The Four Waterfalls Walk: A complete guide to the Four Falls Trail


The four waterfalls walk is a popular waterfall walk near Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons National Park. This trail is located in an area of the park known as Waterfall Country (for reasons which are probably obvious!). This beautiful region of Wales has more waterfalls per square mile than anywhere else in the country.

On this route walkers can enjoy views of four fabulous waterfalls along the Afon Mellte (River Mellte) and Afon Hepste (River Hepste). The final waterfall on this walk, Sgwd yr Eira, provides a very unique experience since it is one of the only waterfalls in Wales which you are able to walk behind.

There are three car parks at differing locations which provide access to the Four Falls Waterfall Walk. In this guide I provide all the information you require to enjoy a walk from any of these three starting locations.

To discover more walks in waterfall country and the Brecon Beacons in general, take a look at this guide.

What to expect on the Four Falls Walk

At all three car parks there is a notice board with a map of the route from that specific starting location. Despite starting in different locations, the four falls trail itself remains the same and is marked on the map with a red dotted line. Link trails or spurs to waterfall viewpoints are marked in green dotted lines.

Note: The waterfalls themselves can not be seen from the main trail.

At the start of each link trail there is an information board about the distance and difficulty of that link trail, along with the name and photo of the waterfall. This makes walking the four falls trail quite easy to follow.

There is an older trail which follows the rivers edge and forms a natural loop with the newer man-made trail. This significantly shortens the distance covered as there is no doubling back required.

However the old trail is badly eroded with exposed cliff edges so is not recommended, certainly not with children.  All signs mark this older trail as either dangerous or closed and it is not shown on the information board map.

An information board map of the four falls walk near Neath

As mentioned above, no matter which car park you start from the waterfall trail itself is the same, so you will arrive at the falls in the same order. The four waterfalls on the 4 falls walk are Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn and Sgwd yr Eira.

The main path is well made, easy to navigate and fairly flat. However, the linking trails that provide access to the waterfalls are steep, muddy and often slippery, especially in winter months.

If you have small children and aren’t sure of their stamina, by-pass all waterfalls and head straight to Sgwd er Eira. This is the highlight of the walk for most people, so it might pay to visit this one first then determine how much energy little legs have left for the remaining waterfalls!

I love visiting the four falls and no matter how many photos I have of these waterfalls, I can’t help getting my camera out with each and every visit. I usually visit from Comin y Rhos car park and my favourite time of year to visit is in  Autumn when the forest has turned beautiful golden/orange colours.

The Four Waterfalls

1. Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

The first waterfall you will see is Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, which roughly translates to fall of the white meadow. This is the easiest waterfall to view on the walk as there is only a short side track of 80m required to reach the viewing point. At 9m high, Sqwd Clun-Gwyn is the smallest of the waterfalls on the walk.

If starting at Comin y Rhos car park you will view Sgwd Clun-Gwyn from both sides of the river.

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn is the firs waterfall on the four waterfalls walk
Nick at Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

2. Sgwd y Pannwr

The next linking trail is the longest of the side trails. A long gradual descent down to the river-side brings you to Sgwd y Pannwr, which roughly translates to fall of the fuller or fall of the woollen washer. The viewpoint allows you look alongside the waterfall but to see it from the front a little scrambling off the main track is required.

3. Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn

After viewing Sgwd y Pannwr be sure to continue along the linking trail as it follows the river upstream. Many people simply retrace their steps back up to the main path and miss out on what is, in my opinion, the prettiest waterfall of this walk.

Continuing upstream along a muddy path brings you to the third waterfall Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, which roughly translates to lower fall of the white meadow. This waterfall is in fact split into two distinct tiers. From the lower tier you can see three separate cascades.

To reach the upper tier a small amount of scrambling and rock hopping is required. Your effort though is well rewarded with a close up view of the widest waterfall on this walk.

After spending some time appreciating this mesmerising scene, retrace your steps and climb back up to the main trail. Continue along the main trail until you reach the final linking section which leads to Sgwd yr Eira.

Struggling to pronounce all of these Welsh names? If so check out this handy guide!

4. Sgwd yr Eira

Sgwd yr Eira roughly translates to the falls of snow. There are 170 steps that take you down the steep hillside to the Afon Heptse. And what awaits this final effort is the most fun part of the four falls walk. That is, the ability to walk behind the waterfall and amaze at the thunderous blanket of water as it pours overhead.

At Sgwd yr Eira the river Heptse cascades over a hard band of sandstone, providing those brave enough a relatively safe, though rather wet, passage behind the waterfall. After enjoying the power of nature at Sgwd yr Eira, retrace your (170!) steps back up to the main trail.

Now there are two options. Simply retrace your steps along the main trail back to your respective car park or upon reaching the main trail turn right, then left to loop back around through the forest to the start of the trail.

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Brecon Beacons 4 waterfalls walk starting locations

1. The Four Waterfalls Walk from Cwm Porth car park

  • Distance: 8.8km round trip including all link trails
  • Starting point: Cwm Porth car park CF44 9JE
  • Cost: £4 for day
  • Time: 3-4 hours

The Cwm Porth car park is paid parking and is equipped with toilets and a comprehensive map of the route. From the car park the path out towards the waterfalls follows the banks of the Afon Mellte. Follow this path for around 1.8km until you see your first waterfall and the true waterfall walk begins.

2. The 4 Waterfalls Walk from Comin y Rhos car park on Ystradfellte Road

  • Distance: 7.6km round trip including all link trails
  • Starting point: A small car park along the roadside SA11 5US
  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 3 hours

For me this is the best car park for a four falls waterfall walk because it is quieter and shorter than the other two options. The other benefit of starting at this location is that you can see Sgwd Clun-Gwyn from both sides. There are no facilities at this car park.

The trail starts at the side of the car park and is very obvious to follow. After passing through some fields the path begins to lead down into the forest and towards the river. The first stop is a slight detour off the main trail for a side view Sgwd Clun-Gwyn. If you’re feeling sure footed you can scramble down the river bank to view the waterfall from river level.

After enjoying this bonus first sighting, continue along the path which takes you over a small wooden bridge and onto the other side of the Afon Mellte. Turning left here takes you to Cwm Porth car park. Turn right and walk up a short hill to join the official start of the four falls trail.

3. The Four Falls Walk from Gwaun Hepste

  • Distance: 9km round trip including all link trails
  • Starting point: Gwaun Hepste car park CF44 9JB
  • Cost: £4 for day
  • Time: 3-4 hours

Gwaun Hepste is a pay and display car park. There are no facilities at this car park and this is the longest of the 3 options. From the car park follow the marked trail through the forest for around 2km until you reach the first waterfall. This marks the beginning of the official 4 falls trail.

4. Unofficial loop walk

As mentioned above there is an old trail which when linked with the newer trail forms a convenient loop. To walk this loop, by-pass all side trails and head first to Sgwd yr Eira. Then return to the main trail and walk back to the next linking section. Take this link trail down to Sgwd y Pannwr and upstream to Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn.

From here continue scrambling up the zig-zag path which takes you onto an exposed, worn out trail high above the waterfall. The trail continues in this manner until it rejoins with the main trail at Sgwd Clun-Gwyn. From this point walk back to your respective four waterfalls walk parking location.

This section is marked as closed and/or dangerous so is not recommended. Follow this path at your own risk.

If you like waterfalls, you may also be interested in discovering the prettiest waterfalls in Wales

Things to consider before your trip

Be sure to check the weather before you leave and pack accordingly. Some things to remember include:

Where to stay after your walk

There aren’t too many accommodation options at the very start of these trails but there are a few good places nearby.

In Pontneddfechan (near the start of the Elidir Trail) you could stay at the beautiful Sgwd Gwladys Lodge. Click here to check availability.

Alternatively, head towards Pen y Fan and enjoy a relaxing night at the Nant Ddu Lodge and Spa. Click here to check availability. You can’t go wrong with either option!

Summary

The Four Falls Trail is a beautiful day out in the Welsh countryside, no matter what the weather or season.

On hot sunny days you can enjoy the refreshing spray as you walk behind Sgwd yr Eira and even take a dip in the river. In Autumn the surrounding forest turns a magical mix of orange and yellow and in Winter the waterfalls rage at their fullest.

This waterfall walk is not an easy trail with steep sections required to access the waterfalls themselves. These sections are often muddy and slippery. However, if you are well prepared with snacks and the right footwear you will have one of the finest days the Brecon Beacons has to offer.

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LouFrance

Louise is an overland leader from South Wales who runs adventure tours in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Louise is trained in mountain leadership and has a passion for photography.

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