This has been one of our favourite hikes for years, partly because it takes you along a river that has carved a gorge through beautiful woodland, and partly because at the destination you get to walk behind, yes actually behind a waterfall!! I think it’s one of the most powerful experiences you can hope to have in life; an assault on the senses; we feel truly rejuvenated whenever we visit this truly magical waterfall.
We couldn’t wait to hike this route with our babies, but as its a fairly long one, can be fairly treacherous in wet or cold weather, and involves a bit of a drive for us to get there, we waited until the time was right, which happened to be when they were around 11 months old.
Our route begins at the car park (very small and often full) on the road between Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte, at the Clyngwyn Bunkhouse. Link to map here.
The walk begins through farmland, on a fairly steep but good path down to the river, where we find the first, beautiful waterfall, Sgwd Clyngwyn. It then follows the river upstream for a short while, before crossing a footbridge and turning right to follow the river downstream. The path which is rocky and sometimes steep and slippery in places, takes us through beautiful deciduous woodland and plantations, passing several waterfalls on the way, though we usually tend to skip these as they involve a bit of a detour up & downhill each.
The babies were absolutely mesmerised by the lush green trees, and the river roaring next to us, then as we climbed the steep valley, the ever present deep rumble as we weaved the river banks far above. With just one or two stops for a drink for us, we made good progress. Eventually the girls got a bit grumpy and I had to stop to feed them on a very serendipitously placed flat rock.
This worked well as they perked up and were in great spirits for the descent to the waterfall, which requires the most concentration!
As they were doing so well, we decided to take the plunge (not literally) and walked behind the waterfall; such an incredible experience for us, I can’t even imagine how it must have been for them, but they were beaming and laughing all the way.
In all, the trek took us around 2 and a half hours with a ten minute stop to feed the girls. The sense of achievement we felt to have done this walk with the girls was incredible, and we so enjoyed seeing it all afresh through the eyes of a child.
- Take a map and familiarise yourself with the route before you go, it’s pretty easy to get lost in these parts
- The right gear is essential on this trek; sturdy footwear, waterproofs for the kids and a change of gear is all wise. It’s a good idea to take a fully charged phone although signal is far from reliable. If you get into serious trouble dial 999 and ask for ambulance / mountain rescue.
- The car park can be full, and is pretty renowned for break-ins so don’t leave any valuables on display
- The route can get really slippery during wet periods, and the rivers are cold and dangerous year round. Rock falls can also be an issue; walking behind the waterfall is not without risk and there are adventure activity providers that can take you on a guided walk with safety equipment which will mitigate some of the risks if you prefer.
To get the most out of the trip I recommend the following:
- Take plenty of snacks and drinks
- Take waterproofs and a change of clothes
- Don’t forget your camera – you won’t want to miss this photo opportunity!
- Plan a visit to the wonderful Waterfalls Pub in Ystradfellte before or after the trek for delicious home cooked meals including vegan and gluten free options, cakes, hot drinks, and local ales. There’s a great kids menu and even a campsite!