Cascading waterfalls, breathtaking views and mysterious legends are overflowing in Wales and have created an unparalleled country for walkers and adventurers.
A waterfall is a remarkable natural phenomenon, the tumbling water catches the light in astonishing ways and, under the right conditions, can even create a microcosmic rainbow. Wales is home to a surprising number of these treasures whose beauty has inspired myths and legends; we’ve even written a piece about it.
Not only is Wales home to magnificent waterfalls but you can also discover incredible panoramas and secret walking trails that crisscross the region. The views across the Brecon Beacons are extraordinary and Snowdonia unforgettable.
We firmly believe that some of the most astonishing and eerily beautiful walks in the UK pass or end when you meet a spectacular waterfall. That’s what makes Wales so perfect for walkers! It’s time you visited and uncovered the waterfalls hidden throughout Wales, that’s why we’ve put together this list. The routes mentioned below allow you to climb to the very top of a 73-metre waterfall, trek to a lake that features in an Arthurian legend and wander beneath the waterfall that leads to Batman’s cave.
Read on to uncover the mysteries and hidden beauty of these secretive trails.
Walking the Brecon Beacons
Otherwise known as waterfall country, the Brecon Beacons are already a world-renowned national treasure and wonderful natural reserve with scenery that’ll make you catch your breath.
The Brecon Beacons is home to the tallest waterfall in South Wales, Henrhyd Falls, with two stunning walks that wind through the mountains. It’s all National Trust-owned land and as such has been maintained to best protect the local wildlife and nature that thrive here.
This trail begins close to the falls and affords you the chance to walk up to a second waterfall, Nant Llech, and past a disused watermill called Melin Llech.
Passing over a bridge and heading along a footpath takes you into the cavern behind the falls where you can watch as the water drops down into the river below; you’re close enough to feel the spray as the water thunders down on the rocky ground. Take care as the spray can cause the ground to become slippery underfoot.
Follow the footpath beside the Nant Llech river and you’ll pass an old landslide and the Melin Llech watermill. Altogether it’s a moderate 3.5-mile walk that can take around 2 hours 30 minutes to complete.
If you wish to go on a shorter but equally special visit to the falls, walk 1-mile to take in the spectacular sight then return to base via the same route.
On holiday by the falls:
Brecon Beacons Barn, sleeps 6 and 2 dogs (24 miles)
The Four Falls
Just across the valley from the wonder of Henrhyd Falls you can uncover one of the most popular and exciting walks in this list, The Four Falls walk is aptly named as you will pass by the cascading water of four separate but equally magnificent waterfalls.
Sgwd Clun-Gwyn is the first of the falls that you’ll stumble across, although truthfully it is two separate waterfalls with one rushing down a series of steps a few hundred metres from the other. The Welsh name for these two waterways means ‘fall of the white meadow’.
Nearby, find yourself approaching the Sgwd y Pannwr or ‘Fall of the Fuller’; a low but wide fall of water that flows into a pool and continues down the slope as part of the river.
The final stop and by far the most photographed of the four falls, is the beautiful Sgwd yr Eira or ‘Waterfall of Snow’. The best thing about this route is that you can walk behind the curtain of water and watch as it thunders into the river below your feet.
Over 3 hours long, this wonderful trail is worth putting aside half a day for, so you can uncover the hidden treasures of Wales’ waterfall country.
Visit all four waterfalls from your retreat:
The Bothy, sleeps 4 (28 miles)
A magical place that has spawned myths about the beings that live there, The Elidir Trail passes two stunning waterfalls that connect to the Nedd Fechan river. It can take about 2 hours to complete this moderate trail but people have been known to spend the entire day exploring and taking photos of the sights.
Beginning close to the Angel Public House, a great place to start and end your journey, you first enter the trail through a metal gate and pass the towering black rock. Along this journey you’ll also pass an old mill and flooded silica mine. Cross over the bridge, follow the river left and you’ll soon find yourself at the gorgeous Sgwd Gwladus (Lady Falls), reputedly one of the best places for wild swimming in Wales.
Double-back to the bridge and this time head right to find more hidden waterfalls. Pont Melin Fach (Horseshoe Falls) is the first you’ll pass and as you meander your way along this path bypass Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (the Lower and Upper Gushing Falls) before ending at Pont Melin-Fach, a picnic area where you can sit awhile before doubling back on yourself to the carpark.
Local legends tell of a fairy kingdom hidden along the river Nedd’s banks. Why not see if you can uncover this mysterious place? Or simply take in the splendour of the crashing waterfalls.
Stay in the Black Mountains:
Pen y Garn, sleeps 6 guests and 1 dog (30 miles)
Pistyll Rhaeadr four walks
If Henrhyd Falls isn’t enough then escape to North Wales in search of the most impressive waterfall of all, Pistyll Rhaeadr.
The tallest waterfall in Wales is the Pistyll Rhaeadr. Do not miss this spectacular sight! Pistyll Rhaeadr is 73 metres high and draws walkers from all over. As the tallest fall in Wales it’s a popular destination for walkers and it also has a tearoom to accommodate hungry, thirsty travellers.
Capture a pic with a friend standing in shot to establish just how majestic this iconic waterfall truly is. The falls are incredibly instagrammable so make sure you share your stunning images of this mystical place with the world.
There are four different walks you can choose from to uncover this gem.
Climb to the top of the falls
The most popular route is also the shortest at 3 miles long and takes you to the top of the waterfall. It can be a rough climb and it is not advisable to undertake the ascent in bad weather, but it does allow you a chance to enjoy incredible scenery and to look down as the water crashes onto the rocks far beneath you.
Follow the public footpath for about 20 minutes to reach the summit or cross the iron bridge and you’ll be in forested territory. This route then leads you away from the falls and into the mountain trails.
The Berwyn Ridge
This is the longest and most suitable for true adventurers. It leads you high, up steep mountain climbs to some fantastic views and is 7 miles in length. Ensure you have good walking shoes and don’t risk this climb in bad weather as rain, wind and snow can cause this terrain to become treacherous.
The Old Lead and Silver Mines
A much kinder track that takes you along the river and to a terrific vantage point on the opposite bank from which you have an unforgettable view of the grand falls.
It is 3 miles and has much to see, you’ll come across the old East Llangynog silver mine, slag workings, walk through a wooded copse to cascading mini-waterfalls, before heading back to base.
Finally, we come to the Llyn Lluncaws walk, a relatively moderate footpath at 4 miles long which begins and ends at the café, a great way to bookend your journey around the falls.
You’ll climb over stiles, pass a small tumbledown stream, walk up a valley and eventually stumble across a flat expanse of calm water. This is Llyn Lluncaws, a mythical lake found in ancient Arthurian legend. It’s a peculiar spot as the name actually means 'the lake of cheese' and the Arthurian myth describes it as home to a wise, talking fish. If you see unusual ripples on the surface of the water, you now know what creature may be lurking beneath in the deep.
After the lake, you can choose to follow the path up to the waterfall or return to the café for a much-needed cup of tea.
Cappele Cottage, sleeps 4 and 1 dog (36 miles)
Gilar House, sleeps 10 and 1 dog (36 miles)
Feeling inspired to discover more of this beautiful region? Wales is full of spectacular sights and wonderful walks so if you're in search of more trails, take a peek at this piece. Or peruse our secluded cottages throughout waterfall country, otherwise known as the world-renowned Brecon Beacons.