I was idly browsing the internet the other night when I came across some pictures of a waterfall called Pistyll Rhyd-y-Meinciau (aka Rhiwargor waterfall) on the Afon Eiddew near to where it flows into Lake Vyrnwy. It looked like it was worth a visit so, given a favourable weather report for today, off I went. The plan was to have a look at the falls so see if a future visit with full camera kit under decent conditions would be worth it, then get up above the falls and [censored] around on the moors for a bit. No real plan other than to simply have a look.
As it turns out I ended up doing this route, give or take:
Parking up at the northern tip of Lake Vyrnwy in the Rhiwargor car park, I then followed the waymarked trail up a pleasant valley to the falls, which were about a kilometre away. The top of the falls was just visible above the trees from the car park:
On the approach to the falls:
Getting closer! Falls still hiding behind trees:
The view back down the valley:
Upon reaching the falls, I was pleasantly surprised - they were a bit more impressive than I'd imagined they'd be, the stream falling in several cascading sections over a total height of around 70 metres.
I stopped to take a few pictures at the base of the falls, noting that there was a path rising to their left that would allow some good pictures along their full height on a future visit.
The map shows a path flanking the hillside to the right of the falls and leading up to the wild valley beyond. I could see a slaty runnel running directly up the hill from where I was standing and suspected that this would meet up with the path. As it happens, there was no path and the slaty runnel was simply a route used by sheep to come down off the hillside. By the time I realised this I was a fair way up and too lazy to go back down. And so it was I found myself scaling a precipitous slope for some 200m, going directly up the side of Bwlan (not named on the 1:50000 map). It was tough going; loose, slippery and very, very steep. I was literally crawling up on hands and knees a lot of the time, grasping great clumps of heather to stop me sliding back down. Just when I couldn't get any more fed up, the heather gave way to gorse
. Oh deep joy. However, I soon found out that the pain inflicted by gorse thorns is inversely proportional to the imminent liklihood of falling off a hill so I carried on, collecting handfulls of pointy little blighters as I went. After what seemed like an age the angle finally relented and it got grassier underfoot. The flat top of Bwlan was finally mine as I collapsed in a sweaty heap and spent a few moments pulling thorns from my hands and clothing.
At least the views were good. Below me, Lake Vyrnwy was visible, nestled within the folds of the surrounding hills:
Behind me lay a huge expanse of desolate moorland, miles of the stuff, watched over by a distant Aran ridge:
Bwlan's grassy, flat top provided delightfully easy going for a while, with little in the way of boggy ground. As I made my way towards the 528m spot height the sun came out and the sky filled with the song of skylarks. The views went on for miles - vast swathes of nothingness as far as the eye could see. I enjoyed the solitude for a while then stopped for a bite to eat and a look at the map.
To my left, I had the dark hump of Moel y Cerrig Duon, watched over by the Arans:
To my right, I had the slightly lighter hump of Foel y Geifr, it's summit trig point clearly visible. I flipped a virtual coin and Foel y Geifr won the honour of being today's destination. I headed off NW and before too long the pathless terrain changed to the deep, tussocky grass and heather that the outlying Berwyns are infamous for. The going was extremely tough as I detoured around large areas of bog and stomped my way through the relentless heather. It didn't help matters that Foel y Geifr's trig point didn't seem to be getting any closer. I dropped down to ford the Nant Nadroedd Fawr and plodded on up the slopes the other side, the heather seemingly getting deeper with every step. I would love to tell you all exactly how tough and thoroughly miserable the going was but I fear the forum swear filter would reach overload. Eventually, I found myself at the summit trig point. By now the weather had taken a turn - the sun was obscured by gathering grey clouds and the wind was whipping up. I admired the quickly fading views, taking in the Arans, Rhinogs, Arenigs and distant Carneddau then headed down east off the summit to meet the narrow road coming up the Hirnant Pass from Bala. Resisting temptation to 'borrow' one of the two mountain bikes I found stashed in long grass at the side of the road, I began the stroll back down to Vyrnwy, passing through picturesque mature conifer and deciduous woodland, littered with little ravines and babbling streams.
The road back down to Vyrnwy:
Before heading back to the car, I detoured back round to the waterfall, for a couple more piccies before heading home:
Total route around 8 miles. Probably the hardest 8 miles I've ever walked. The waterfall is well worth a return visit. Sod the rest of it.