Discover the Water World of the Brecon Beacons

If you’re visiting the Brecon Beacons National Park this Spring or 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! 

Waterfalls

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.

Blaen-y-Glyn: lively waters

Much of the water that fills Talybont Reservoir begins its journey high up in the mountains at the head of the Talybont Valley in the eastern Beacons. At Blaen-y-Glyn, the infant River Caerfanell, the Nant Bwrefwr and other streams tumble down from the hills over tremendous clusters of picturesque waterfalls.

There are pleasant walks to these falls from Natural Resources Wales car parks at Upper Blaen-y-Glyn (grid reference SO056176) and Lower Blaen-y-Glyn (SO064169)

Lakes 

Llangorse Lake

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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.

Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr

High up in the Black Mountain range is the mysterious Llyn y Fan Fach, setting for the folk tale of The Lady of the Lake, and its near-neighbour Llyn y Fan Fawr. In the Central Beacons is a little gem of a lake which has fairy legend of its own, Llyn Cwm Llwch, which lies below Corn Du. A hike to any of these lakes will take you over rugged terrain, but your effort will be rewarded with magical scenery – and cool water to soothe hot feet!

Rivers

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

Reservoirs

The Brecon Beacons National Park provides most of the drinking water for the population and industry of South Wales. Our reservoirs and dams, owned and managed by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (www.dwrcymru.com), are striking additions to the natural landscape.

Talybont Reservoir

To the east of the Central Beacons is Talybont Reservoir, a Local Nature Reserve. No boating is allowed here, but it’s a wonderful spot for waterside walks, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere of the Caerfanell Valley. An easy access path starts from the large lay-by on the north-west side. To find out more, visit our pages on walking. At the southern end of Talybont Reservoir is a bird hide overlooking a protected wetland area that floods in the winter, while not far from the dam at the northern end is the YHA Danywenallt National Park Study Centre, a converted farmhouse that’s just right for bringing a school group to the area.

Pontsticill Reservoir

In the Central Beacons, Pontsticill Reservoir, the largest of the Taff Fechan reservoirs, is surrounded by dramatic, forested hills. There’s an attractive car park and picnic site on the west bank, which can be reached by a minor road from Merthyr to Talybont.

Caves

Dan Yr Ogof Caves

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The river Llynfell emerges from the mountain as you approach the entrance to Dan-yr-Ogof, returning to the surface after an underground journey of more than 6km. It was by way of this entrance that the Morgan Brothers made their dramatic discovery in 1912.
Tommy and Jeff Morgan had only candles to light their way, a coracle to cross the lakes they encountered, rope to help with the dangerous climbs they undertook, but of course no map to help guide them! Today, you can enjoy this natural wonder without any of the difficulties they experienced over 100 years ago. Be amazed by the famous “Rasher of Bacon”, the heavenly “Angel” and the “Alabaster Pillar” – just some of the beautiful formations discovered by the Morgan Brothers during their adventures.

These incredibly brave acts of discovery were not surpassed until 1963, when a relatively inexperienced caver, Eileen Davies, made a significant breakthrough in the exploration of Dan-yr-Ogof. The “Long Crawl” was finally conquered; so far this has led to the discovery of an incredible cave system with over 16km of explored passageways. Discover 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

Whitney Bridge

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.

Fishing

Anglers on the banks of the river Usk in teh Brecon Beacons National Park

© Brecon Beacons National Park

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

Discover the historic story of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal here. 

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