Pistyll Rhaeadr: Welsh 100 – No 26

The May Bank Holiday is here, and as usual for a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK rain is forecast. After almost three weeks without rain, the heavens a due to open just as we arrive in Welshpool. But as we travelled up on Friday it looked promising for the evening. So after setting up the caravan we dashed off to Pistyll Rhaeadr, even though it wasn’t “just round the corner”.

Pistyll Rhaeadr, meaning “spring of the waterfall” is one of the highest waterfalls in Wales and can be found a few miles up a narrow country road from the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Powys, Wales. The road finishes at the end of a blind valley – if you want to go further it will have to be on foot.

 The waterfall collects its water from the heather and bog moors of the Berwyn mountains, which eventually feed into the little Afon Disgynfa (meaning descent or landing place) and then over a series of rapids over the bands of volcanic rock till it approaches the 240ft drop.

Look over the edge of the water fall is a little nerve wracking. The past 3 few weeks has seen very little rain  in Wales, unusual you may cry but welcome to those of us who live here. However, for today the lack of rain did mean that the falls are not as spectacular as they could be.

Here mudstone and shale are exposed and the water is able to carve itself shapes and pools as it plunges over the edge of the rock face.  The tallest stage is estimated at about 40 metres. It is counted as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The 19th century author George Borrow, in his book Wild Wales, remarked of the waterfall: “What shall I liken it to? I scarcely know, unless it is to an immense skein of silk agitated and disturbed by tempestuous blasts, or to the long tail of a grey courser at furious speed. I never saw water falling so gracefully, so much like thin, beautiful threads as here.”

The woods around the falls are covered in carpets of moss, giving an impression of secrets that lie under the pillows of rocks scattered about.

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