Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Waterfalls of Wales

To round our castle trips off we stopped off at Caerphilly Castle. A stone mountain of a place, surrounded by a series of moats and watery islands which was the brainchild of Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare. After 1486, the castle went into decline. The water defences drained away. In 1583 the castle was leased to Thomas Lewis, who stripped it of much of its stone to extend his house, causing extensive damage.

In 1642 the English Civil War broke out. South Wales was predominantly Royalist during the conflict. It is also uncertain whether or not Caerphilly Castle was deliberately slighted by Parliament to prevent its future use as a fortification. Although several towers had collapsed by the 18th century, possibly as a result of such an operation, it is probable that this deterioration was the result of subsidence damage caused when the water defences retreated, as there is no evidence of deliberate destruction having been ordered. One of the main towers still stands at a precarious angle which, it is claimed, leans more than twice that of the tower at Pisa.

So on to our base in Merthyr and the start of out waterfall walks. Wales really is five star walking country - but one sadness it has currently a major problem with verge side littering and fly tipping which, if left unchecked, could spoil one of its best natural resources.

First up was the Melincourt Trail (Llwybr Melin y Cwrt)

 After the hillside trek we took a gentler meander along part of the Neath Canal around Resolver:

After tea at the Aberdulais tea shop we rounded the day off with a short walk to the Henrhyd Falls (Sgwd Henryd) which, at over 90 ft, is the largest waterfall in South Wales. One of two major falls we found where, if fully waterproofed, you can walk behind - a magnet for school adventure trips.

After a good nights rest it was on to Nant Llech river trail 

After refreshments at the Garwent Forest Centre it was off to the Taf Fechan Trail near our base in Merthyr. The river course contained some amazing geological formations caused, over the years, by river erosion. The river crossing turning point is at the base of an impressive worked out stone quarry.

Ending the day in the marvellous Star pub in Talybont on Usk purveyors of fine real ale and good company.

The penultimate day saw us on the Four Falls Trail from Cwm Porth, taking in Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd yr Eira and Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn.

at the outset there are some serious caves, reserved for experienced cavers only!

Sadly it was time to meander home, but via Craig y nos country park. Situated in a picturesque location in the secluded upper Swansea Valley there are woodlands, meadows, ponds, lawns and rivers The historic grounds of Craig-y-nos Castle, once home to the internationally famous opera singer Adelina Patti, 
Adelina Patti
are spread on the banks of the River Tawe. There are Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman remains in the surrounding hills, and it is believed that the current castle sits on the same site once occupied in the early medieval period by the castle of the local Welsh Prince. The castle and the country park that occupy the site today date back to the Victorian era.
Castle can just be seen behind the trees

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