There are many things that Wales is known for. The Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons, beautiful coastlines, castles, dragons and sheep to name but a few, but one thing I have discovered and had the chance to witness myself more recently are the impressive number of beautiful waterfalls scattered around the country.
The great thing about the five waterfalls that I have chosen below, is that they are fairly accessible to most. Trust me, I am not going to be trekking through the forests for hours to get to a waterfall (well apart from in Yosemite National Park perhaps).
So without further ado, and in no particular order let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
We’ll start off in North Wales. Swallow Falls (Rhaeadr Ewynnol) is located about 2 miles outside of the scenic town of Betws-y-Coed on the edges of Snowdonia. Being one of the most visited locations in the area, there is a large car park on the opposite side of road at the Swallow Falls Hotel, and also a layby where you can park if there is space available.
There is a £2 entrance fee at a turnstyle leading to a pathway and some steps down to a perfect vantage point of the falls. Whilst Swallow Falls isn’t a particularly tall continuous drop, the water of the River Llugwy cascading down the rocks before heading on to another fall is quite spectacular, especially in spring time.
You should allow about 30 mins to see these falls, it really is that close to the car park.
Another one in North Wales, this waterfall passed me by until fairly recently. Being a mere 15 miles from my family home, you would have thought that I would have made it there at some point in the past, but I never. On the recommendation of family and friends I added it to a recent itinerary on a visit home.
Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr) is located just outside the village of Abergwyngregyn on the North Wales coast, conveniently just off the main A55 route that runs along the coastline. There is a car park which charges a small fee, which also has some public toilet facilities and picnic benches. The trail which leads to the falls from here is approximately 2 km with a gradual incline, although there are a couple of steeper spots. The trail is fully paved the whole way and is easily accessible.
As the pathway meanders through the Welsh countryside, it’s not long before you have a glimpse of the falls in the distance, and the closer you get, the sounds of the falls become more prominent.
As the Afon Goch plunges over the rocks at 120 feet high, it creates a thunderous sound and a lot of spray (be careful of your cameras if you get too close).
You can get fairly close to the falls on both sides of the river, with a bridge crossing the river offering another great photo opportunity.
Allow a couple of hours for this walk as you will want to spend a while at the falls.
Located in South Wales’ Brecon Beacons Waterfall Country, the trail to Sgwd Gwladys (The Lady Fall) starts in the small village of Pontneddfechan between Neath and Merthyr Tydfil on the A465, where there are plenty of options for parking, pubs and cafes.
The trail is approximately a mile each way, following a well made pathway which follows the river Neath through the woodland, before splitting off to the Afon Pyrddin where the waterfall is located.
Sgwd Gwladys may only be 10 meters tall, but it’s location with the overhanging rocks and the natural ampitheatre pool below creates a beautiful scene.
Again, allow a couple of hours. It’s not a strenuous walk by any stretch of the imagination, but why rush! These woodlands are gorgeous.
I know what you are thinking….
Where is the water? Well, yes, fair enough. We *may* have chosen the wrong time of year to visit the spectacular sights of Henrhyd Falls (Sgwd Henrhyd). It was actually in early June, so we did expect there to be a little more water. But, we live and learn.
The reason that we chose to visit Henrhyd Falls is simple. Batman. For any fans of the bat who have seen Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, you may have guessed that this waterfall provides the secret location to the batcave in the movie. Take a tip Bruce Wayne, it’s not going to be much of a secret entrance in the summer!
Another one located in the Brecon Beacons, Henrhyd Falls is located just outside the village of Coelbren. There is a National Trust car park available free of charge at the start of the trail, which leads you down a fairly steep hill to the Nan Llech river in the valley below. Once the trail levels out, there is a bridge to cross followed by some steps up before following the pathways to base of the falls.
Henrhyd Falls is the tallest waterfall in South Wales at 90 feet, plunging into a large pool below. An interesting feature of this waterfall is the fact that you can walk behind the falls, although it worth being very careful as the ground does get very slippery from the spray created.
You should allow about 2 hours for this walk in total. There are plenty of photo opportunities along the way, and given the links to the Batman movie, it can get fairly busy.
I saved the best until last.
This time we head up to Mid Wales, to the small and amazingly named town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (are you enjoying all these Welsh place names?). Located about half an hour from Bala or Oswestry, the road up from the village is a narrow single track with some passing places which leads to a cafe, car park and public toilets not far from the foot of this magnificent waterfall. There is a charge for parking.
Pistyll Rhaeadr is one of the tallest waterfalls in Wales, where the Afon Disgynfa falls down approximately 240 feet of cliff face, in three separate stages. The walk from the car park takes mere minutes along a flat and well tended trail, leading to a bridge at the base of the falls perfect for all your photo opportunities.
Given the fact that this waterfall is so close to the car park, it doesn’t take a great deal of time to get there, however given that it is fairly remote, very beautiful and the added bonus of a cafe I would allow a couple of hours to meander and take it all in.
This is by no means all that Wales has to offer in terms of waterfalls. There are plenty more on offer but we can get to those another day.