Four Waterfalls Walk: A Brecon Beacons secret you must explore

The Brecon Beacons Four Waterfalls Walk

The Brecon Brecons four waterfalls walk is an under 6-mile circular walking trail in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales. The 4 Waterfalls Walk is also one of the most visited and beautiful hiking routes in Wales. The total distances walked will vary depending on your starting point (which is covered in the FAQs section at the bottom of this page).

Located in Aberdare, about one hour away from Cardiff in Wales, 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 waterfall, Sgwd y Pannwr waterfall, and Sgwd yr Eira waterfall.

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

The best times of year to travel along the Four Waterfall walk are in spring when the greenery is at its most vibrant and stunning, and autumn when the foliage and grass shift into a captivating range of hues and colours.

Cascade washing over the falls
Cascade washing over the falls

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

The Four Waterfalls walk trail

Well marked and easy to follow, the Four Waterfalls trail 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 on 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 trail 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 waterfall, after forming a large circular pattern, the path rejoins the mud/gravel track leading back to the car park.

Points of interest you’ll find near the waterfalls

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

Other sights to watch out for include:

Wildlife: watch out for these animals along the trail

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: an awe-inspiring glimpse into the natural history around the area

Mostly oak and ash. And like many 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 of the Brecon Beacons’ past.

The Four Falls walk: hiking the main trail for a truly breathtaking hike

Each of the waterfalls has its 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 trail.

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

Sgwd Clun-Gywn
Sgwd Clun-Gywn

Walking to the first of the four waterfalls, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, takes you from the breathtaking, and very wild beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park, into a place of calm and serenity. Edged left and right by a deep valley, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn waterfall is fed by the Mellte River, one of the most beautiful in South Wales. 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 Sgwd Clun-Gwyn waterfall is easier than the other three as it lies closest to the walking trail that circumnavigates the waterfalls.

Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

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 waterfall can only be reached by travelling down a set of steep and very muddy steps. Sadly, this isn’t a trial we recommend for wheelchair users or infirm people.

Beyond the soft sound of water cascading into the river below, the Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn 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 to the smallest, and possibly most beautiful of the four falls.

Sgwd y Pannwr

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 the waterfall long before you see it. To get to the waterfall, you need to follow a muddy and uneven trail that takes you over the river before you scramble over rocks to arrive at the base of the waterfall.

This is the highest of the four waterfalls and the pools are 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 trail 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.

Note: the river Hepste is one of the few rivers in Wales that runs within the borders of the Brecon Beacons.

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 allow you to explore 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 a country lane which leads you back to the car park.


Brecon Waterfall

The Four Waterfalls Walk Quick Guide

Location: Aberdare, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, UK

Difficult level: intermediate

Walking time: 4 hours hiking, on average

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

Walking trail accessibility and conditions: not suitable for wheelchairs and bicycles. In winter the main trail can be very muddy and slippery.

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

The Four Waterfalls walk is one of those lesser-known gems in the Welsh countryside. If you’re in the area or heading to the Brecon Beacons, it’s well worth taking time to explore and maybe soaking under a waterfall, or two.

Related Articles

Back to top button