A day out in the winter can be well spent admiring the effects of recent rains on the dramatic waterfalls in the southern part of the Brecon Beacons near Ystradgynlais. Choose from a number of walks of various lengths and difficulty; wrap up warm and take your waterproofs.
If you visit Carreg Cennen in the morning, it’s possible to fit in an afternoon walk in the acclaimed Waterfall Country of the Brecon Beacons. Starting from the village of Trapp, you drive through some extraordinary woodland on a minor road before reaching Brynaman and the Black Mountain Centre. It is open only on weekdays from 9 am to 4.30 pm but is one of the few places to get a bite to eat on this southern edge of the Black Mountain. The Centre has tourist information as well as art and heritage exhibitions.
Travel east, bypassing Ystradgynlais until you see a signpost for Henrhyd Falls. These are the highest falls in South Wales at 27 metres. If you have time the same day, continue east to the Waterfall Centre at Pontneddfechan near Glyn-Neath. There are fabulous walks from there around the falls on the Nedd Fechan or Mellte rivers. Or you can drive north to Ystradfellte and begin a walk from there. It is best to check at the Waterfalls Centre first as some of the paths can be very muddy after a spell of wet weather and some are more demanding or dangerous than others.
The woodland is ancient and moss creeps up tree trunks and over stones; there are many textures and colours to admire such as the miniature canyon shown in this photograph.
River fanatics like me will exclaim at how tempting it is to jump in and sit in the natural jacuzzi pools or in the shallows to enjoy the massaging jets of water rushing over your skin. Of course it’s always too cold to do this without a wet suit, but some hardy bathers might chance it in the summer.
The waterfalls are delicious; you can quench your thirst just by looking at them. The calmly flowing water above the Sgwd Gwladus cascade pushes gentle, barely rippled, shallow arcs of water across the gleaming bedrock, smoothly contrasting with the rushing torrent which abruptly bursts into life, throwing itself into the unfathomably deep pool beneath it in an agitated froth.
Depending on where you’re based, you might choose to drive back across the A4089 mountain pass which takes you to Llandovery. The moorland is bleak and bare but textures and views are extraordinary. There are mountain ponies grazing and the newly surfaced road cuts through the yellow-tinged landscape like a rippling black snake.
A welcome end to the day in attractive surroundings can be found at the Castle Inn Hotel in Llandovery, where the chef has created a tempting and original menu offering vegetarian options such as falafel with home-made flat bread. I had lamb confit perched on top of a mound of mashed potato with a few winter greens. It reminded me of Carreg Cennen.
If you would like to visit the Waterfall Country in the Brecon Beacons, why not stay in one of our Carmarthenshire holiday cottages?