Talgarth woods and waterfalls
Water and wood on the edge of the Black Mountains
Talgarth is a Walkers are Welcome kind of town. It’s a great base. As well as sitting in the shadow of the Black Mountains it’s close to the central Brecon Beacons. This walk takes you up through woods to open common land directly beneath the soaring escarpment of the Black Mountains before heading back down via some legendary waterfalls.
Need to know
Length: 8 miles (13km)
Time: Around 4 hours
Start and finish: Main car park in Talgarth
OS map ref: SO 153337
OS map: Explorer OL13 (1:25 000 series)
Facilities: Tourist information, toilets, shops and places to eat in Talgarth
Along the way
Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Brycheiniog, this small, friendly riverside town is a well-placed hub for outdoor activities. St Gwendoline’s Church has a memorial to Hywel Harris, a remarkable man who led the Methodist Revival in Wales in 1735 (see separate entry). Talgarth’s old mill has been beautifully converted as part of a very successful community project (tours are available).
St Gwendoline’s Church
Gwendoline was one of the many offspring of King Brychan, the 5th-century ruler of Brycheiniog. This beautiful church may well date from the early Celtic-Christian times of the 6th century. The Preaching Cross in the churchyard was used by local man and charismatic religious leader Hywel Harris. He was a social and agricultural pioneer too, founding a Methodist community at nearby Trefeca that lived an almost self-sufficient, communal life. It’s reputed that 20,000 people attended his funeral at St Gwendoline’s in 1773.
Rhos Fawr Common
Rhos Fawr (‘Big Moor’) and neighbouring Rhos Fach (‘Little Moor’) are swathes of semi-enclosed common land used for grazing animals by adjoining farms that enjoy ‘common rights’. Historically, these areas were vital for the poorer people of the parish, who used them for grazing their house cows, poultry and sometimes pigs. Land like this is quite a common (forgive the pun), characteristic feature of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Black Mountains escarpment
You can’t miss it. It soars upwards in a dramatic north-facing wall from Talgarth along to Hay Bluff and the Wales/England border. It causes near-perfect flying conditions for gliders – you’ll often see them in the skies, having launched from the gliding club south of Talgarth.
Its name, meaning ‘The Witches’ Pool’, alludes to a dark legend surrounding its use as pool that put to the test those accused of witchcraft in medieval times to determine innocence or guilt. True or false, the atmosphere today is that of a bucolic beauty spot cloaked in ancient woodland. It’s a popular 43-acre (17.5ha) nature reserve where the river Ennig plunges down a band of rock into the legendary pool. Pwll-y-Wrach is rich in wildlife. Come here in spring for the wood anemones and bluebells, and see if you can catch the blue flash of a kingfisher or even the bark of an otter. There’s also a marked geology trail.