If you like chasing waterfalls and don’t mind a challenging hike, then the Four Waterfalls walk in Brecon Beacons National Park is a must. As the name suggests, you get to see four different waterfalls on the 5 mile circular trail.
While I love waterfalls, I wasn’t sure if I could do a difficult hike with my knee issues. It wasn’t easy but I was able to finish the Four Falls hike. I wanted to share my experience for anyone considering going on the Four Waterfalls walk in Wales.
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- Overview of the Four Waterfalls Walk
- Is the Four Waterfalls Hike Right for You?
- What to Bring on the Four Falls Hike
- Our Experience on the Four Waterfalls Walk
- How Long Does it Take to Do the Four Waterfalls Walk?
- Is the Four Falls Walk suitable for kids?
- Where do you park for the Four Waterfalls Hike?
- How does the Four Falls Hike compare to Pen Y Fan?
- Is the Four Waterfalls Hike Worth it?
- Expert Tips for the Four Waterfalls Hike
Overview of the Four Waterfalls Walk
The Four Waterfalls Circular Walk in the Brecon Beacons National Park takes you to discover Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr, and Sgwd-yr-Eira. To see these four falls along the River Mellte, you will need to deviate from the circular route, but the views will be worth it.
We started the trail from the Gwaun Hepste parking lot. From there, it’s a bit of a walk to the first waterfall. After the Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, return to the circular path. Before long you will see the turnoff for the next two waterfalls. Then it’s more of the circular path until you reach the turnoff for the last waterfall. Then, it’s the home stretch of the circular path and repeating a bit of route back to the parking lot.
The five-mile long walk is marked with numbered posts that correspond to the map on the sign by the parking lot. We watched the numbers to make sure we were on track and also to get an idea of how far it would be to the next waterfall.
Note: This should not be confused with the Elidir Trail which also includes four waterfalls.
Is the Four Waterfalls Hike Right for You?
The Four Falls walk is difficult, there are several intimidating signs that made me think twice about doing it. I am glad I went ahead and completed the hike. It’s definitely one of the best I have ever done.
If you are wondering if you should do the Four Watefalls Hike, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you able to walk 5 miles? There are benches along the route, so you can take breaks as needed.
- Are you able to do stairs? To reach waterfalls 2,3, & 4 you will need to do a total of 250 stairs (each way up and down). The stairs are broken up into a few sections. Some of the steps have handrails but not all.
While you could complete the circular route without going down to the waterfalls, you would be missing the best parts. If you don’t want to go down (and up) a lot of steps, I would recommend choosing another hike.
What to Bring on the Four Falls Hike
To get the most of your time doing the four waterfalls walk, you will want to come prepared. Here are my suggestions for what you should think about bringing with you.
Hiking Shoes – On the Four Waterfall walk the path is quite rocky and some spots were wet. I don’t think I would attempt this hike without hiking shoes.
Hiking Poles – We saw a lot of other people with hiking poles and I wish I would have had them. It would make going over some of the rough terrain easier and could have been helpful going down stairs when there wasn’t any handrail.
Water – It’s important to keep hydrated during your hike, so be sure to bring along plenty of water. You could bring a refillable water bottle like this or if you think you will drink a lot of water a hydration backpack like this may be more practical.
Food/Snacks – You are bound to get hungry along the walk, so bring some food along. There are many benches and other spots to stop and enjoy a snack.
Photography Gear – There will be plenty of photo opportunities so don’t forget your camera. We took some shots on our phones and also used our Sony A6000. If you want to use long exposure to get the best shots of the waterfalls, a tripod and filters will be required.
Sunscreen – While some of the Four Waterfalls path is shaded, there are sections that are not, especially at the beginning and the end of the hike. It’s a good idea to wear sweatproof sunscreen (like this) and apply it shortly before you begin the hike.
Swimsuit – We saw several people swimming in the water by some of the falls so you might want to bring along a swimsuit (and towel). If you don’t mind cold water, it could be fun. The water is very clean.
Our Experience on the Four Waterfalls Walk
It was our first time to do the Four Waterfalls hike, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me share our experience in detail so that you can be more prepared than we were.
Beginning the Four Waterfalls Walk
The first part of the Four Falls walk is definitely the easiest. It’s also the least scenic as you won’t even see any water. The path is straight for the most part with a bit of a decline. You will need to turn off to the right to head to the first waterfall, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, but don’t worry it is well signposted.
Note: You will walk this section again at the end of the hike to get back to your car.
Waterfall #1 Sgwd Clun-Gwyn
You don’t have to venture too far from the circular route to get to the first waterfall. The path down to the viewpoint is a bit rugged and quite rocky, but a good portion has a railing that you can use if you need it.
With the trees, it was hard to get a good view or photo. While the view might have been a bit impeded, I could still see the falls were quite powerful. Once you have your photo, then head back up and continue along the circular path.
Waterfalls #2 Sgwd Isaf Isaf Clun-Gwyn & #3 Sgwd y Pannwr
The circular path was a bit more challenging than I had expected but it was still very manageable. As we continued on we could hear the sounds of the water and I couldn’t wait to see the next waterfall.
When we reached the sign at the top of the turnoff for the next two waterfalls, I was having second thoughts. It said there were 90 steps broken up into two sections, wooden walkways, and stretches of steep rocky trail.
My first thought was that not only do I have to make my way down this treacherous route but I also need to be able to make it back up. Still, from the circular route I wasn’t able to see any of the waterfalls at all, so it would be a waste if I didn’t make the effort.
We took our time going down. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought. The rocky sections were probably the most challenging, but not impassable. The wooden walkways were only slightly above the ground to help you avoid the mud, but it was relatively dry when we were there.
At the bottom of the path, you can go either left or right as there is a waterfall in each direction. We chose to go left first and it took us to Sgwd y Pannwr, which is actually waterfall #3. This was my favorite waterfall of the walk because the different levels and flow of water looked like a painting.
The other waterfall was Sgwd Isaf Isaf Clun-Gwyn. You can see more of it if you walk over the rocks and peek around the corner. It has different levels too, but it’s not quite as dramatic as Sgwd y Pannwr because it is more spread out.
After seeing both falls, it was time to head back up the steps and rocky path. It wasn’t too bad, but we did stop to rest and chat with other hikers. I thought once I made it back up to the circular path I would have the most challenging part of the hike behind me, unfortunately that was not the case.
Waterfall #4 Sgwd-yr-Eira
The sign at the top of the path leading down to the fourth waterfall was even more intimidating than the last, but I had come so far and needed to see all the waterfalls. Again I thought I could take as much time as I needed.
The bad news is that it is 160 (sometimes steep) steps down to Sgwd-yr-Eira, but the good news is that there is a handrail along most of the steps. It’s also wide enough for two way traffic (or so that people can pass) in a lot of places.
This waterfall is the largest of the four. It doesn’t have multiple levels but it has three streams of water coming down. The pool at the bottom is a good size and since the water was calm, we saw several people go for a swim.
You can admire the falls from the front or walk over a few more rocks and go behind it. By the time we had arrived at Sgwd-yr-Eira, it had started to get a bit crowded and I wanted to save my energy for the climb back up, so we took some photos and headed back up.
The climb back up wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We took it easy and eventually made it back to the circular trail.
The Home Stretch of the Four Falls Walk
After seeing all four of the waterfalls, we were a bit tired but we still needed to get back to the car. There was still a substantial section of the circular route to finish plus we would need to walk the section of the trail that goes back to the parking lot.
Most of this part of the hike was uphill. It wasn’t steps or very steep but after all the work we had already done it wasn’t easy. There are several benches where you can rest, but most of the ones we passed were taken.
There is also not much to see along this part of the trail. We just kept an eye out for the numbered posts so that we had an idea of how much further we had to go.
When we made it back to the car, we were worn out but exhilarated at the same time. Russell got some coffee from a coffee van that happened to be there and I downed some more water. It had been a good day.
How Long Does it Take to Do the Four Waterfalls Walk?
It’s going to depend on how fast you like to hike and how much time you spend at each waterfall. Most things I read said that the hike would take two to four hours. We spent six hours in the area. A little more than three hours of that was hiking and the rest was taking photos and chatting with other hikers.
Is the Four Falls Walk suitable for kids?
It depends on the child. Keep in mind that the trail is five miles long and there are some steep sections.
Where do you park for the Four Waterfalls Hike?
You can park in Gwaun Hepste. It’s £5 for the day and you can pay by credit card.
How does the Four Falls Hike compare to Pen Y Fan?
Pen Y Fan is another popular hike in the Brecon Beacons. I think that the Four Falls walk is more difficult, especially the sections that lead to the waterfalls.
Read more about our experience doing the Pen Y Fan hike.
Is the Four Waterfalls Hike Worth it?
Yes. While it does take a lot of energy and I was wiped out by the end, the waterfalls are stunning. I felt proud of myself for completing a challenging hike. We had a great time taking pictures too. It is definitely one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons.
Have you done the Four Waterfalls Walk? Or would you like to?
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