Pistyll Rhaeadr

Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Powys County, Wales

Rating: 4     Difficulty: 1.5
Pistyll Rhaeadr

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Pistyll Rhaeadr was a waterfall that quickly impressed us the moment we started to see parts of it as we approached it from the single-lane road leading to this quiet part of Wales that was quite close to the English border. And when we got closer to see its entirety (as shown in the photo above), that was when we realized that the 240ft (73m) height wasn't all this plunging series of falls had going for it. Indeed, spanning the very middle of its overall drop was a natural bridge making this one of those rare waterfalls that could boast such a feature making it a pretty special place. And since the Afon Rhaeadr (Waterfall River) tended to have pretty reliable flow, that also meant that this waterfall also had some staying power.

Visiting Pistyll Rhaeadr was quite easy as we were able to park the car close by the waterfall near the end of the road from the small town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (see directions below), and walk the short distance to the footbridge right across the Afon Rhaeadr where we were able to get the most direct views of the falls. For such a relatively easy-to-access waterfall, Julie, Tahia, and I were quite pleasantly surprised at the relative peace and quiet here. Maybe the long drive to get here along with the single-lane roads might have had something to do with it.

In any case, we were quite content to experience the falls from here and from the tea room near the car park (called Tan-y-Pistyll). However, there was a trail that kept going past this bridge on the other side of the river (which I suspect might meander deeper into the Berwyn Mountains) as well as another trail further back from the car park that appeared to go to the waterfall's top. So we didn't have to exert ourselves very much to experience the best of the falls and almost all of the hour we were here was spent taking pictures.

According to my Welsh dictionary, the word pistyll (probably pronounced "PIS-tuhthl") meant "well" and rhaeadr ("HRHYE-uh-dur") meant "waterfall" suggesting it could be the "waterfall well". However, according to the literature the translation of Pistyll Rhaeadr was more like "spring of the waterfall". There was a sign here suggesting that this was the highest waterfall in Wales and England, but having seen taller ones earlier on in the trip (e.g. Gaping Gill, Cautley Spout, and maybe even Taylor Gill Force, among others), that claim could very well be in doubt.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Conwy might have been over 90 minutes from Pistyll Rhaeadr, but we were very glad to have made this charming town the base of our North Wales explorationsConwy might have been over 90 minutes from Pistyll Rhaeadr, but we were very glad to have made this charming town the base of our North Wales explorations
Llandudno was a seaside town just 5 miles north of Conwy, and was a little charming diversion to end off our first day in North WalesLlandudno was a seaside town just 5 miles north of Conwy, and was a little charming diversion to end off our first day in North Wales
Not to be outdone, Caernarfon Castle (some 23 miles west of conwy) with its more polygonal towers was equally as impressive as Conwy CastleNot to be outdone, Caernarfon Castle (some 23 miles west of conwy) with its more polygonal towers was equally as impressive as Conwy Castle
Julie started walking the last 0.2 miles of the single-lane road after we managed to get lucky and find 'free' parking in one of the spaces to our leftJulie started walking the last 0.2 miles of the single-lane road after we managed to get lucky and find 'free' parking in one of the spaces to our left

Looking back at the handful of cars that managed to squeeze their way into the 'free' parking spacesLooking back at the handful of cars that managed to squeeze their way into the 'free' parking spaces

Getting our first glimpses of the uppermost tier of the impressive Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfallGetting our first glimpses of the uppermost tier of the impressive Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall

Just to give you an idea of how narrow the single-track Waterfalls Road between Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Pistyll Rhaeadr was, perhaps this picture should do the trickJust to give you an idea of how narrow the single-track Waterfalls Road between Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Pistyll Rhaeadr was, perhaps this picture should do the trick

At the car park for Tan-y-Pistyll tea room and bed and breakfastAt the car park for Tan-y-Pistyll tea room and bed and breakfast

Near the start of the walk to get to the bridge in front of Pistyll Rhaeadr was this interesting statueNear the start of the walk to get to the bridge in front of Pistyll Rhaeadr was this interesting statue

Approaching the footbridge across the Afon RhaeadrApproaching the footbridge across the Afon Rhaeadr

Pistyll Rhaeadr from the footbridgePistyll Rhaeadr from the footbridge

Looking downstream from the footbridgeLooking downstream from the footbridge

Landscape look at Pistyll RhaeadrLandscape look at Pistyll Rhaeadr

Taking a closer look at that natural bridge spanning the Afon Rhaeadr right in the middle of the fallsTaking a coser look at that natural bridge spanning the Afon Rhaeadr right in the middle of the falls

View of Pistyll Rhaeadr from the tables at the Tan-y-Pistyll Tea RoomView of Pistyll Rhaeadr from the tables at the Tan-y-Pistyll Tea Room


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Distant look at the impressive upper tier of the falls as we were approaching it from the "free" parking area


Top down sweep of the falls as seen from the bridge spanning the Afon Rhaeadr with a zoom-in on the impressive natural bridge in the middle of the falls, then ending with a downstream view towards the waterfall cafe.


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Given the relative remoteness of the town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, there seemed to be many ways of getting here from more familiar towns in Wales. So we'll just describe the routes that we took both involving Conwy as well as the Dolgoch Falls since we arrived at Pistyll Rhaeadr from Dolgoch Falls. You can see the detailed directions for that part of the drive in the link above.

So leaving Dolgoch Falls and going onto the B4405 due east for about 7 miles towards the A487, we then turned left and followed the A487 for about 4 miles to the A470. We then turned right onto the A470 and followed this road for just under 8 miles to the A458. Turning left to go onto the A458, we then drove about 10.5 miles to a turnoff for the B4395 where the GPS made us go the direct route and turn left onto the narrow road. After 7 miles, we kept right to go onto the B4393, followed that road for 4.4 miles to the B4391/A490 junction, then turned left to continue on the B4391 road. After 2 miles, we kept right to continue on the B4580 road and followed that road for 3.2 miles to Market Street, which was the main throughfare for the town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.

Julie walking by some make shift parking spaces that people squeezed into in order to avoid paying the 3 pounds parking fee In less than 70 yards, we then turned right onto the narrow Waterfall Street, where we then drove the remaining 4 miles on the single-track road to its end. There was a 3 pound fee to park in the car park for Tan-y-Pistyll tea room and bed and breakfast, but backtracking for about 0.2 miles, we managed to find space at a "free car park", where there was some really rough spaces as rocks were jutting up from the ground and there were some pretty severe ruts and pits. Those who were fortunate to snag a spot here managed to avoid paying the fairly hefty 3 pound fee though there was definitely the risk of possibly damaging the rental car if not careful.

In any case, this drive took us a little over 90 minutes. However, it might have been a slightly faster drive (not necessarily shorter) had we remained on the A458 for another 5.5 miles, then turned left onto the A495 road for a little over 9 miles, then turned left onto the A490 road towards Llanfyllin for 4.6 miles before getting onto the B4391 road and following the rest of the directions as above towards Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.

The route we took to return to Conwy from Pistyll Rhaeadr also works in reverse so we'll describe our route in reverse as well. From Conwy, we would go south on the A470 for about 17 miles to the A5 (just east of Betws-y-Coed), then keep left to drive on the A5. We then would continue on the A5 towards the town of Druid (19 miles), where we would then turn right to go onto the A494. Heading a little over 4 miles towards Bethel, then go left onto the B4402 road, then after 3.5 miles turn left to go onto the B4391 road. Follow this road southeast for a little over 11 miles to Penybontfawr, then left onto the road leading to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant for 2.5 miles becoming Market St, then turning left onto Waterfall Street. The last 4 miles would be on the single-lane Waterfall Street leading to Pistyll Rhaeadr. This drive took us nearly 90 minutes.

Finally, to give you some additional geographical context, Conwy was 27 miles (about 45 minutes drive) northeast of Caernarfon, 55 miles (over an hour drive) west of Liverpool, 83 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of Aberystwyth, 192 miles (4 hours drive) north of Cardiff, and 259 miles (4.5 hours drive) northwest of London.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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