Just over a week has passed since my return from the Hadrian’s Wall Path walk, and I’ve been grappling with a weird sense of lethargy, perhaps a bit of post-hike blues. The thrill of the through-hike adventure had probably spiked my dopamine levels, and its abrupt end (+ a busy work week) left a void. To fill this, last night, I turned to the OS map, packed my bag, and decided to embark on another (smaller) journey – this time to Wales.
After leaving the main road, the drive towards Ystradfellte was nothing short of surreal. The last two miles were through a landscape filled with low ferns and roaming sheep; it felt eerie. It was a scene straight out of a painting. It was starting to rain.
With a much smaller and lighter backpack than last week, I decided to hit the trail immediately, hoping for the clouds to part soon. My pack held the essentials – 1.5L of water, first aid kit, some food, spare socks, sun cream ( over-optimistic anticipation of the sun), and my battery pack. Equipped only with my fleece and cap for weather protection (I forgot my rain jacket), I stepped onto the trail.
The trail to the waterfalls was a stark reminder of the impermanence of nature. The once healthy trees that lined the path looked damaged and diseased, a stark contrast from my visit almost two years ago. Their plight was painfully evident when compared to the picture that is on the main header of my site.
But the journey must go on, and it led me to the first waterfall, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, just after 10 o’clock. A serene stroll through a valley and a charming forest lead to this stunning waterfall, where the River Mellte gushes towards a drop and disappears below the cliff edge.
The drizzle persisted, making the stones leading to the waterfall viewing spot slippery. But, it was warm, and the drizzle was strangely refreshing.
Next came Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, a charming waterfall, secluded amongst woodland. The journey to it involved descending several flights of steep, muddy stairs, leading to a river nestled on a bed of black rock.
Following a muddy trail over the river from Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, I reached the highest waterfall, Sgwd y Pannwr. The sounds of rushing water could be heard before the fall even became visible. It flows down elegantly, step by step into the riverbed, a sight that leaves you in awe of its beauty. I love being by water and this felt just right.
I then went onto Sgwd yr Eira, the final and the largest waterfall on the trail. The descent to this waterfall was steep but with steps so not as strenuous. It rewarded me with a stunning view of the waterfall rushing down, a bit like a white veil. You can walk behind the curtain of cascading water! It felt very special.I didn’t get to experience this last time I visited so this was great!
After the short climb from the top of the fourth waterfall, I returned to the car park. In total the walk was just under 3 hours, covering 8.5km. The grey weather persisted, with fog and mist still hanging over the valley. But it was warm, and the drizzle was not an issue.
Deciding to make the most of my visit, I then went down to the cave, from the car park. The shift in temperature was noticeable as I descended the steps, the cold air bringing back childhood memories of visiting caves. Although it was getting busy and the car parks were full for the waterfalls walk, I had the cave to myself, engulfed in silence. It’s likely a place more suited for experienced visitors and maybe I wasn’t allowed to be there.
As I drove away from the valley, the weather decided to surprise me. Just a mile from the car park, I was greeted with beautiful skies and lovely sunny weather.
My next stop was Penderyn, where I picked up a present for a friend’s birthday. For anyone who enjoys a good whisky, I highly recommend stopping here. The lady in the shop was very helpful, and they offer visits every open hour, seven days a week.
On my way home, I stopped at Merthyr Tudful to charge my car and grab lunch.
This trip was a much-needed respite, but the next few weeks are going to be busy. My next hike might not be until late July, but I’ll post again soon about my plans for my next through-hike. Until then, keep exploring the outdoors!