Pistyll Rhaeadr

Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Wales, UK (Great Britain)

About Pistyll Rhaeadr


Hiking Distance: 1/2-mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2014-09-02
Date last visited: 2014-09-02

Waterfall Latitude: 52.85504
Waterfall Longitude: -3.37885

Pistyll Rhaeadr was a waterfall that quickly impressed us the moment we started to see parts of it on the approach from the single-lane road leading to this quiet part of Wales near the English border.

This 240ft (73m) waterfall not only featured a pair of tall, plunging drops, but it even had a natural bridge across its middle.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_023_09022014 - Pistyll Rhaeadr
Pistyll Rhaeadr

That made this one of those rare waterfalls that could boast having a such a natural feature as part of its scenic allure, which made this a pretty special place.

Moreover, since the Afon Rhaeadr (Waterfall River) tended to have pretty reliable flow, that also meant that the Pistylle Rhaeadr waterfall had some staying power.

Experiencing Pistyll Rhaeadr

Visiting Pistyll Rhaeadr was quite easy as we were able to park the car close by the waterfall.

We wound up parking the car near the end of the road from the small town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (see directions below).

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_008_09022014 - Looking ahead towards Pistyll Rhaeadr on the way to Tan-y-Pistyll
Looking ahead towards Pistyll Rhaeadr on the way to Tan-y-Pistyll

Then, we walked the short distance to a cafe and pay car park at the very end of the road.

From there, we descended to the footbridge right across the Afon Rhaeadr where we were able to get the most direct views of the Pistyll Rhaeadr.

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 the lack of crowds.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_066_09022014 - Looking back at the idyllic scenery at Tan-y-Pistyll
Looking back at the idyllic scenery at Tan-y-Pistyll

In any case, we were quite content to experience the falls from this bridge as well as 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).

There was also another trail further back from the car park that appeared to go to the waterfall’s top.

Nevertheless, we didn’t have to exert ourselves very much to experience the best of the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall, and almost all of the hour we were here was spent taking pictures.

Welsh Nomenclature

According to my Welsh dictionary, the word pistyll (probably pronounced “PIS-tuhthl”) meant “well” and rhaeadr (“HRHYE-uh-dur”) meant “waterfall”.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_061_09022014 - Zoomed in on the natural bridge spanning the middle of Pistyll Rhaeadr
Zoomed in on the natural bridge spanning the middle of Pistyll Rhaeadr

This suggested that Pistyll Rhaeadr 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.

Authorities

Pistyll Rhaeadr resides near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Powys County, Wales. It is administered by the custodians at Tan-y-Pistyll. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_003_09022014 - Julie walking the Waterfall Street towards Tan-y-Pistyll and the Pistyll Rhaeadr at the end of this narrow, single-lane road
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_007_09022014 - Looking towards the upper drop of Pistyll Rhaeadr while walking along Waterfall Street
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_015_09022014 - Near the start of the walk to get to the bridge in front of Pistyll Rhaeadr was this interesting statue or carving of gnome or something
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_017_09022014 - Approaching the footbridge across the Afon Rhaeadr, which had a nice view of the Pistyll Rhaeadr
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_046_09022014 - Pistyll Rhaeadr as seen from the footbridge
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_018_09022014 - Looking downstream back towards Tan-y-Pistyll from the footbridge over the Afon Rhaeadr
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_052_09022014 - Landscape look at Pistyll Rhaeadr from the footbridge over Afon Rhaeadr
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_069_09022014 - View of Pistyll Rhaeadr from Tan-y-Pistyll as we sought a little bit of a break after having made our brief visit to the falls
Pistyll_Rhaeadr_072_09022014 - Context of the view of Pistyll Rhaeadr from the tables at the Tan-y-Pistyll Tea Room

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Given the relative remoteness of the town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and the Pistyll Rhaeadr, 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 to get to Dolgoch Falls from Conwy in its directions.

Driving from Dolgoch Falls to Pistyll Rhaeadr

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.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_014_09022014 - Looking back at the car park for Tan-y-Pistyll
Looking back at the car park for Tan-y-Pistyll

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.

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 (as of early September 2014).

However, 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.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_002_09022014 - Looking back at the parking spaces where people managed to avoid paying the fee at the car park at the end of the road at Tan-y-Pistyll
Looking back at the parking spaces where people managed to avoid paying the fee at the car park at the end of the road at Tan-y-Pistyll

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.

The Better Route from Dolgoch Falls to Pistyll Rhaeadr

However, it might have been a slightly faster drive (not necessarily shorter) had we remained on the A458 for another 5.5 miles before turning left onto the A495 road.

We would have followed the A495 road for a little over 9 miles before turning left onto the A490 road towards Llanfyllin for 4.6 miles.

Then, we’d finally get onto the B4391 road and following the rest of the directions as above towards Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.

The Driving Route from Conwy to Pistyll Rhaeadr

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_001_09022014 - The narrow single-lane Waterfall Street, which eventually ends at the Tan-y-Pistyll
The narrow single-lane Waterfall Street, which eventually ends at the Tan-y-Pistyll

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.

We’d then head a little over 4 miles towards Bethel, then going left onto the B4402 road, then after 3.5 miles turning left to go onto the B4391 road.

Next, we’d 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.

Pistyll_Rhaeadr_011_09022014 - Looking back at the context of a car on the single-lane Waterfall Street near Tan-y-Pistyll, which gives you an idea of just how tight this street can be
Looking back at the context of a car on the single-lane Waterfall Street near Tan-y-Pistyll, which gives you an idea of just how tight this street can be

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.


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.

Tagged with: llanhaeadr-ym-mochnant, powys, wales, uk, united kingdom, waterfall, rhaeadr, natural bridge,



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Pystlle Rhaeader (Wales UK) April 12, 2020 12:07 am by Richard Davies - An exhilarating place. Can get busy over Bank holidays and nice weather. This is a must visit. ...Read More
Pistyll Rhaeadr (Wales UK) September 18, 2012 8:33 pm by Ruth Williams - At 240ft Pistyll Rhaeadr is one of the taller Welsh waterfalls. It is situated in the Berwyn Mountains of mid Wales not many miles in from the English border. To access the falls from the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant follow the sign for the fall up a single track lane for about 4 miles. There is… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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