In my return to blogging I’m super excited to share with you mine and Bonnie’s latest trip to the Waterfall Country, Wales.
I love writing and after a break I am back. Since starting to spend more time outside, I often find it hard to shorten everything I want to say, into an Instagram caption…so here we are. You’re lucky over here to get my full ramblings!
This weekend Bonnie [my dog] and I headed to Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons for a hike. We were supposed to be running a trail half marathon along the Jurassic Coast but due to injury we made a switch. My injury has kept adventures on hold for a few weeks and I was just itching to get out. The Waterfall country did not disappoint so grab a cuppa and read all about it below.
I found the route we planned to walk on Komoot. The beauty of Komoot is that other people submit photos of key points along the route so you can get a preview of the highlights you’re going to see. It also has the feature where you can select a highlight like ‘Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall’ and you can see all of the routes in the app that have that waterfall on the route and choose your distance to suit. We chose the Full Waterfall walk which is around 17.5km. You can save the route to your Komoot profile and follow it as you go. Since I hike alone [until Mark is back from deployment] I download the gpx file and upload it to my watch [Garmin Fenix 6 pro] and use that to guide me to save my phone battery.
Onto the Adventure
03.59 I woke, one minute before my alarm… I’m always conflicted when this happens…. was I anxious that I would miss my alarm or was I just ready to get up? At that time of the morning I’d probably say it was the former.
First things first. Coffee! Bonnie was still in bed and stayed there until it was time to leave- she’s not so enthusiastic about 4am alarms. I went downstairs, made myself a coffee- conscious to be quiet so I didn’t wake anyone else. Heading back upstairs, happy with my coffee in hand, it was time to get ready for our adventure.
The forecast was set to pour with rain so I’d set out layers, waterproofs and spare kit to travel home in. The aim was to stay as dry as possible- knowing that completely dry was not an option. I’d been fortunate to receive a PR package from Sweaty Betty the day before with their new Thermodynamic thermal running leggings and quarter zip top. The timing couldn’t have been more impeccable, they were perfect.
Car packed up, hot chocolate in my flask and Bonnie finally up and ready to go, we set off on our adventure in the pitch black while the world was still sleeping. It was just over a two hour drive for us from Warwickshire to the Gwaun Hepste car park. As we were nearing the carpark, there were waterfalls to the sides of the road and I found myself getting emotional. HOW could it be this beautiful?! We were the first car there, perfect! For anyone planning to go, if you get there before 8am parking is £4 for the day, after 8am £5. They have two ticket machines and accept cash and card, so you shouldn’t be caught short and unable to get a ticket. I had no signal in and around the carpark, so I’d definitely recommend making sure you had your route planned ahead of arrival.
I loaded up our route on my watch and off we went. A real talent [read shortcoming] of mine is to head off on a looped route and actually be walking it in reverse…. yeah, that happened. Generally speaking it’s not a huge problem if it does happen because I’m still just following a dot on a map… just backwards and ignoring all instructions to try and get us back on the actual route. At the start, given how early we were beginning our hike, it was a real blessing because it meant we had this waterfall all to ourselves to get such an amazing snap and feel like we could take it all in- rather than feeling rushed to move on because everyone else is waiting- that happened later at the others.
To be there by ourselves was such a luxury and quite overwhelming to take it all in. The waterfall itself felt so powerful, mighty and unapologetically fierce. Like, imagine if that was how someone described you, how epic would that be. Stood there in that moment, just me, Bonnie and potentially the most powerful moment I’ve ever felt in nature, it all made sense why I do what I do. It’s in those moments that you realise how much you are missing when you don’t go and explore all that the great outdoors has to offer. You learn a lot about yourself when you go out on adventures like this alone. You aren’t chatting the whole way…. [well, to be honest, I do actually talk to Bonnie a lot along the way…but there’s no two way conversation]. I don’t listen to anything, I don’t want to miss anything along the way so when you aren’t in awe of the expanse in front of you, you’re often lost in your own thoughts.
Back to the hike… we left this waterfall and continued along our route through the wooded trails, starting to come across others starting out their walks. We were SO spoilt with the weather. I’d come out in a long sleeve, thermal layer over the top, a gilet and a waterproof coat…. I was so hot after expecting it to be cold and wet all day!
About a fifth of the way into the route we found ourselves out of the trails and walking along a roadside… This was NOT what I came here for– was all I could think the whole way along this road. The road led into a village and in total made up about 2/5 of the entire route. If I was to go again [which I undoubtedly will when Mark is back], I’d plot my own route to try and keep to trails because this was the least enjoyable section and made up a lot of the total route.
Back to the trails. It was around the Dinas carpark we managed to jump back onto the trails and we were back chasing waterfalls [hurrah]. We picked the pace back up and marched past this lovely group of people who let us past…. little did we know we’d see them twice more as we kept diverting from the route. On we went to another waterfall, just a small detour from the route but lovely. It was a slippery steep climb down but it was worth it. This was was of those moments where you feel rushed to quickly snap and move on because there were people above that didn’t want to climb down, trying to take photos.
We climbed back up to the top and jumped back onto our actual route again… back behind the group we’d previously passed. We caught up with them and on our second pass- they asked if we were on round two already- haha no… just took a detour for a waterfall. On we went. We were still yet to come across the waterfall I’d read about that you could pass behind…
I was so happy to be back on the trails, a small light shower of rain came and went but we weren’t phased since we’d set out expecting a full day of pouring rain. There it was! The waterfall I’d be waiting and hoping for. It was HUGE! So loud, so powerful and actually, the closer you got… the scarier it seemed. If you remember, at the beginning, I said we’d actually set out on the reverse of the route… that was about to be a problem…
We were making our way down the rocky descent to the base of the waterfall… until we see a sign that says ‘Turn around point’… uh oh. Maybe you can’t walk behind it after all. I could see a huge group of people in the other side walking toward the waterfall but I was yet to see anyone pass through from one side to the other. I figured that sign was there for a reason on this side so I did turn around and we started making our way back up to the top of the trails. I didn’t have any signal, but I could access the route on Komoot so I started looking for an alternative to passing through the waterfall. We HAD to find a way over the water since we were parked on that side somewhere… I walked back and forth on this one section unable to find an alternative [without adding sooooooo many more kms onto our alreadt fairly long walk] and getting frustrated. Sod it. Surely, if you can pass from the other side to this side, then you should be able to pass from this side to the other side. I decided we had no choice but to do it.
We start the descent again to the base of the waterfall. Guess who is in front of us again…. The same group we’d passed twice before.
Them: “are we missing lots or something?”
Me: “no…. I’ve been down here once already and it seems if I want to get back to my car… I have to go through!”
Me: “yep. Time to put the jacket back on!”
Luckily on the final steps down, there were two people coming towards us SOAKING they’d walked through. If they could, we could. The closer we got, the more powerful it got. I was scared, so was Bonnie but I knew it was possible. In order to keep Bonnie safe passing behind it, I HAD to be confident. The sheer power of the wind generated from the falling water and the spray, made it quite difficult. The path between the sheet of plummeting water and the wall behind it was narrow. One foot in front of the other, staying close to the wall, it was loud, SO loud. Bonnie didn’t like it, it must’ve felt so much more for her. I picked her up. Moments later we emerged from behind this waterfall. WE WERE DRENCHED. It was all very dramatic, me emerging cradling Bonnie in my arms and then it hit me. The adrenaline. The buzz. THAT WAS FANTASTIC! What a thrill! We hadn’t gone in reckless with wild a abandon of self preservation, I knew that we had to be as sensible and safe about it. IF it’d have gone wrong, it’d have gone very wrong. BUT it went SO right that it was absolutely exhilarating. I just couldn’t believe we’d just walked behind such a strong and almighty waterfall. It was strong, powerful and beautiful. We HAVE to come back with Mark, he’d LOVE this- I thought. Top tip- it’s obviously very wet, but also rocky and slippery- good hiking boots are a must.
We continued on the final stretch of our walk. The trails were busy now, I was so glad we’d set off when we had. There’s just something about being in these wonderful places alone.
Around 13:20, 17.55km later, we were back at our car tucking into the hot chocolate I’d prepared at 4am, feeling content.
If I didn’t have a dog, would I be going on these adventures completely alone? I don’t know the answer to that, she’s wonderful company and loves the adventure as much as me, so I guess we’ll also not have to find out the answer.
If you wanted to go and see the waterfalls, you absolutely don’t have to walk 17.55km. Head to Komoot, search the waterfall you really want to visit and then see what routes are on there and pick your distance, or create your own. Here’s an example of route that include Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall.
Driving home, all I could think was- I’m so glad we came. It was somewhere I’d wanted to visit for a while. I’d asked a friend if they wanted to come and they said no. I could’ve put it off and waited until someone wanted to come or Mark was home BUT I’m so glad we just went anyway. It was the best day. I am forever in awe of the beautiful places we can visit and their power to make me feel so small get so fulfilled.
If you’ve been waiting for a sign to go and visit that place you’ve been wanting to visit but haven’t ‘got around to’- just go!
Where shall we go next?
[this post mentions gifted items but is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliation with Komoot, I am just sharing something I love using and I think you could find useful too]