My parents were down last weekend which provided the perfect excuse for a return visit to waterfall country, an area in the South Brecon Beacons synonymous with falls of water. Ahem. We last walked this route from Pontneddfechan in September of last year and one of my regrets from that day was not photographing the remains of the silica tramway along whose route the path initially treads. Built in the nineteenth century its construction was crude by more modern standards using roughly cut stone sleepers into which rails would have been fixed. Though the rails are long since gone several sections of well preserved sleepers remain, easily overlooked but well worth spending the time to seek out.
Of course the main attractions up here are the waterfalls and chief amongst them is Sgwd Gwladus. With a clean drop of some six meters it’s one of the most enduring images of this area and sits in sharp contrast to the rolling peaks with which the national park is more typically associated. Water levels today were about normal for the time of year but I’d love to see it in full spate following a period of heavy rainfall or snow melt. The sight of water cascading over the entire width of that stone lip must surely be one not easily forgotten.
Further upstream are the smaller Scwd Ddwli falls. Despite what these images may show the walk was proving extremely popular with many people taking advantage of the deep plunge pools to cool off in what were proving very humid conditions. I can’t blame them but it didn’t half prove tricky getting a natural image without someone’s head popping up where it was definitely not wanted.
One of the real highlights from last years visit was the abundance of bird life, predominantly Dippers and Grey Wagtails but also a surprise trio of Goosanders. All three breed along this river and although numbers were down this time around, presumably due to how busy it was, there was still plenty to see. Our Goosander fill came early on with a snoozing individual mid-river but Dippers and Grey Wagtails were a regular occurrence throughout the day. Shady conditions made photography slightly tricky but I ended up coming away with a couple of images with which I’m fairly pleased.
The end point of our walk was Pont Melin-fach, an idyllic woodland clearing once home to an old mill but now dominated by an arched stone bridge. Unfortunately it turns out that a passing lorry has knocked the parapet wall off the latter in recent weeks which is certainly a shame but by no means the end of the drama played out here of late. Just last week a walker slipped on one of the waterfalls downstream and had to be airlifted out thanks to some outstanding flying by our local search and rescue helicopter. Just goes to show that even the quietest areas often have a story to tell.