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"Awen yn codi o'r cudd ac yn cydio'r cwbl"
- Waldo Williams
(Awen arising from hiding and everything binding)

Bro'r Sgydiau (Waterfall Country)

Sgwd yr Eira

A few weeks back, when Autumn still had some traces of Summer left in it, and had not yet turned its face to Winter, we went into what is known as 'Waterfall Country', the area of South Wales where the hills of the Brecon Beacons descend to the western valleys, where layers of sedimentary rocks, soft mudstones and harder sandstones, erode differentially to create a series of waterfalls down the courses of the rivers Nedd, Mellte and Hepste. The day was clear and bright, but preceding days had brought rain, so conditions were perfect for a walk to see waterfalls. We went up through the forest from the narrow mountain road, first to the fall of Clun Gwyn and then higher up to the fall called Sgwd yr Eira ('Fall of Snow')

You have to descend to this fall down a steep and slippery path from the main track through the forest, then clamber over rocks wet with spray from the fall. The path takes you behind the cascade so you can stand with your back to the cliff face watching a sheet of water falling a couple of feet in front of you. It's a breathtaking experience, not to be undertaken by the faint-hearted. Emerging into the open again brings a sense of relief and achievement.

These waterfalls are small compared to those I remember seeing in Norway, where meltwaters from glaciers cascade great distances over cliffs, or those in the Alps where rivers are more torrential and the height of the falls greater. But the experience is no less intense and in some ways more enthralling by virtue of being so close to home.

Having driven up the narrow mountain road to the beginning of the walk, we decided to take the most direct route home, which was to continue up the road and follow it for twelve miles to pick up the A40, rather than take a longer route south and then north again.

The road continues to ascend for a while to pick up the line of the River Llia which flows over high ground. The road passes a standing stone known as Maen Llia in a rushy space between the road and the river, standing against the bleak, nearly treeless expanse of high moorland. Then the road suddenly turns at an escarpment and zig-zags dramatically down into the valley of the River Senni. From here the view is spectacular but it closes in as the road winds down and the open landscape gives way to fields and hedges making driving along the single-track road even more difficult as visibility is restricted to the next bend. Around one of these it was necessary to stop for over ten minutes as hundreds of sheep were driven across the road.

Arriving eventually at the main road at Sennybridge there is a very real sense that an adventure is over and from that point we are simply 'driving home'.

Under the Waterfall

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