The Brecon Beacons waterfalls are one of the highlights of this wild and wonderful National Park in South Wales. Welcome to an enchanted woodland world, an extraordinary landscape where the roar of a torrent of water crashing downwards is never far away.
Many of these falls can be found in ‘Waterfall Country’, a small, distinct area in the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park, famous for its deep limestone river valleys.
We also show you the other main waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and indeed some just outside the Park boundary, including the nearby Neath Valley waterfalls.
Why Visit The Brecon Beacons Waterfalls
The Brecon Beacons is an astonishingly beautiful and varied National Park, and its waterfalls are among the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons.
Brecon Beacons Waterfall Country has the biggest concentration of waterfalls in Wales, with eight falls and numerous nameless small cascades in the small forested area of limestone gorges between the villages of Ystradfellte and Pontneddfechan.
The trails to some of these Brecon Beacons waterfalls are among the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons – and you can explore most of them on just two long walks.
As well as hiking, the area around Ystradfellte has [plenty more to explore, from Porth yr Ogof cave to industrial heritage to the inspirational open moorland of the Fforest Fawr area to the north.
The Beacons waterfalls are magnificent at any time of year, and are especially photogenic in autumn and springtime.
The waterfalls of the Brecon Beacons make one of the best day trips from Cardiff, and are also easily reached from Swansea, Newport, and anywhere between Bristol and Pembrokeshire. They can be reached via the main A465 road
These Brecon Beacons waterfalls are best visited from Ystradfellte, the village on the northern edge of Brecon Beacons Waterfall Country. The last of them, Sgwd yr Eira, can also be accessed from the car park near Penderyn, to the east, or Pontneddfechan, to the south.
The Brecon Beacons 4 Waterfalls Walk takes you to all of these waterfalls, and you have two route options, which I will explain below.
Gwaun Hepste car park is the designated car park for this walk – it’s around 1 km north of the first waterfall, close to the entrance to the Porth yr Ogof cave. The postcode is CF44 9JF.
Upper Clungwyn Falls – Sgwd Uchaf Clun Gwyn
The first waterfall in the Brecon Beacons that many see is Sgwd Uchaf Clungwyn, which translates as ‘the upper fall of the white meadow’.
The hitherto gentle Afon Mellte river suddenly crashes 40 feet down over two ledges, and it’s a mightily impressive sight from the pathway just above the falls on the east side of the river.
It’s also possible to get quite close to the falls via the rocks to the right side of the river left in the image above). Bear in mind that they can be extremely slippery – I picked up my worst hiking injury there many years ago, slipping on the rocks and badly gashing my leg.
I stuck to the view from the opposite bank the next time I visited.
Lower Clungwyn Falls – Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn
Sgwd Isaf Clungwyn – ‘the lower falls of the white meadow’ – can be reached directly from Sgwd Uchaf Clungwyn, or you can opt to take the alternative Four Waterfalls Walk route via Sgwd y Pannwr (see below).
Most photographs of Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn only show the top part of the falls – there is also a lower section that you can’t get very close to. There is a section of relatively flat, rocky ground to negotiate before you reach the upper part of the falls.
This is one of the highlights of Waterfall Country in the Brecon Beacons – a long, wide cascade, not much more than 10 feet high, absolutely magical.
Sgwd y Pannwr Waterfall
This waterfall – whose name translates as ‘the fall of the fuller’ (as in cloth fuller) in English – is the third stop on this Brecon Beacons waterfalls walk. It is downstream on the Afon Mellte from Sgwd Isaf Clungwyn.
The falls are higher than Lower Clungwyn Falls – around 5-6 metres – and form a similar wide cascade in two stages. The last time I visited, I looked on in disbelief as I watched a kayaker fly off the top into the plunge pool below.
The walk was quite enough for me!
Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall
One of the most popular Brecon Beacons waterfalls, Sgwd yr Eira (‘the waterfall of snow’) is one of the most picturesque. It’s on the Afon Hepste, the last fall you reach on the Four Waterfalls Walk, and part of its appeal is that you can walk behind the curtain of water.
It has a stunning woodland setting, and along with Melin Court, one of my personal favourite waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons area.
You can access Sgwd yr Eira from three directions. Many approach it on the Four Waterfalls Walk, but there is also a good path leading there from a car park off the A4059 road near Penderyn, just to the east.
I also recommend the path from Dinas Rock car park (see Sychryd Falls entry below). This leads across moorland with views over the wooded gorge of the Hepste, before descending through the forest canopy into the cacophony of noise caused by the gushing falls. This walk is around two miles (3.2 km) long.
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The following Brecon Beacons waterfalls are best reached from Pontneddfechan.
The first four can be reached (conditions permitting) from the path next to the Angel Inn in Pontneddfechan. The final waterfall in this section, Sychryd Falls, can be accessed via Dinas Rock, a well-known Brecon Beacons landmark, ¾ mile (1.2 km) along Dinas Road at the other end of Pontneddfechan.
Sgwd yr Eira can also be reached from a path next to Dinas Rock.
Sgwd Gwladys Waterfall
The 25-minute trail to Sgwd Gwladys – sometimes called Lady Falls – is one of the most popular Brecon Beacons walks. This is partly because of its relative ease, and also because it’s the most accessible spot of sylvan paradise in the Beacons.
The walk to Sgwd Gwladys begins just behind the Angel Inn in Pontneddfechan, and is a predominantly flat path running alongside the Afon Nedd Fechan river. It has recently been renamed the Elidir Trail, and a branch of this leads off to the right – and the Ddwli Falls (see below) shortly before Sgwd Gwladys comes into view.
Sgwd Gwladys is a gorgeous waterfall, formed by the Afon Pyrddin crashing over part of a rocky ledge into a plunge pool around 10 metres below. For a relatively small waterfall, it makes an incredibly loud sound, especially if it’s anywhere near full spate.
The approach to the falls is on the right-hand side of the glade. If the flow is moderate, you can walk behind the curtain of water, but beware the slippery surface.
Gwladys – sometimes spelt Gwladus – was a 5th century Welsh saint, the daughter of king Brychan of Brycheiniog. She married Gwynllyw, who also became a saint (also known as Woolos, patron saint of the cathedral in Newport) and one of her sons, Cadoc, was one of the most prominent early Welsh saints.
Sgwd Einion Gam
Sgwd Einion Gam – the Fall of the Crooked Anvil – is the second highest Brecon Beacons waterfall after Henrhyd Falls, at 70 feet, and it’s the most difficult to reach.
The waterfall is a few minutes’ upstream on the Afon Pyrddin from the more famous Sgwd Gwladys. A local friend advised me to only attempt to reach Sgwd Einion Gam if the water level was low, with Sgwd Gwladys little more than a trickle.
The path beyond Sgwd Gwladys runs out after a few minutes, after which the only way to proceed is fording the river. I did so three or four times, as I considered it easier than returning to the precarious path in the woodland to my right.
Sgwd Einion Gam is only around ten minutes’ walk upstream from Sgwd Gwladys.
Upper and Lower Ddwli Falls
These two falls can be reached via the Elidir Trail, following the route uphill from the approach to Sgwd Gwladys.
The path runs through forest high above the Nedd Fechan river, before reaching a more open area where you can walk uphill with the river on your right.
The Ddwli Falls are in two sections. You reach Sgwd Ddwli Isaf (Lower Ddwli Falls) first – there is a narrow main waterfall, and a smaller set of falls cascading from the plunge pool area.
Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf – Upper Ddwli Falls – can be reached by crossing the narrow channel next to the small set of falls.
These falls – Sgwd Sychryd in Welsh – are relatively easy to reach, via a path from Dinas Rock (Craig y Ddinas), but getting a decent view involves a hairy scramble down slippery rocks, which isn’t for everyone.
Head up the path on the left-hand side of Dinas Rock, then follow the sign to Penderyn at the top. An unmarked path on the right less than 100 metres ahead leads you the short distance to bridge above the falls.
You can get down to a viewpoint, the plunge pool or even the lower falls by scrambling, but I decided against it.
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Other Brecon Beacons Waterfalls
Henrhyd Falls (Sgwd Henrhyd) is the highest waterfall in South Wales, with a 90 feet (27 metre) drop. The waterfall is around 5 miles (8 km) west of the Waterfall Country area, near the village of Coelbren.
It’s an enchanting place, reached via a steep downhill walk from the National Trust car park (grid reference SN 853121 or postcode SA10 9PH). It’s quite easy to get some of the waterfalls confused as they look very similar – Henrhyd’s distinguishing feature is the large fallen tree that lies below it.
Fans of Batman may well be familiar with Henrhyd as it is the location of the Bat Cave in The Dark Knight Rises.
Blaen y Glyn, Afon Caerfanell
A smaller collection Brecon Beacons waterfalls can be found off one of the best Beacons backroads, the minor road leading from Pontsticill to Talybont Reservoir.
These are around ten miles (16 km) north-east of the Ystradfellte and Pontneddfechan waterfalls as the crow flies, and are on the lower slopes of the Pen y Fan massif.
The Nant Bwrefwr stream flows down from the mountain, eventually meeting the Afon Caerfanell, which flows the short distance into Talybont reservoir at the bottom of the valley.
When I visited, we parked at the Blaen y Glyn Uchaf car park and followed the steep path downhill alongside Nant Bwrefwr, which has some beautiful cascading sections. The path to the lower car park – Blaen y Glyn Isaf – is around a kilometre long, and if you turn left at the bottom, you’ll reach the largest of these falls, a splendid sight.
These falls are nowhere near any bus connections, but the upper car park is only around a mile’s walk from Torpantau station, the terminus of the Brecon Mountain Railway.
Clydach Gorge near Gilwern
The other Clydach river is commonly called Clydach Gorge, and lies on the opposite (eastern) side of the Brecon Beacons National Park, between Brynmawr and Gilwern. It’s also at the opposite end of the South Wales coalfield, and was one of the first areas to be industrialised.
The Clydach Gorge isn’t the easiest place to explore, as a network of paths between points of interest hasn’t been fully developed. There are several waterfalls along the Gorge, as well as the remains of a late 18th century ironworks.
Where Are The Brecon Beacons Waterfalls
Brecon Beacons Waterfall Country is a small area in the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park between the villages of Ystradfellte and Pontneddfechan.
Henrhyd Falls is a short distance away from this concentration of waterfalls, near the village of Coelbren. There are also some waterfalls in the Neath Valley, just outside the National Park boundary, including the impressive Melin Court Falls, one of the most picturesque of all Welsh waterfalls.
There is also a series of waterfalls between Torpantau and Talybont Reservoir, to the south-east of Pen y Fan, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons.
How To Get To The Brecon Beacons Waterfalls
We like to promote the usage of public transport wherever possible, but if you want to explore the Brecon Beacons waterfalls, you will need a car to get around.
The Heads of the Valleys A465 road runs to the small town of Glynneath, from where you continue to Pontneddfechan and, via a minor road, to Ystradfellte.
Buses from Glynneath run to Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte on weekends during the summer months, and hopefully this will continue every year. This gives access to the two main Brecon Beacons waterfalls walks, which is wonderful.
The other waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons National Park – and those just outside it – are scattered widely and sporadically around a very large area. And you really do need your own vehicle if you’re exploring anywhere off the beaten path in the Brecon Beacons.
Best Time To Visit Brecon Beacons Waterfalls
The waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons are wonderful to visit at any time of year. Especially after some rain. It may be stating the obvious, but if there hasn’t been rain in the area for a couple of weeks, the waterfalls will be less impressive than usual.
The Brecon Beacons waterfalls are one of the best places to visit in Wales in autumn, especially towards the end of October and early November when the leaf colours are at their best.
Spring and summer are normally good times to embark on a Brecon Beacons waterfall walk, especially with the rich, fresh green colours returning to the landscape.
Winter around the Brecon Beacons waterfalls can also be hugely impressive, especially when the falls partially freeze over. However, black ice often forms, even on the easiest Brecon Beacons waterfall paths including the one to Sgwd Gwladys, and conditions can be treacherous underfoot. So be careful.
Waterfalls Near The Brecon Beacons National Park
Melin Court Falls, Resolven
Also called Melincourt Falls or Melin Cwrt falls, this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Wales, but gets a fraction of the visitors that some of the Brecon Beacons waterfalls do. This is largely down to it being outside the National Park boundary.
It’s one of the best waterfalls in South Wales, with an 80-foot (24 metre) cascade crashing onto vast rocks below. JMW Turner sketched the waterfall when he visited in 1794, in the early stages of his career.
Melin Court falls are easier to reach than any of the other falls in the area. They are close to the hamlet of Melin Court, just outside the village of Resolven, around 5 miles (8 km) down the Neath Valley from Pontneddfechan.
The 55 and X5 buses (between Neath and Glynneath) both stop close to the falls, otherwise the car park (signposted off the B4434) is across the road from the path to the falls.
The path to the Melin Court Waterfall is easy, taking a little over ten minutes.
The power of the waterfalls at Aberdulais, on the outskirts of Neath, has been harnessed since 1584 when copper was smelted at the site to make coins to finance Elizabeth I’s fight against the Spanish Armada.
The site was also later used as a major tinplate works, and still generates electricity with its water wheel, at over 8 metres in diameter the largest in Europe to generate power.
The falls are very close to the ‘aber’ – estuary or confluence in this case – of the Dulais river as it flows into the Afon Nedd (River Neath) a few miles before the sea.
Clydach River near Neath
Confusingly, there are two Clydach rivers close to the Brecon Beacons National Park, and both have waterfalls.
The Afon Clydach rises near Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, and flows a few miles before joining the river Neath just after the ruin of Neath Abbey.
There are three small waterfalls along the river, all within a short distance of the road.
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