When you visit Wales, you’ll discover that it is waterfall country! Rivers roar from the highest mountains in the UK through woodlands, over cliffs, until they roll gently to the ocean. This combination of rivers and geography, plus time-etched peaks, makes for some of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world. There are so many to find, and each is easily accessible. Following are seven of our favorites, and three of them are in Snowdonia, the largest National Park in Wales.
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The Fairy Falls
This entire area of Snowdonia, which has a series of falls, is called “Fairy Glen.” The main fall is about 25-feet-tall and it courses over angled rock that was formed during the last ice age. During the Edwardian era, there was a sweet path next to the river, the Crafnant, that feeds the falls. It was a popular spot for artists to recline and the upper-crust to stroll and imagine tales of ancient fairies. There were numerous sightings of fairies here, as well as elves and goblins. The village, just 5 miles away, has a traditional pub with local food.
Also in Snowdonia, the park rangers have paid particular attention to keeping the area of Conwy Falls pristine. (You can feel it as you walk through the designated ancient woodlands.) Spectacular Conwy Falls races through the deep gorge of Fairy Glen, and there are plenty of paths and viewpoints to take it all in. The top portion of the falls is ideal for bird-watching—there are 32 species here alone—and you might catch a glimpse of wildlife. The café was designed by renowned Welsh architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, and it’s just behind the falls on a spectacular path.
Tucked inside a steep ravine in Snowdonia, three waterfalls tumble down a craggy mountain that’s surrounded by native woods. This stunning canyon is home to rare ferns, mossy stones, orchids, and bluebells. At the bottom, the waterfall disappears into a deep pool that speaks of mysteries. Dip your feet in the cool waters. Climb to the top, and you’re in a meadow that catches the sun—a perfect spot for picnicking. In the distance, you’ll hear a whistle. A narrow gauge train, the Talyllyn Railway, runs straight to the falls from the village.
Devil’s Bridge Falls
Visitors have made a pilgrimage to this place of wonder for centuries. The dazzling Mynach Falls tumble over a drop of almost 300 feet. There are three bridges that span the river at the top of the falls. The first bridge was said to have been built by the devil himself—it was much too difficult a job for a mere mortal. He crossed the countryside, and was finally outwitted by a village woman and banished forever, leaving his handiwork behind. Hundreds of slate steps lead to the top, giving vantage points along the way. This was the setting for the first episode of Hinterlands. Enjoy!
Four Waterfalls Walk
It’s here in Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in South Wales, that you’ll find the largest cave entrance in Wales. Take a peek before you head to the falls on the posted route. This path follows two rivers that bubble and then vanish underground. Keep walking . . . the rivers suddenly burst to the surface again in the woodlands. Soon you’ll hear the thunderous voice of the first river, Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, translated as “the fall of the white meadow.” The route twists, and you’ll experience the delight of cool spray from three other waterfalls as they join together and soak the ancient stones along the River Mellte.
Did you see the Batman movie finale, The Dark Knight Rises? If so, you’ve had a glimpse of Henrhyd Falls—they play the part of the Bat Cave. This is the highest waterfall in South Wales, and it’s a particular amazement right after a heavy downpour! At any time, walk behind the falls and feel the power. (Be careful, though. It’s slippery.) Follow the path around Henrhyd into Brecon Beacons, and hike through the Nant Llech valley past an old windmill and through lovely meadows.
Aberdulais Falls and Tin Works
In the Neath Valley, when the Dulais River is very full, the Aberdulais waterfall raises its voice to a roar, and it is magnificent. Its power has, literally, been the driving force for over 400 years in this area. The Falls are part of the popular Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall National Trust in South Wales. The waterfall is 20,000 years old, and it has etched its tale across the mossy stones. Stop into the Tin Works and listen to Welsh workers tell stories by candlelight. It’s an authentic experience.