Destinations

The Four Waterfalls Walk: Brecon Beacons

The Four waterfalls walk is an under 6 mile circular walking route in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, Wales. It’s also one of the most visited and beautiful hiking routes in Wales. The total distances walked will vary depending on your starting point (which are covered in the FAQs section at the bottom of this page).

Located in Aberdare, about one hour away from Cardiff, the trail takes in some of the most beautiful scenery in the heart of the Welsh hills and valleys, including four falls: Sgwed Clun-Gwyn waterfall, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwny wtarfall, Sgwd y Pannwr waterfall, and Sgwd yr Eira waterfall.

Weaving through forest and open moorland, the Four Waterfalls walk follows the rivers Mellte and Hepste. Mostly moderate going and with a couple steep climbs, the route is perfect for a family day out or as a section in a longer distance hike. Be warned: if you have small children they may need to be carried in places.

The best time of year to walk the route are in spring, when the greenery is at iti’s most vibrant and stunning, and autumn when the foliage and grass shift into a captivating range of hues and colours.

Note: the are some sections of the walk that are hard going and not suitable for wheelchairs, or bicycles.

The Four Waterfalls Route

Well marked and easy to follow, the Four Waterfalls route starts from two car parks: Cwm Porth, located at OS grid reference SN 928 124, and Gwaun Hepste, located at OS grid reference SN 935 123 (both locations can be found of Ordnance Survey map number OL12). Follow the sign from the car park onto the trail which takes you on a round robin trip past the four of the most soul stirring falls in Wales.

The halfway point of the route is located close to Sgwd yr Eira, where you take an opportunity to rest and soak up the views of the river Hepste. From here, you can turn around and follow the path back, or continue along the trail.

At Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, after forming a large circular pattern, the path re-joins the mud/gravel track leading back to the car park.

Points of Interest

The obvious points of interest along the way are the four waterfalls: Sgwed Clun-Gwyn waterfall, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwny wtarfall, Sgwd y Pannwr waterfall, and Sgwd yr Eira.

Other sights to watch out for include:

Wildlife

If you walk quietly on the trail, you may be fortunate to spot some of the many birds that have made the woodlands their home. These include woodpeckers, wrens and, my favourite, tree creepers. And squirrels, of course.

If you’re near the falls in the evening you can expect to hear the bark of foxes, and maybe the bustle of badgers as they forage in the night.

Plant life

Mostly oak and ash. And like maybe of the ancient oaks that dot the Welsh countryside, many of the oaks are staggering; vast and aged, with blankets of moss and ferns coating their muscular branches. This truly feels like stepping back into some primordial era.

The Waterfalls

Each of the waterfalls has its own distinct charm and character. Accessing each is relatively easy but be aware there are parts of the walk that are muddy and steep, making accessibility an issue for some people. The detailed sections below will give you an idea of what to expect when walking this route.

Sgwed Clun-Gwyn waterfall

Sgwd Clun-Gywn
Sgwd Clun-Gywn

Walking to the first of the four waterfalls takes you from the breath-taking, and very wild beauty of the Brecon Beacons, into a place of calm and serenity. Edged left and right by a deep valley, Sgwe Clun-Gwyn waterfall is fed by the Mellte river. As you walk deeper into this valley, you’ll notice the Brecons are no longer visible, hidden by steep hills.

The approach is through a small, but dense, crop of woodland and when you reach the falls, you’ll be greeted by the site of the Mellte waters flowing over the cliff and down into a vast pool.

Access to this waterfall is easier than the other three as it lies closest to the walking trail that circumnavigates the four waterfalls.

Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn wtarfall

Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn
Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

Re-join the woodland trail and continue walking until you reach a small path that will deliver you to the second and third falls. Access to the pools now becomes a little harder as you progress, and Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn can only be reached by travelling down a set of steep and very muddy steps. Sadly, this isn’t a route we recommend for wheelchair users, or infirm people.

Beyond the soft sound of water cascading into the river below, the waterfall is difficult to make out at first as the view of partially blocked by a large tree. But once you step past this obstacle, you’ll be treated the smallest, and possibly most beautiful for the four waterfalls.

Sgwd y Pannwr waterfall

Sgwd y Pannwr
Sgwd y Pannwr Falls, waterfall.

The character of Sgwd y Pannwr is in stark contrast to that of Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwny; you’ll hear the heavy cascade of water long before you see it. To get to the fall, you need to follow a muddy and uneven trail that takes you over the river, then scramble over rocks before you arrive at the base of the waterfall.

This is the highest of the four waterfalls and the pools the deepest, making it the perfect location for a dip in the waters on a hot summer’s day.

Sgwd yr Eira

Sgwd yr Eira
Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall in Brecon Beacons National Park.

To reach this waterfall, you’ll need to re-join the main woodland path and travel until you find another small junction that takes you to the falls. Steep and muddy, the route down to the pool and falls is hard work, but the experience is more than worth the effort.

Once you reach the river Hepste, above which stands the waterfall, you’ll need to scramble over rocks to reach your destination.

The largest of the 4 falls on the trail, Sgwd yr Eira has a hidden secret. Well, not so very hidden. A narrow walkway will take you behind the waterfall, but be careful as it is very slippery.

Head back up the steep incline and onto the trail, which connects a to country lane which leads you back to the car park.

FAQs

The Four Waterfalls Walk Quick Guide

Location: Aberdare, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, UK

Difficult level: intermediate

Walking time: 4 hours, on average

Total distance: 5.6 miles (9km) from Cwm Porth car park; 5.5 miles (8.8km) from Gwaun Hepste car park.

Walking route accessibility and conditions: not suitable for wheelchairs and bicycles. In winter the Four Waterfalls route and be very muddy and slippery.

Toilets: both car parks have public conveniences open all year round.

The Four Waterfalls walks is one those lesser-known gems in the Welsh countryside. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth the visit.

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