besides Sgwd Gwladus, I can’t confidently name each one I came across, so we’re just going to call them waterfalls 2, 3 and 4.
Waterfall #2 pictured below was really lovely, off to the right of this picture is a deeper pool perfect for swimming. Once we’d finished ogling, we trekked across the rocks to reach waterfall #3. I think that during wetter months this route wouldn’t be accessible.
What’s interesting is that when we followed the clear path upwards, we weren’t able to see this waterfall at all. It’s only because the rocks were dry that we were able to walk directly up to it and even see it at waterfall #2.
After a small ascension, the path leveled out and we reached waterfall #4. From the path, we walked down to the rocks for a closer view. With the warmer weather, we decided to continue the path until we reached the top of this waterfall where we splashed around in the very cold pools.
Filled with serotonin from the wildlife walk, we followed the same path back down and across to the car park and enjoyed a well-deserved halloumi wrap at Sywd Gwladys.