Pushing forward with my quest to find days out and holidays that teens are prepared to share with their parents I have struck gold! My kids regard me as a fairly (boring) mature individual who has pretty much left her childhood fancies behind her. I have written before about my lack of spontaneity but the other weekend I was reminded that there are some things that you simply don’t grow out of. We are very fortunate to live in such a gloriously beautiful part of the country here in South Wales. All you have to do is travel an hour out of Cardiff and you hit Sgwd yr Eira waterfall.
I’ve wanted to visit for a while but being a health and safety fanatic the thought of mixing three young children with deadly sheer drops and thousands of gallons of fast following water was too much for my anxiety to deal with.
Now our kids are not only old enough to look after themselves but can keep an eye on me too. So we chose a weekend when out oldest daughter was home from university and headed off to waterfall country.
Getting to Sgwd yr Eira waterfall
We parked in the Gwaun Hepste car park where we ate a picnic lunch. There are picnic tables here but no toilets. The path from the car park is very well signposted and there are further sign posts along the way which also indicate how many minutes walk you are away from each of the waterfalls. Check the map of the walks out here before you leave home. You head South into the forest and choose how many of the water falls you wish to see. We opted for Sgwd Clun Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn and, of course, Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall. The path is rocky in places and the decent to Sgwd Eira involves around 180 steps but naturally the teens were not phased by this. I, on the other hand, had to stop for a breather on the way back up!
What’s so special?
The watery action is provided by the River Mellte and the River Hepste. Yes, we have a lot of rivers in Wales because, as you will know if you have ever been here, we have a lot of rain! I was brought up in the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales and mountain springs and streams were a big part of my childhood. I do feel that I have an affinity with all the gorgeous rivers of my homeland but these rivers are a bit special.
In common with many of the rivers in South Wales, their sources are high in the Brecon Beacons. At one point the Mellte disappears entirely underground for a distance of around 1/2 km. Then, of course, there are the waterfalls. They are all spectacular and very loud but Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall is special because you can go and stand behind it and, yes, this is enough to impress teens. The experience is both disorientating and surreal with what looks remarkably like a blizzard of snow hurtling to the ground a few inches in front of your face. This, of course, is why it is called Sgwd Eira as eira is welsh for snow. It has been featured on BBC Water World of Wales and I can see why.
Tips for your trip
This is a natural environment and so there are a few things that you need to bear in mind:
- You need sensible shoes. The paths are rocky and steep and slippery next to the water falls
- The drops are sheer so if you are taking younger children you need to be vigilant
- If you visit all of the water falls and stop for the odd break it takes around 3 hours to complete the walk.
- If you go behind the water fall you will get wet! But surely that’s part of the fun!