It had been a long while since Summit or Nothing had ventured as far as any mountain range. In fact, it was almost exactly a year since myself and Nath tackled and conquered Ben Nevis. Now the fact that my YouTube Channel is called Summit or Nothing, I guess it had been a bit of a failure on my behalf.
Yes, I had been confronted with a bit of a challenging year; having Nath depart from the channel, and having myself upping sticks and moving the family home being the two greatest set backs which threw a certain amount of turmoil in my direction. Regardless, I would say that I haven’t done too bad a job at keeping the channel moving forward; plenty of wild camping on Dartmoor, a lot of coast walking and some collaborations have kept it fresh but with fear of having to change my channel name to something like Trev Outdoors I knew that I needed to get back up a mountain or two.
I had put into motion an meet up with a fellow YouTuber Alan Metalman for a trip to the Lake District, with my eyes set on Helvellyn – the UK’s third largest mountain – and had also signed up and paid the £350 deposit to join a fundraising hike (any donations are welcome thanks) to the Himalayas next Autumn – raising some cash for the fantastic and important HospiceCare, so two great mountainous events to look forward too.
However, whilst I was waiting for these days to edge closer, some chaps at work (Den, Sean, and Frank) were discussing going to the Brecon Beacons on a bit of a road trip – traveling in convoy in their VW camper vans, and asked if I would like to join them. Of course, I did.
They were planning to drive up, sleep in the camper vans and hike across Pen Y Fan. Well, I soon persuaded them to also pack tents, and camp up on the mountain too. They all seemed to be up for that, and so, as we looked at what dates we were all likely to be available, the weekend after next appeared to be it.
We decided that driving up after work on Friday night would be the best option, and kipping in camper vans somewhere at the foot of the mountain. This way we could have a relatively decent night sleep and be refreshed for the following day. We also discussed how best to tackle the weekend – the mountain hike was going to be busy and hot– it promised to be the hottest day of the year so far, so we decided to save the Pen Y Fan Horseshoe hike for the evening – when it was cooler and less busy. So what to do in the meantime?
I remembered when Nath and I first visited the Brecon Beacons, with our partners and families in tow, that whilst we were hiking up the regions tallest mountain, that the ladies went on a spectacular waterfall walk, one of which was large enough for you to walk in behind, which sounded awesome and I was a little gutted too have missed it – I mean, who doesn’t like an impressive waterfall?
So this seemed like the perfect walk for such a hot day, so after we had breakfast (a fry up cooked on a large
camping stove – lovely except for a bloody egg) we set off – at first to find some signal so that we could google the starting location for the walk – and secondly to find the start location.
It was already busy by the time we arrived – which must have been midday if not later. The first car park we tried was full (Cwm Porth)… Well, so was the second,actually (Gwaun Hepst) but we managed to cram the campers up on a verge – which was cool until realised that we only had enough change between us for parking one vehicle – so Frank and Den ventured off to get some change from some shop or pub whilst we stood in their space telling other drivers that this massive empty space was taken. Eventually, Frank and Den strolled into the car park and said that they managed to ditch the camper in a bit of a layby up the road. So now, at last, we were ready to set off on the walk.
This 6 mile walk was set to take us about three hours, so as a scenic, yet leisurely gap filler before the main event, this was perfect. As we strolled inland, heading for the valleys carved by this ancient river, we followed the red trail markers – with the aim of having a bit of challenge and also taking in most of the waterfalls that this area had to offer, and we were not disappointed.
We hadn’t been walking for much more than ten minutes when we hit the first junction and a brief confusion passed between us – the sign post points that way, but we are following the trail, do we leave here? After a little deliberation, we realised that the waymarkers only pointed us in the general direction, taking us in a circular walk ‘up top’, so to speak and that we would have to leave the track to visit the various waterfalls. As soon as we understood this, the walk made a lot more sense.
So we soon took a brief walk down to visit falls number one – Sgwd Clun-Gwyn. (You may notice that in the video of this walk, we make absolutely no attempt at trying to pronounce these welsh waterfall names.) We viewed this waterfall from up high and took it in turns of taking each other's photo’s in front of it, before venturing back uphill to join the trail once again.
The next waterfall (Sgwd y Pannwr) was much more impressive, and the walk from the track was quite a descent. Once down there, however, it was great watching a group of wet suit and helmet-clad youngsters leaping from the top of the rocks and into the depths below – something I would like to go back and do myself, I think, as they skirt down river and follow the route down through each level of waterfall. But for the time being, I just stand around filming them.
It is only when I finish filming, that I realise that Frank and Sean have gone missing, and so Den and myself venture further up the river bank, looking for them, and find yet another waterfall (Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn) to marvel at – however the population is growing ever denser the nearer we get, and so after a thorough scan of the area for our companions (not there) we turn around and return to Sgwd y Pannwr, hoping that the guys are still around, but wondering if we may end up seeing them back at the vehicles later.
But upon returning to the falls, we see down beneath us at the river bank Sean drying out some clothes, it appears that he had gone for a bit of a swim whilst we were off looking for them. Frank must have just hung around to spectate.
So together again, we embark on the climb back up out of this ravine and back to the track – and our journey to the final and most memorable waterfall, the highlight of this walk, and definitely worth saving until last, the magnificent Sgwd yr Eira. We descend quite steeply away from the track this time, in fact, Den starts to cut out the zig-zag path in places, and just heads straight down.
At 10m high, it's not the tallest waterfall that you may have set eyes on, but its width is impressive, and the deep recess behind it, which allows you to easily walk behind the window of flowing water.
Once again, this location was very busy, and a bit of a queue had formed to get onto the ledges behind the falls, but it was worth sharing with so many others, its great to see so many other people of all ages marvel at such a natural sight of beauty. We hang around for a good while taking in the sight before finally bowing out and heading back.
And so our waterfall walk is bought to a close, and we follow Sean’s lead as he decides that Den’s preferred route on the way down was a good idea, and the four off us abandon the beaten track for a near-vertical hill climb, puffing a bit by the time that we reach the top, where we joined the 2km walk back to the car park.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this blog, you can find the Video of this walk on our Summit or Nothing YouTube Channel, so make sure that you have subscribed to keep up to date with our outdoor adventures. In the next blog, we remain in the Brecon Beacons for a misty yet awesome mountainside wild camp in the middle of the Pen Y Fan Horseshoe walk.