Wilderness Wales


Day 29 - Afon Hepste

Ystradfellte Falls, Brecon Beacons

Sgwd yr Eira

Sgwd yr Eira
Famous for the path that passes behind the waterfall to cross the river.

Three days to go and three falls left, this time I visited the Afon Hepste, to photograph two falls, Sgwd yr Eira and the Lower Hepste Falls. It was another rainy day.

Starting from Penderyn the walk-in was across moorland for a change. Although not clearly marked on the map, there is now a well defined and marked path to Sgwd yr Eira, making for an easy approach. There was a group of red waterproofed kids at the top of the path down to the fall, and even more kids and other visitors at the fall itself, mostly being fascinated by the novelty of walking behind the fall. I was surprised to see so many people there midweek in the pouring rain, especially after my solitary walk there. Fortunately they'd all disappeared by the time I set up my tripods.

After a night's rain, the river level was visibly higher than the day before, although still low by normal standards. Not high enough to wash away all the fallen leaves, but high enough to improve the look of the falls from pathetic to normal. Walking behind the fall was as interesting as ever, but waterproofs were not really needed (apart from the rain) since there was no backward spray from the fall this time.

After photographing Eira from both sides, I made my way down river. There's not much of a path here and what there is can be quite precarious. There's no well-established route this way and it's not recommended, it can be very dangerous in places. Most visitors miss these falls, which are not clearly marked on the map, and are only mentioned in the handbook as "rapids".

The Lower Hepste Falls are a series of many small falls rather than a single big fall, so it's not possible to take a single photograph of it, and it's difficult to find good viewpoints for much of it. The two falls at the very bottom are the best though, in my opinion. Although small they are very shapely and this is in fact one of my favourite falls. I seem to prefer falls that are difficult to get to!

The viewpoint itself is a narrow section of slippery rock jutting out into the river, with cliffs on three sides. An awkward place to set up two tripods, but again well worth the effort.

Returning up the valley my choice of path was not optimal and at one point I found myself traversing a very narrow section of wet, leaf covered path on the edge of a steep grassy slope with a precipitous drop to the gorge below. Much care was required and I didn't feel to happy about that at all. The walking poles helped my stability. Definitely not the best route to take.

On my return walk I didn't see a soul, the area was completely empty. Another good walk with objectives achieved.