Sgwd Henrhyd

near Abercrave / Brecon Beacons National Park, Powys County, Wales

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 2
Sgwd Henrhyd

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Sgwd Henrhyd (pronounced "SGOOD HEN-hrhud"; possibly meaning "Old Ford Cascade") was said to be the tallest single-drop waterfall in South Wales at 90ft (27m), but we felt that wasn't the main thing this waterfall had going for it. For when we showed up and witnessed this impressive yet graceful falls, we noticed that it was possible to walk around the plunge pool and into a large alcove behind the waterfall, making this one of the few waterfalls in the UK that we visited where it was possible to do that. We didn't know this at the time, but apparently, that large alcove was said to have doubled as the Batcave along with the waterfall in the movie The Dark Knight Rises, which I'm sure I'll be looking forward to the next time I run across a replay of this on TV next time. Plus, we noticed a couple of guys with rope abseiling the vertical cliffs surrounding the falls so we definitely got the sense that this falls had quite a bit of notoriety.

From the unpaved car park area (which was next to some horse farm), we passed through a gate, then briefly past a farm before the trail entered a lightly forested area where the trail then descended quickly. Although the path was pretty wide, it was deceptively strenuous because the surface of the trail had a lot of loose gravel on the packed dirt, which made for surprisingly slippery footing, especially given how steep the slope was when we (especially Tahia) were descending it. So as we were carefully making our way down, we'd eventually get to a trail junction at the bottom where going left would lead to Sgwd Henrhyd while going right would continue downstream along the Nant Llech (Slate Stream?) leading to at least three other waterfalls on the way to Abercraf (at least according to a sign we read at the trailhead). In any case, we kept left to keep going towards the Sgwd Henrhyd.

Next, we crossed over a bridge traversing the Nant Llech, then we were on a fairly slippery dirt path that seemed to be on the muddy side even though we had been dealing with dry weather for the past few days. The damp and wet grounds here could be attributed to the fact that the forest we were in was considered to be in fact a rainforest. There were moss and ferns growing around the trail, and it was said that sun rarely would make it this deep into the ravine thanks to a combination of the narrowness of the gorge as well as the tallness of the trees both contributing to a high canopy that tended to keep the sun's rays out. So given the lack of evaporative energy from the sun, that seemed to be consistent with what we were reading from the signs about this place claiming that this Celtic Forest harbored conditions similar to the Amazon rainforest. And thus, we were glad to have worn our hiking boots to ensure we wouldn't have too many problems with the mud and slick terrain.

We'd eventually reach Sgwd Henrhyd after about 20 minutes or so from the trailhead, and after getting our fill of the frontal views of the falls (like what's pictured at the top of this page), I then took it upon myself to follow the narrow trail leading to the alcove behind the falls. Like many other waterfalls with alcoves this deep, I'd imagine that this would be a pretty old waterfall or at least a waterfall in the advanced stages of its development, and I'm sure over time, parts of the lip of the falls will collapse and cause its brink to recede slightly upstream. Since the falls had relatively low flow compared to what we had seen in the literature, Sgwd Henrhyd tended to have a graceful appearance. And when we had our fill of this popular waterfall (as more families and other parties started showing up), we then made our way back uphill to the car park. Overall, we had spent just less than an hour away from the car.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The Dan yr Ogof Showcaves was about a 10 minute drive from the car park for Sgwd HenrhydThe Dan yr Ogof Showcaves was about a 10 minute drive from the car park for Sgwd Henrhyd
Cardiff, the capital of Wales, was not far from the Brecon Beacons.  The city featured Cardiff Castle, which was actually a series of buildings enclosed by the castle wall such as this palaceCardiff, the capital of Wales, was not far from the Brecon Beacons. The city featured Cardiff Castle, which was actually a series of buildings enclosed by the castle wall such as this palace
The Cardiff City Centre was also quite interesting thanks to its pedestrian arcades flanked by attractively old school buildingsThe Cardiff City Centre was also quite interesting thanks to its pedestrian arcades flanked by attractively old school buildings
Just north of Cardiff was the attractive Caerphilly Castle with its calm moat and its leaning tower as well as the well-preserved castle itselfJust north of Cardiff was the attractive Caerphilly Castle with its calm moat and its leaning tower as well as the well-preserved castle itself
Crossing the gate at the car park to go onto the walk to the fallsCrossing the gate at the car park to go onto the walk to the falls

It didn't take long before we found ourselves inside the Celtic Forest as we were about to descend deeper into the depths of the gorge belowIt didn't take long before we found ourselves inside the Celtic Forest as we were about to descend deeper into the depths of the gorge below

Looking back up at the slippery descent we had just taken given how many loose rocks and pebbles were skimming the hard packed dirt sloping surfaceLooking back up at the slipper descent we had just taken given how many loose rocks and pebbles were skimming the hard packed dirt sloping surface

At the very bottom of the descent, we veered left then crossed this bridge over Nant Llech before walking upstream towards Sgwd HenrhydAt the very bottom of the descent, we veered left then crossed this bridge over Nant Llech before walking upstream towards Sgwd Henrhyd

The dark dirt on the trail while flanked by ferns attested to how little sunlight tended to make it this far into the gorge, and it also indicated how damp and slippery the trail could beThe dark dirt on the trail while flanked by ferns attested to how little sunlight tended to make it this far into the gorge, and it also indicated how damp and slippery the trail could be

Our first look at the impressive Sgwd HenrhydOur first look at the impressive Sgwd Henrhyd

A more contextual look at Sgwd Henrhyd with some rope adjacent to the falls from some abseilersA more contextual look at Sgwd Henrhyd with some rope adjacent to the falls from some abseilers

Sign before the trail leading to the back of the falls urging me to be carefulSign before the trail leading to the back of the falls urging me to be careful

Looking out from inside the alcove behind the waterfallLooking out from inside the alcove behind the waterfall

Looking back at the narrow trail leading towards the alcove where I was standing to take this shotLooking back at the narrow trail leading towards the alcove where I was standing to take this shot

Looking up towards the lip of the alcove from still behind Sgwd HenrhydLooking up towards the lip of the alcove from still behind the waterfall

Looking out towards the plunge pool appearing peaceful as I was standing from behind Sgwd HenrhydLooking out towards the plunge pool appearing peaceful as I was standing from behind the falls

Profile looking up at the Sgwd HenrhydProfile looking up at the waterfall

When the sun briefly made an appearance, there was a faint rainbow arcing across the alcoveWhen the sun briefly made an appearance, there was a faint rainbow arcing across the alcove

A closer look at an abseiler descending alongside the Sgwd Henrhyd waterfallA closer look at an abseiler descending alongside the Sgwd Henrhyd waterfall

Making it back to the gate and car park with some horses nearby watching meMaking it back to the gate and car park with some horses nearby watching me


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Showing the waterfall, then showing what it's like to walk along the narrow ledge to get behind the falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We visited Sgwd Henrhyd immediately after having visited the Dan yr Ogof Showcaves. Both attractions were part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. For specific directions on getting to the Dan yr Ogof Showcaves from Cardiff Bay, see that page. Once we left the cave, we then turned right onto the A4067 road and continued for about 1.7 miles, then we turned left at Pen-y-Cae onto a single-lane road (a sign for the falls also pointed in this direction), and we'd follow it for about a mile before keeping left to continue on another single track road called Heol y Gwydde. After another 0.6 miles, that was when we reached the unpaved but signposted car park for the falls. Overall, this short drive took us about 10 minutes.

It was also possible to access the car park for Sgwd Henrhyd from a couple of access roads branching off the A4221 road (Inter Valley Road). From the town Dyffryn Cellwen, it was about 1.4 miles north on the single-lane Camnant road to the car park. There was another access road on the right another 1.1 miles west of the Camnant Road turnoff and the A4221.

Finally, to give you some context, our base of Cardiff Bay was 192 miles (4 hours drive) south of Conwy, 57 miles (over an hour drive) west of Bath, England, and 151 miles (3 hours drive) west 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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