The Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walk has some of the prettiest waterfalls in Britain. Packed into a compact area, you can hike to many of them in a single day. Choose from a mix of easy trails or put several together for a wonderful river-side hike.

In a little corner of the Brecon Beacons, rivers flowing from high ridges tumble over rocky ledges and along a leafy valley creating a series of natural cascades known as Waterfall Country. Nowhere else in the UK has such a profusion of beautiful waterfalls in such a compact area.

The scenic area is carved with walking trails which cling to the edge of the river, revealing waterfalls with magical names such as Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (Falls of the White Meadow) and Sgwd-yr-Eira (Falls of the Snow). Visit the area to photograph the falls, walk up lovely valleys, or take a refreshing dip in one of the many great swimming spots.

Packed into a small compact area, many of the waterfalls can be reached on one of several easy day hikes. The Four Waterfalls Walk heads through glorious woodland to visit four of the best falls on the River Melte. The Elidir Trail follows the River Neath under a canopy of moss-covered trees to one large waterfall and 3 smaller ones. The Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walk puts all eight together on an excellent full day walk.

Here is all you need to know about the best of the Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walks.

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IN THIS GUIDE

3 GREAT WALKS ON THE ON THE BRECON BEACONS WATERFALL WALK


WHERE IS WATERFALL COUNTRY?

Waterfall Country is in the Brecon Beacons, a mountainous region in South Wales with 6 main peaks, the highest of which is Pen y Fan at 886 metres. As one of the 15 National Parks in the UK, it covers an area of over 500 square miles.

Located just north of Pontneddfechan and south of Ystradfellte, Waterfall Country is tucked into the central-southern section of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The nearest major town is Merthyr Tydfil (20 minutes’ drive) and the nearest cities are Swansea (30 minutes’ drive), followed by Cardiff (1 hour’s drive).

01 – FOUR WATERFALLS WALK

The most popular of the Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walks is the Four Waterfalls Trail. The 5.5-mile path wanders across a sleepy valley, and then into a dense woodland to uncover four glorious waterfalls strung out along the River Melte.

The first waterfall is Sgwd Clun-Gwyn or the Fall of the White Meadow, which drops 9 metres over two ledges. It’s the easiest waterfall to reach from the main path.

The second waterfall is Sgwd y Pannwr or Fall of the Woollen Washer. Access is via a longer detour from the main path and it requires a short scramble to see from up close. The 3rd is Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn or the Lower Fall of the White Meadow, which is a beautiful series of three small cascades, perfect for long exposure photography.

The final waterfall is the impressive Sgwd yr Eira, where the roaring torrent of River Hepste plunges over a ledge with a path allowing you to walk behind the cascade. The deep pool in front of the falls is a great spot for a refreshing dip.

The path leads back the way you came through the wood and back across the valley.

PARKING FOR THE FOUR WATERFALLS WALK

To start the Four Waterfalls Walk park at either of the Brecon Beacons National Car Parks, Gwaun Hapste (CF44 9JB) or Porth Cwn (CF44 9JE) which is slightly nearer the start of the walk. Both are Pay and Display Car Parks with limited space so try to arrive early on busy days.

Parking costs £5 for the day between 8am and 4pm and £4 outside these hours. The machine takes cards and coins – although no change is given. Gwaun Hapste has toilets, but there are none along the route.

DETAILS OF THE FOUR WATERFALLS WALK

The walk from Gwaun Hapste is 5.5 miles (or 8.8 kilometres) and takes about 3 to 3 hours, 30 minutes to complete. You can find a map of the route here.

The path is well signposted and is in the process of being upgraded from a dirt track to a well-constructed gravel trail. The main trail is relatively flat and stays above the valley floor. But in order to see some of the waterfalls that are hidden in the valley, you need to take two detours. Both involve a short steep descent down built in steps and one is often muddy and slippery so ideally wear comfortable and waterproof shoes or boots.

The Four Waterfalls Trail is not fit for pushchairs or buggies but can be done by anybody of reasonable fitness.

02 – ELIDIR TRAIL

The Elidir Trail also visits four waterfalls, this time strung out along the River Neath. While on average the cascades are not as impressive as the Four Waterfalls Walk there are four good reasons to do this walk.

Firstly, Sgwd Gwladys or Lady Fall is the most impressively located of all the waterfalls in Waterfall Country. Set in a natural amphitheatre in the forest, the water plunges seven metres over a rocky ledge into a 10-metre-deep pool.

Secondly, the pools at the bottom of the waterfall and all along the river are great for wild swimming. Come with your swimming gear on a warm day and there are several excellent places to take a dip.

Thirdly, the walk to the waterfalls is easy and beautiful. Drifting alongside the left bank of the River Neath (Nedd Fechan), the path is surrounded by moss-covered tree trunks and accompanied by the sounds of babbling water drifting under a canopy of leaves.

Finally, unlike the Four Waterfalls Walk, there is a wonderful café at the beginning and end of the hike. So, you can start with coffee and a hearty breakfast or end with a meal and a pint.

The only downside is you have to return the way you came. Alternatively, you can complete the Full Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walk detailed below. 

PARKING FOR THE ELIDIR TRAIL

To start the Elidir Trail park alongside the road in Pontneddfechan (SA11 5NW). Parking is free and the path leaves from behind the Angel Inn. There is a wonderful café called Sgwd Gladys Coffee Bar and Lodge right beside the parking. They do a decent coffee as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are toilets at Pontneddfechan but none along the route.

DETAILS OF THE ELIDIR TRAIL

The Elidir Trail is 1.3 miles to Sgwd Gladys and then another 1.2 miles to Pont Melin-Fach, passing 3 smaller waterfalls on the way. You can turn around any time you want, but if you complete the entire hike, the total distance is 5 miles and should take around 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours. The route is shown between sections one to three on this map.

The path is well-graded and only ascends very gradually making it easier than the Four Waterfalls Walk. It can be muddy after rain, but there are no steep sections to worry about unless you head off the main path to get a closer look at the falls.

03 – FULL BRECON BEACONS WATERFALL WALK

Our personal favourite Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walk combines both of the walks above and visits all eight waterfalls. The route begins at Pontneddfechan then heads up the Elidir Trail alongside the River Neath and crosses through farmland to join up with the Four Waterfalls Trail. From there it takes the tricky Waterfall Link path following the River Melte downstream to Sgwd yr Eira, where it passes under the waterfall and then traverses the wide open hills of the Brecon Beacons back to the start.

It’s a wonderfully diverse walk. Not only does it visit all the main falls but it ambles along rivers, strolls through deep forest, passes wonderful pools for swimming, and enjoys expansive views of the Brecon Beacons scenery. There’s no going back on yourself making each step as exciting as the last and there’s a café and pub at the beginning and at the end.

It does however require more effort and a bit of a head for heights. The entire route is 14 kilometres (8.75 miles) and the Waterfall Link path has a very narrow section with a steep drop on one side followed by a short but steep and often muddy descent. If you are a regular walker with a decent head for heights, you should not have a problem. It’s easy enough to inspect, so if you don’t fancy it, you can take a detour (adding an extra 2 kilometres).

It’s a little more adventurous and longer then the Elidir Trail and Four Waterfalls Walk, but that’s what makes it one of our favourite walks in the UK. Check out all the sights on route on our Instagram.

PARKING FOR THE FULL WATERFALL TRAIL

To start the Full Waterfall Walk, begin at Pontneddfechan (SA11 5NW) just as you would for the Elidir Trail. Parking alongside the road is free and the path leaves from behind the Angel Inn. Don’t forget to start the day with coffee and breakfast at the Sgwd Gladys Coffee Bar and Lodge. Reserve ahead at weekends or in summer holidays.

There are toilets at Pontneddfechan and portaloos at the small car park (fortunately at roughly the halfway point) marked on the map below.

DETAILS OF THE FULL BRECON BEACONS WATERFALL WALK

The walk is 8.75 miles (14 kilometres) and takes about four to five hours. Most of the walk is straight forward but there are two tricky sections – a 100-metre-long narrow path exposed on one side and a short scramble on wet rocks along the river to reach the path behind Sgwd yr Eira. Only attempt this walk if you have good fitness, a decent head for heights and good shoes with good grip.

The complete route and instructions for the walk are on the map below. The OS maps are incorrect in a number of places, so use our map below as an indicative guide as you follow the route.

MAP / BRECON BEACONS WATERFALL WALK

All the waterfalls in Waterfall Country as listed on our map, along with the route directions for the full walk. Click on the numbered points of interest for detailed hike instructions.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


TIPS FOR WALKING IN WATERFALL COUNTRY

1 – The paths are often muddy, wet and steep in a couple of places so wear waterproof shoes or boots with good grip

2 – There are few facilities on route, so make sure to use the toilets at the starting points and take whatever supplies (food and water) you need with you.

3 – It rains a lot in the Brecon Beacons so check the weather in advance and wear waterproofs if necessary.

4 – The spray when walking behind Sgwd yr Eira can be strong, so be prepared to get a little wet and have a way of protecting any equipment you need to keep dry.

5 – If you are a photographer bring a tripod to capture long-exposure images. If it’s very bright you might need ND filters as well.

6 – In summer there are loads of pools in which to take a dip, so bring your swimming gear and a towel.

7 – For the Four Waterfalls Walk bring cash for the Pay & Display Car Parks just in case the card machine is not working.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE BRECON BEACON WATERFALL WALKS

Waterfall Country is a relatively remote area of the Brecon Beacons, but there are still a decent number of places to stay.

To stay right next to the start of the Elidir Trail and the Full Waterfall Walk spend the night and Sgwd Gladys Lodge and have their delicious breakfast. For small self-contained apartments head over to Waterfall Country Apartments.

If you fancy a pool and a spa at the end of the walk try the Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel & Spa. Alternatively, the very friendly and spacious Llwyn On Guest House is about 25 minutes away.

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