Waterfall Country Walk

12+ mile circular hike from Pontneddfechan along a connected set of the Waterfall Country Walking Trails in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Waterfall Country Walk: Information Board at Pontneddfechan
Waterfall Country Walk: Information Board at Pontneddfechan

We took the Elidir Trail from Pontneddfechan village to Pont Melin-Fach picnic site, walking alongside the lovely Afon Pyrddin to Sgwd Gwladus (Lady Falls) and then up the Nedd Fechan to Pont Melin-Fach via Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls) and Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (Lower and Upper Gushing Falls). Purple on the tourist map and signposts.

Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls)
Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls)

From Pont Melin-Fach we followed one of the Waterfall Link Paths to the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority car park and picnic site at Cwm Porth. This isn’t as well walked as the main trails and the route was tricker to find and to follow. Grey on the tourist map and green on the signposts. Soggy feet after crossing the fields.

Waterfall Country Walk: Waterfall Link Trail, following the Nedd Fechan upstream
Waterfall Country Walk: Waterfall Link Trail, following the Nedd Fechan upstream

Another (much – much – more obvious) Waterfall Link Path led from Cwm Porth to join the The Four Falls Trail that run above and then along the Afon Mellte taking in Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (White Meadow Falls), Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn (Lower White Meadow Falls) and Sgwd y Pannwr (Fuller’s Falls) – and some super balanced stone piles. From Sgwd y Pannwr we climbed back up through the forest and dropped down to the Afon Hepste for the “you can walk behind it” delights of Sgwd-yr-Eira (Snow Waterfall). Red on the tourist map and signposts / Green for the Waterfall Link Path sections. Very, very busy.

Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd yr Eira Trail - Sgwd yr Eira (Snow Waterfalls)
Waterfall Country Walk: Sgwd yr Eira (Snow Waterfalls)

The Sgwd yr Eira Trail then brought us back to Dinas Rock (yellow on the tourist map and signposts) and a short stretch along the road back into Pontneddfechan – for a perfect pint at The Angel Inn.

Sugar Loaf Circular

A super 2 hour 20 mins walk summiting Sugar Loaf / Pen y Fâl (596m) in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Magic views all the way, especially from the top.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama - Trig point to Skirrid
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama – Trig point to Skirrid

It’s single track roads (and a few steep sections too) from the A40 to the car park at Mynydd Llanwenarth. I parked too soon, joining the other cars on a large grassy flat patch a couple of minutes’ walk before the tarmaced National Trust car park.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf car park, looking across the Usk Valley towards The Blorenge
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf car park, looking across the Usk Valley towards The Blorenge

Having checked out the information board, I continued along the road from the car park, which is an unmetalled stony track that gradually peters out into a wide grassy path through the tall green bracken. And sheep.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf summit from the lower slopes
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf summit from the lower slopes

Staying (relatively) low, the trail skirts the dry stone walls that mark the end of the fields and the start of the open land. The trail drops down to a small stream, alongside (on your left) what would have been woods but which have been cleared since the Countryfile route was published. Looking upstream you have a clear view of the summit.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Descent into the (no longer) wooded valley
Sugar Loaf Circular: Descent into the (no longer) wooded valley

It’s a shallow stream, easily crossed with or without DIY stepping stones, then the path climbs up from the stream. For a shorter walk, there’s the option of the trail joining in on your right (very obvious in my photo above), but for the longer route (and better views) I kept left and at the top of the diagonal slope the path levelled off and continued towards Llanbedr contouring round the slopes between bracken and the field line.

All along this first half of the route there are great views out over the valley of the River Usk from The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch, and up into the Heads of the Valley (the “new” road – A465 – is the giveaway).

Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama: The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch
Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama: The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch

Shortly after passing below some piles of stones (industrial rather than ancient, balanced or cairn), there’s an obvious crossroads of paths and clear views ahead towards Llanbedr, and a particularly prominent farm. Turn right up the grassy path and climb the ridge that leads to the summit.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Looking towards Llanbedr - when you see the farm, you're ready to turn right onto the ridge
Sugar Loaf Circular: Looking towards Llanbedr – when you see the farm, you’re ready to turn right onto the ridge

The ridge route starts steeply, eases off a little into bilberries and heather, then there’s a stiffer climb up to and over the rocky outcrop that marks the start of the summit plateau.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Grassy path up to the summit
Sugar Loaf Circular: Grassy path up to the summit

The summit plateau provides 360° panoramas plus a trig point and plenty of space to sit and enjoy the views out over Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Powys.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama to the north west
Sugar Loaf Circular: Panorama to the north west
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama south east
Sugar Loaf Circular: Summit Panorama south east

It was a straightforward descent down the main trail taken by people doing Sugar Loaf as a there-and-back.

Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf descent
Sugar Loaf Circular: Sugar Loaf descent

The trickiest section was back amidst the bracken and being sure I was on a path that would lead to the car park. I suspect they all do for the most part.

Sugar Loaf Circular: National Trust Omega Sign
Sugar Loaf Circular: National Trust Omega Sign in the car park