Four Falls Walk, Brecon Beacons.
Ballet is booked off, lunches are prepped and the car is stuffed and ready to go. The kids are rallied and once again we set off for another adventure. Today is the Four Falls walk, Brecon Beacons in Wales. The walk features on ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks. After realising we are amateurs who have only done 8 of the 100, we decided to book every weekend possible with walks in the UK.
Car Park Woes
A 2.5 hour drive loomed so we set off after a good breakfast with good intentions of a full days walk. Squabbling eventually set in with the kids, tempers got heated and voices louder until we were ‘this close’ to turning the car around and going back home. Silence ensued so on we drove, desperately trying to reach our destination before WW3 commenced in the confines of the car.
Alas, our spirits were not lifted just yet as I realised we had no change and the car park set in the middle of nowhere would not take card payments. Who knew? After a long moment of staring at the machine, a lovely lady gifted us 3 pound coins. She was an angel, releasing us from the war zone and into the wild. I was overcome with gratitude and cried, for the first time that day.
Eventually, all saddled up, we left the car and followed the path to the first waterfall.
There are 4 waterfalls all-together in a 6 mile walk that leads down to the waterfalls and back up again in an anti-clockwise route. The numbered markers are very easy to follow but I took a picture of the map just in case.
We walked through muddy paths trying to navigate our way so as not to get covered in sludge. We heard the first waterfall before we saw it. The noise is thunderous. The water falls from a great height, plunging into the pools below. The kids were mesmerised by the flow of the water and stood gaping for a while. We took a few pictures, started on the sausage rolls and carried on walking to find falls number 2.
Sgwd Yr Eira
At this point we decided to bypass 2 and 3 and go straight to waterfall 4 as this was the one you can walk behind. We figured if it took too long to see the others we didn’t want to risk the kids being too tired to see the final one. So onward and…downwards. Down 165 steps to be exact (Finley counted). We approached Sgwd Yr Eira. The pièce de résistance. The ‘falls of snow’ as it’s otherwise known. A fantastic piece of nature standing right in front of us. The Afon Hepste plummets over the edge creating a curtain of water that can be stood behind, flowing down eventually meeting the Afon Mellte.
We scrambled along the rocks to the left of the river bed. At one point Molly was pulling some matrix moves trying to keep her balance. The rocks are very slippy but as long as you don’t mind getting a bit of mud on your knees, it’s worth the scramble.
The ledge to get under the waterfall is one at a time, single file, feet sideways. The space underneath the falls is actually quite spacious. We all fit underneath quite comfortably. Even Superted, the class bear Oliver conveniently brought home for half term.
We shuffled our way along to the other side, gaping and taking pictures and trying not to lose the children. As we made our way back to where we came from, I thought we did. Oliver had been standing on the back wall under the waterfall as I was trying to sort my bag out, Dicky standing in front of me. I saw Oliver leap, and disappear. I screamed his name and he leapt back, oblivious to the panic he’d just caused. For that split second I thought he’d gone, gushed down with the flow of the water and it was one of the most scariest moments of my life.
So I cried, for the second time that day. And so did he. After a good telling off at how irresponsible his actions were, we both cried together as the panic eased off. A few cuddles and a spot of lunch later, all was right in the world and we decided to tackle the other 2 waterfalls. We took a few family pictures, noting that trying to set the timer on the camera is a task that takes a lot longer than it should do. The kids really enjoyed looking at the different waterfalls and seeing how they all flowed differently due to the shape of the rocks.
The Way Back
Eventually a mist started descending on us, so we decided it was time to head back to the car. Poor little Molly, because of her low muscle tone in her legs, was now finding the mud and hills a bit of a struggle. The terrain certainly wasn’t flat and lifting her legs took a bit of effort. “It’s OK”, I said, “I’ll carry her”. What on earth was I thinking! The walk took us an hour, all uphill, over mud trenches and boulders, and I did this with a squiggly 4 year old on my back! She may be little but she’s a dead weight when she wants to be.
Exhausted and cold, we finally made it back to the car. Not before hearing some night owls hooting in the distance.
Overall it is a fantastic walk. I think we covered 7 miles in total and my calves certainly felt it the next day. But, I like a challenge as it makes it more worthwhile for the tears and frustrations that come with hiking with 3 children. They are hard work sometimes, but to see their faces when we come across something like Sgwd Yr Eira makes the troubles worth it. It may not be Niagra Falls but it sure feels like it to them.
The important bits.
Total time: At least 4 hours if walking with kids and taking a picnic.
Car park: we used the Gwaun Hepste. £3 all day, pay and display.
Postcode: CF44 9JF.
Not suitable for pushchairs as the terrain is very uneven and the routes down to the waterfalls are very steep.