In less than an hour’s drive from Cardiff is the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. In attempts to keep in good health and get in shape, I often plan trips to the various walks, trails and hikes in the spectacular local scenery. I headed to the area known as Waterfall Country where an unusually large number of publicly accessible falls are to be found.
How to get to Cwm Porth’s Visitor Centre
I try to go a few times of year on the Breacon Beacons Waterfall Walk. It is also known as the Breacon Beacons Four Falls Trail. To me, we just say, “fancy a walk in Waterfall Country?”. I usually stop in Ystradefellte at the Cwm Porth car park, which is £4 for the day. It is small, so if it is full, there are nearby farms (which you will see signposted on the way), who allow you to park on their land for £5. Cwm Porth’s Visitor Centre’s postcode is CF44 9JF.
Ystradfellte is a small village, which won Powys Village of the Year in 2004. It is a top-rated stop off for tourists to visit the waterfalls and caves. In previous visits, I have seen groups coasteering and caving. It has a small 16th Century church and pub, and post office which is only open for 2 hours a day Monday-Friday.
What will you need for your waterfall country hike?
The lush wooded valley landscape is a moderate to advanced walk that takes in the picturesque scenery and waterfalls. If you are starting your exercise journey, it might not be one for you. You do need some exertion, and to be sure on your feet. There are some steep hills and a lot of uneven ground. Hiking boots are not essential; however, I would recommend a good pair of trainers.
Make sure you are prepared for the walk too. You will need a bottle or two of water. I’d recommend taking a backpack to put these in, as on some bits of the trail you’ll need your hands free to use to balance on trees or rocks. Perhaps, some snacks too, and a small first aid kit – just in case.
For those more adventurous, many of waterfalls have plunge pools. Other walkers have also made rope swings in several locations. Perhaps your bikini, bathers or wetsuit – and of course a towel – are possibilities too.
I would also say to have a spare pair of shoes or flip flops in your car. I often come back with wet or muddy shoes – and hot feet – and want to change them before I drive home
How long does the Brecon Beacons Waterfall Walk take?
The route is well signposted. As you enter the trail, the board explains that there are a few routes to follow, and some even overlap each other. If you want to see all four waterfalls, you will need to track along the red path. It will take you between 3 and 4 hours. You can also purchase a map from the visitors centre.
The four waterfalls are called Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd yr Eira – which is the one you can walk behind.
Is walking good for your health?
I was intrigued to know if walking could improve your body shape, or help lose or reduce belly fat. Upon doing the research, I learnt that walking is a good starting point for anyone looking to begin an exercise program and is a staple for many who exercise frequently. Like cardiovascular exercise, walking burns calories. So moving more, and getting your legs moving can help with weight loss, getting toned and tightened your figure. As fitness levels improve, you can walk for longer and at a faster pace. Adding intensity such as adding hills will also improve your physique – so yes, hiking can help you lose weight and tone your body.
Walking in nature is also a great way to help with mental health. City dwellers (so… me!) also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other illnesses than people living outside urban areas. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality.
I love walking in waterfall country!
I would highly recommend those living in South Wales or from further afield to explore the area. Don’t get me wrong; at times, I curse myself when my thighs are burning from climbing up the steep hills. However, I love it! The scenery is fascinating. You see hills, lakes, caves, forests and of course the waterfalls. There is so much to discover. I enjoy visiting villages with characterful country pubs – my favourite part of the visit.