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The Vale of Neath is a spectacularly beautiful area on the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. It is often called ‘Waterfall Country’ with good reason – there are a series of dramatic waterfalls of varying size along the many tributaries of the River Neath in the deep, tree-lined gorges of the rivers Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Nedd Fechan. The shady, moist landscape is rich with mosses, liverworts and lichens that thrive in the high humidity offered by these woodlands and waterfalls.
The Elidir trail is a well-maintained path that follows the western bank of the picturesque Afon Nedd Fechan, passing several spectacular waterfalls, ancient woodland and abandon silica mines that once played a part in the Industrial Revolution. The trail retraces the footsteps of local lad Elidir who, legend has it, discovered a cave here that led to a secret fairy kingdom.
There are three waterfalls of particular interest on the Afon Nedd Fechan – Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (the 'upper gushing falls'), Sgwd Ddwli Isaf (the 'lower gushing falls') and Sgwd y Bedol (the 'horseshoe falls', which are in fact a series of three falls in quick succession) – as well as a number of other lesser cascades.
This picture is of one of the lesser cascades. I had a memory card full of the waterfalls, some of which had frozen after a very cold week, after spending a wintery day wandering along the Elidir trail so started to look at the smaller scenes on the return journey. I particularly liked how the water on this stretch of the river ‘danced’ as it burbled over the submerged rocks. The little icicles on the foreground rock are a reminder of how cold it was.
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