My first morning in South Wales and I was presented with a deluge of water, unfortunately I wasn't at the waterfalls just yet, I had woken up and was watching the bedroom window being thoroughly doused with rain. Needless to say, a sunrise shoot was out of the question, the sky was a pewter cloak over a sallow landscape. So I went back to bed and hoped conditions would improve.
Once I had re-emerged, the torrent had reduced to a drizzle, so I grabbed my gear and headed up to the Brecon Beacons to visit those waterfalls.
|A little fall on the Nedd Fechan, I'm not even sure it has a name.|
I stopped at the Pont Melin-fach car park, a little spot found at the end of a very steep, narrow lane that wanders downwards under a canopy of trees, until it opens out next to the river Nedd Fechan. I put on my wellies and took the path that follows the run of the river.
It was still relatively early in the morning, and it was a weekday, so there were very few people about. The walk was as peaceful as could be, just the sound of the gurgling river, occasionally breaking into a churning applause whenever a waterfall was reached. The Nedd Fechan is home to three impressive waterfalls, and along with it's sister rivers, the Pyrddin, Hepste and Mellte, all tributaries of the River Neath, and all with their own collection of falls, they make the Vale of Neath a bit of a waterfall paradise.
|A view of Upper Gushing Falls and a whirlpool of autumn leaves.|
My first stop was at Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf or Upper Gushing Falls, and I was pleased to see that there was a bit of autumn colour, not only in the surrounding trees, but on the leaves that littered rocks and floated by on the swirling surface of the river.
The falls were looking as nice as I'd ever seen them, the branches were dripping with green and gold, and the rocks almost looked bejeweled with their russet red leaves, plus the extra water provided by the recent rain helped to bolster the fall into a very handsome spectacle.
|Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf in full flow.|
The overcast sky was helping to keep the colours nice and saturated, and the constant drizzle was doing the same to my camera, which was an ongoing pain. Luckily I had brought a supply of tissues and I used them to mop up the water between shots.
I didn't stop at Lower Gushing Falls but carried on to Sgwd y Bedol or Horseshoe Falls, which are in fact a series of four falls in quick succession, beginning with a curved ledge which gives the falls it's name. I made my way down the muddy, slippery path to the rivers edge and got a shot of the cascading drops as they stepped upstream along the rivers course, all under a canopy of gloriously resplendent foliage.
|The Horseshoe falls cascades.|
I then walked a short trip back up the path, and found a spot on the rocky shelf that overlooks the horseshoe part of the falls, with a view of Lower Gushing Falls in the background.
|OK, so it's not exactly a horseshoe shape, but it's close enough.|
Once I had returned to the car I took the 15 minute drive to the village of Resolven, and made my way to Melincourt Falls. The Melin Court Brook, another tributary of the River Neath, contains several waterfalls on it's precipitous journey downwards, dropping 450 feet in the space of just 3 miles, but Melincourt, with it's 80 foot drop is the most spectacular.
It's been a popular spot for visitors for 200 years, since it was painted by Turner in 1794, but on this dreary day I had the place to myself. Again, thanks to the recent rain, the fall was in full flow and the noise it created could only be described as thunderous.
|It's hard to get a sense of scale, but some of those boulders at the bottom of the fall are almost as tall as me.|
I clambered up a steep path to one side of the waterfall, which afforded me a view of Melincourt and the autumn hued trees that lined it's base, and in between wiping the water off my camera, generated by the steady brume of spray from the falls pounding the rocks below, I get a few shots.
As a bonus I was stood just below a much smaller fall, that is often no more then a dribble, but today was a continuous silky curtain.
|The little fall that sits off to the right of the main attraction.|
As the day was drawing to a close I left the Brecon Beacons behind and drove back to the coast, and my accommodation. Just as the conditions had created an ideal day for photographing waterfalls, it also meant that a sunset was out of the question, the weather was just too dismal.
|A bit of autumn colour to finish off with.|