Enjoy a walk through Welsh Waterfall Country and follow in the footsteps of a local boy who happened upon a ‘fairy kingdom’ in the magical National Park.
This stunning, six-mile trail retraces the footsteps of local boy Elidir who, legend has it, discovered the entrance to a secret fairy kingdom somewhere along its path. The walk begins behind the Angel Inn in the village of Pontneddfechan – look out for a metal gate that welcomes you to Bro’r Sgydau, Welsh for ‘Waterfall Country’. Follow the purple waymarkers with the Nedd Fechan river rumbling below to your right and the air spiced with the scent of wild garlic.
The route is accessible to wheelchair users up to the first picnic area, but then becomes more uneven until it arrives at a wooden footbridge. Cross over this and follow the right-hand bank of the River Pyrddin (and the green arrows) to the first of four waterfalls along the trail.
Like all good waterfalls, and especially after some decent April showers, you should hear Sgwd Gwladus or ‘Lady Falls’ before you see it. The sound of the water pouring into a pool the colour of cold tea, some twenty feet below, is amplified by an amphitheatre of rocky cliffs. Keep an eye out for dippers here. These dumpy, aquatic songbirds can be seen bobbing up and down on riverside rocks before dashing underwater in search of food.
Double back to the bridge and turn left, following the Nedd Fechan again and the signs to Pont Melin-fach. The path then climbs high above the river before descending to the second waterfall – Sgwd y Bedol or ‘Horseshoe Falls’. Here, the water flows over three semi-circular tiers before slipping into an inviting green pool.
Continue upstream, crossing a wide plateau of rock and another wooden footbridge. Sgwd Ddwli Isaf or ‘Lower Gushing Falls’ soon appears – a no-nonsense fall that plunges straight down over a sudden step in the river’s rocky bed. A little further along, the trail saves its finest feature till last.
You’ll first glimpse the fourth fall – Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf or ‘Upper Gushing Falls’ – through the oak and ash trees, before a narrow path takes you to its very top. Take a moment to watch the river thundering over this classically-wide, handsome cataract. After this dramatic finish, it’s a gentle 15-minute stroll upriver (looking out for kingfishers on the way) to the picnic area at Pont Melin-fach. Then, go with the flow and follow the river on its dramatic journey back down this spectacular valley.
Getting there Take the GWR train to Neath. Local buses run from here to Pontneddfechan.