If you’re visiting the Brecon Beacons National Park this summer, then you must explore our waterfalls, lakes and rivers! The water world of our National Park has its own unique beauty that’s hard to match anywhere else in Britain! Visit the tumbling waterfalls of Waterfall Country, discover the legends of our lakes and spot the wildlife around our Rivers!
Pwll Yr Wrach.
A popular Brecknock Wildlife Trust reserve, known locally as the ‘Witches Pool’ this amazing spot of myth and legend is located near Talgarth. The woodland is particularly beautiful in early spring and near the eastern end of the reserve the river plunges over a spectacular waterfall into a dark pool below, where legend has it that those accused of witchcraft in medieval times were put to the water test to determine their guilt or innocence.
You can download a leaflet here
Sgwd yr Eira
Majestic Sgwd yr Eira waterfall which translates as ‘fall of snow’ can be found in “Waterfall Country” along with several other dramatic waterfalls. It’s one of only two waterfalls in the UK (both located in the Brecon Beacons) that you can walk behind. Have a look the walking trails to the waterfalls which can be found here
Henrhyd Falls: the highest waterfall in the Brecon Beacons National Park
With a drop of 27m, Sgwd Henrhyd, on the River Nant Llech north-west of Glyn-Neath, is the highest waterfall in the National Park.
A walking trail leads to the waterfall from the National Trust car park (grid reference SN853121) near Coelbren, off the A4221 a mile south-east of Abercrave. You follow a steep path down into the mystical wooded valley, with occasional glimpses of the falls through the trees. A wooden bridge takes you across the stream which you then follow up to the pool at the base of Henrhyd Falls. You can then walk down the Nant Llech valley, whose steep sides are lined with sessile oak, ash, small-leafed lime, alder and wych elm trees. This takes you to Henrhyd Small Falls.
Llangorse lake is the largest natural lake in South Wales and is a fine spot for sailing, wildlife-watching and waterside strolls with shimmering views. There’s local history to explore, too at the Crannog near the northwest shore. Over 1000 years ago, this was the homestead of a local king. Find out more here
The River Usk
The silver ribbon of the River Usk truly belongs to our National Park. It rises on the northern slopes of the Black Mountain range and flows from our western moorlands to our fertile south-eastern farmland in a generous arc. On the way, it passes through many of our towns and villages. Sennybridge, Brecon, Talybont-on-Usk, Crickhowell and Abergavenny all once depended on the river for their prosperity. The Usk also feeds the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
The whole river is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It waters woodlands and grasslands and provides a habitat for salmon, trout, otters, dippers, kingfishers and herons, among many other species. In winter it can be wild and swollen with the force of mountain streams but in summer its character is calm and gentle. More here.
The River Wye
Britain’s fifth longest river, the beautiful River Wye, makes just the briefest of visits to our Park, flowing through Hay-on-Wye in the north-east corner before winding east then south through Herefordshire and Monmouthshire to meet the Bristol Channel at Chepstow.
By the time it reaches Hay, the Wye is already a broad, meandering river. The Warren, a peninsula formed by a beautiful rocky loop in the river, just west of the town, is an ideal place for a dip. To walk there, take the road opposite the Cinema Bookshop. Turn right onto a footpath by the church, then left along the path above the river. More here.
Rivers of Waterfall Country
With the exceptions of the Sychryd and Pyrddin, each of the rivers which combine to form the River Neath rise on the long southerly dip-slopes of the Old Red Sandstone hills of Fforest Fawr. They flow southwards through scenery whose variety and beauty is hard to match anywhere in Britain. More here
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Cave
At 308m, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu in the Upper Swansea Valley is Britain’s deepest cave.
If you would like to explore the cave then get in touch with one of the activity providers here
In search of the fabled dragon’s Breath
If the conditions are perfect the mystical dragon’s breath forms over the River Usk at dawn lying in wait for the warmth of the morning sun to free it from its slumber. You can read more about it here
Standing just 60m off the minor road between the Senni valley and Ystradfellte, this impressive stone is relatively easy to visit.
Made from a massive sandstone block which stands 3.7m high, the task of moving and erecting it must have been a huge engineering challenge, especially as it is likely that up to a third of the whole stone is below ground.
On a clear day it can be seen from quite some distance down the Llia valley suggesting that it may have been important as a territorial marker. Standing at an altitude of 573m it is also thought to be the highest standing stone in South Wales. Legend has it that whenever a cock crows, the stone moves off to drink in the River Nedd. According to another story, the stone visits the River Mellte on Midsummer morning.
There are over 30 standing stones in our National Park. Some of them are many centuries old and wreathed in myth.
Whitney Bridge (a working Toll Bridge) is Grade II listed ancient structure with a social and historical interest. The original toll bridge was enabled in 1774 as a more convenient crossing to the River Wye, other than by ferry. Still a working toll bridge today, visitors are charged 80p which goes to the maintenance of the bridge.
The Brecon Beacons offers excellent coarse fishing or game fishing in rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs. We also have a great selection of country hotels that offer a special welcome to outdoor sportsmen. The Gliffaes Hotel is located on the River Usk, near Crickhowell has a long tradition of looking after fishermen with fishing records going back to the 1930s available for guests to read. The hotel has over 1.5 miles of fishing on the Usk, split into 5 beats, which are open to both residents and non-residents alike. They also offer fly fishing holidays and courses for the beginner and the expert. To find out more go to our website