Geo-Trips :: Waterfalls of the Afon Mellte and Afon Hepste, including Sgŵd Clun-gwyn

Waterfalls of the Afon Mellte and Afon Hepste

A walk from Gwaun Hepste car park, Tue, 11 Apr 2017 by Rudi Winter

This Geotrip is a figure-of-eight walk from Gwaun Hepste car park a little south of Ystradfellte. There is a small parking charge payable at a machine.

The walk begins by leaving the car park towards the south on a wide forestry road. After about a kilometre, a signposted track branches off towards the right to begin descending towards the Afon Mellte. Soon after, the first and tallest of the waterfalls, Sgŵd Clun-gwyn can be first heard and then seen on the right. There are large smooth rock slabs on the opposite side, from where it is easier to get up close to the big cascade.

Following the Afon Mellte downstream on a woody path atop a steep river bank, partly on a (comfortably wide) ledge in the middle of a cliff, we soon reach the next waterfall, Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn. It comes in three steps arranged in an attractive bend. The path descends to the bottom of the lowest step, where it is possible to get right onto the rock slabs in the river bed. There are a few path diversions on safety grounds in the area around the cliffs.

Another few hundred metres downstream, Sgŵd y Pannwr is reached. This fall has an interesting shape in that the edge is parallel with the direction of the river. There is a long rocky trench which takes excess water from the upper river bed in spate conditions and feeds it sideways into the main cascade.

From here, the path zig-zags steeply up the side of the valley until it reaches the track skirting the edge of the gorge. After following this track to the right for a short distance, there is a path descending steeply over some steps into the gorge of the Afon Hepste, a tributary of the Afon Mellte. At the bottom, we find Sgŵd yr Eira, a perfect curtain waterfall consisting of a single cascade. It is possible to walk behind the curtain and look out over the downstream section of the river. A pictorial notice reminds us not to stay underneath the cliffs for too long as some rocks might fall down.

While the path does continue out of the gorge on the other side of the waterfall, this would take us too far away from the car park, so it is better to retrace our steps back to the point where we left the main track and continue on it (to the right). The track soon bends towards the north and follows high above the Mellte gorge through woodland until we return to the top of Sgŵd Clun-gwyn. This time, we follow the path upstream to a footbridge (which gives access to the rocky ledges beside the top of the main cascade). The path comes down to the river level and leads through beautiful broadleaf woodland. It is quite eroded in places because it tends to get flooded when the river is in spate. After another kilometre or so, the Afon Mellte disappears from view as it runs underground through porous limestone for a short section. There is a pothole amongst some rocks to the right of the path just before reaching the minor road; it is one of the entrances into the cave system of Porth-yr-Ogof.

We turn right onto the minor road and follow it up the hill. After a few hundred metres, turn right again at a road junction and follow the road to the access to the car park, which is reached after a few hundred metres inside the forest.

On the map below, the grey line is the GPS track from this trip. Click the blue circles to see a photograph taken from that spot and read further information about the location. The blue lines indicate the direction of view. There is also a slideshow of this trip. ( )

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SN9311 : Take me down to the river by Rudi Winter
Take me down to the river
After a kilometre of wide, flat forest road, at last a track diverges to take us... more

SN9210 : Tree above Sgŵd Clun-gwyn by Rudi Winter
Tree above Sgŵd Clun-gwyn
The link path down to the foot of the Sgŵd Clun-gwyn waterfall... more

SN9210 : Sgŵd Clun-gwyn by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd Clun-gwyn
The uppermost and tallest of the waterfalls in the Afon Mellte. The people on the... more

SN9210 : Afon Mellte between the waterfalls by Rudi Winter
Afon Mellte between the waterfalls
This section of the river lies downstream of Sgŵd Clun-gwyn... more

SN9210 : Braiding in the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Braiding in the Afon Mellte
Just upstream of the waterfall, Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn... more

SN9210 : Unnamed tributary of the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Unnamed tributary of the Afon Mellte
The dense vegetation and the steep angle of view makes this picture a little... more

SN9210 : Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn
The upper two of three sections of the waterfall in the Afon Mellte known as... more

SN9210 : Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn
The waterfall comes in three segments, the middle one being the tallest. The path... more

SN9210 : Rapids in the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Rapids in the Afon Mellte
This small step in the riverbed is the end of the Sgŵd Isaf Clun-gwyn... more

SN9210 : Sgŵd y Pannwr by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd y Pannwr
An interesting waterfall in the Afon Mellte, where the step is almost parallel to... more

SN9210 : Sgŵd y Pannwr by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd y Pannwr
Looking along the edge of the waterfall, which is oriented parallel with the... more

SN9210 : Upstream section of Sgŵd y Pannwr at low water levels by Rudi Winter
Upstream section of Sgŵd y Pannwr at low water levels
The riverbed upstream of the waterfall can be seen on the left. At the centre is... more

SN9210 : Flow channel at Sgŵd y Pannwr by Rudi Winter
Flow channel at Sgŵd y Pannwr
The riverbed upstream of the waterfall can be seen on the right. At the centre is... more

SN9209 : Sgŵd yr Eira by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd yr Eira
The waterfall in the Afon Hepste, about 600m upstream of its confluence with the... more

SN9209 : Walkers passing behind Sgŵd yr Eira by Rudi Winter
Walkers passing behind Sgŵd yr Eira
Two walkers approach the section of the path passing behind the waterfall... more

SN9209 : Sgŵd yr Eira sideways by Rudi Winter
Sgŵd yr Eira sideways
The path passing behind the waterfall http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5670162 can... more

SN9209 : View through Sgŵd yr Eira by Rudi Winter
View through Sgŵd yr Eira
The view downstream the Afon Hepste through the curtain of water that is the... more

SN9210 : Warning sign at Sgŵd yr Eira by Rudi Winter
Warning sign at Sgŵd yr Eira
The sign is on the north side of the waterfall and reminds walkers not to linger... more

SN9211 : Footbridge on the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Footbridge on the Afon Mellte
The footbridge is located upstream of the waterfalls in the Afon Mellte.

SN9211 : Broadleaf woodland by the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Broadleaf woodland by the Afon Mellte
A wonderfully calm scene in which the Afon Mellte moves gently through broadleaf... more

SN9211 : Riverside path by the Afon Mellte by Rudi Winter
Riverside path by the Afon Mellte
The path is quite eroded due to regular flooding. Many exposed rocks and roots... more

SN9212 : Pot hole near Porth yr Ogof by Rudi Winter
Pot hole near Porth yr Ogof
This entrance to the cave system lies just south of the point where the eastern... more

All images © Rudi Winter and available under a Creative Commons licence external link.

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