Pistyll Rhaeadr - a towering wonder

By Dan | Feb 27th, 2022 - 8:29pm

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At a glance

Key stats

Difficulty icon Difficulty: Intermediate
Distance icon Distance: 0.8 miles
Route icon Show Route

This is a point-to-point route, so the distance assumes you will retrace your footsteps

Brief Overview

Smoothish farmer's track with a short section of rough uphill climb if you choose to follow the route above. Uneven stone and muddy terrain around the river and top of the waterfall. Farmer's track is easier but extends walk to roughly 1.2-miles.

Navigation

Navigate to: Pistyll Rhaeadr, Oswestry, SY10 0BZ
Latitude/Longitude: 52.85504605232744, -3.3766788018453004
what3words: soaks.backtrack.drank

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Difficulty

Difficulty Icon

A rough estimate of difficulty, this does not factor in distance and is only based on the conditions of the route followed. A 20 mile walk on paved roads will be marked as beginner, whereas a 1 mile scramble up a mountain will be Advanced/Expert. Please consider both distance and difficulty when choosing a walk.

Beginner

Clearly marked routes that are easy going with smooth surfaces, little to no inclines or declines. Should be accessible to all.

Intermediate

May include some minor sections of uphill or downhill that could be a little challenging. Some surfaces may be loose or otherwise be difficult to pass. The vast majority of people should be able to tackle this walk, but good hiking shoes are absolutely recommended.

Advanced

Walks may be almost completely comprised of difficult terrain, be it up/downhill or difficult surfaces that are slippery or muddy. Some may struggle on this walk, hiking shoes and possibly hiking sticks are a must.

Expert

A very difficult walk, may require scrambling or climbing in parts. Appropriate preparation should be made before attempting these walks, as they may require additional equipment. These are very much for experienced walkers only and it may be worth having a guide who knows the area with you.


Length

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A rounded estimation for the distance of the route shown, remember to factor in the return journey! Obviously, circular routes will end with you where you started, but any point-to-point walks have been doubled assuming you are going to retrace your footsteps. If the articles includes any suggestions for extra walks they will not be included in this value.


Route

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The map displays a downloadable .GPX file that can be used in Satellite Navigation devices or apps. Walks shown will typically be the simplest route described in the article. Routes are for reference only, always remain on paths and be aware of your surroundings.


Navigation

We offer links to either copy or navigate to the destination, the navigate link should work on most modern platforms (If all else fails you can manually copy the text above the buttons!). It is recommended you use Latitude/Longitude rather than address whenever possible as it will be much more accurate and consistent across different navigation tools, but we understand that sometimes address is the only supported option so we include that too where applicable. Unfortunately, if your destination is in the middle of the countryside you may struggle to navigate by address.



Features

Toilets Toilets
Charges may apply
Parking available nearby Parking available nearby
Charges may apply
Food & drink available Food & drink available
Dogs welcome Dogs welcome
Limited opening times Limited opening times
Applies to main Cark Park

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Thanks to the plethora of amazing spots dotted around Wales, sometimes I end up feeling like there is so much great stuff to see that it is hard to recommend any one thing over anything else. I do, however, have a couple of places that I consider the 'must-see spots', and Pistyll Rhaeadr is unquestionably one of them. Nothing can top the feeling of awe you feel when you round the final corner on the approach road and see this colossal natural beauty over the tree-tops, it is a memory imprinted in my brain forever and one that keeps me returning time after time. It is such a wonder that I'm willing to overlook something that stops me from recommending other spots: the approach road...

There is a single approach road to Pistyll Rhaeadr that can be found in the town of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, the town has no major A-roads through it but the B-roads are mostly easy going with a few sections that while lacking a centre dividing line should be fine for most drivers. The approach road on the other hand is a true country lane - properly narrow with intermittent passing places and the kind of place that I would enjoy if it was anywhere else. This 3.9-mile lane will likely take you 20-30 minutes to navigate if you are doing it with the appropriate level of caution, thanks to its huge amount of blind corners, dips and stretches with no obvious passing point, and you will need to do that as the main issue here is an unfortunately common one: other drivers. This is already a popular attraction so you are likely going to have to navigate around a handful of other drivers even on the quiet times, but the near misses with the occasional driver who does not belong on a country lane, the kind who think that because the national speed limit applies it means they should be aiming as close to 60 as they can, are an unfortunate inevitability of a tourist hotspot. None of this should be a deal-breaker, just something to mentally prepare for before your visit - I've actually not bothered discussing several places on Love Our Adventures because the journey there was simply not worth the end result, but this waterfall is absolutely worth any hardship encountered en route. That being said, I wouldn't bother at peak summer and during school holidays as this lane can actually gridlock with multiple cars trying to squeeze through single car passing points. Parking is available at the foot of the waterfall that is paid, there is a sizeable layby that can be parked in for free but please try to avoid parking along the lane's sides as this can exacerbate the traffic problem at peak times.

If you don't mind the near 8-mile round trip you could consider parking at the car park in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and walking to the falls instead; with places like this I would recommend parking up somewhere nearby and walking the final mile, but Pistyll Rhaeadr has only one road in and out and any other walking route would require crossing a good distance over the local hills to get here. Public transportation links are limited but there, with connections to Welshpool and Oswestry arriving at the town so these will also require walking the lane.

The view of the falls from near the bridge



With the journey sorted, let us look forward to the main attraction - for me, it cannot be overstated how much of an impression Pistyll Rhaeadr left on me all those years ago. The falls were one of the first places I ever visited alone and I remember reaching the end of that lane and being utterly gobsmacked by the sheer scale of the falls. I have since returned several times and recommended others go here on many occasions, it is just that spectacular. If you parked at the lay by you will have a short walk up the lane to the main car park which practically sits at the foot of the falls. The car park has some toilets as well as the café which is also a bed & breakfast, plus the incredible wood carving near the car park worth checking out, but I'm sure you're hardly concerned with those relative to the falls now towering above you. The paths around the falls vary between loose stone, mud and slick rocks but you can get a great view of the falls from the little footbridge which should be reasonably accessible. The sheer size of Pistyll Rhaeadr really becomes apparent when you head down and can feel the spray from almost every viewpoint, refreshing if a bit bracing on a winter's day! If you are really lucky and arrive when the water level is low enough then you can really get up close and personal to the falls...

Standing at the plunge pool edge

If you are looking for an extended walk then you have the option to scale the hillside to see the falls from the top. I'll be the first to admit I don't often do the walk to the top, but it is an option should you want a walk here - for me, the problem with climbing to the top of Pistyll Rhaeadr is that you can no longer see Pistyll Rhaeadr! There are some nice views up the valley and a few little spots to explore at the top, but typically I visit the waterfall to enjoy the views at the bottom and then continue on to the nearby Lake Vyrnwy, and its beautiful waterfalls walk, when I want to do some walking. That being said, the walk up the side is a reasonable route that isn't too long so if you are already in the area then there is no reason not to do it. The trail breaks away from the café area up the hillside via a few gates and snakes its way through the woodlands before breaking out onto the hillside via a rough narrow track. If you want a longer but easier route you can follow the wider farmers track, the rough track up the hillside simply cuts the corner and rejoins the track after a short zig-zag path. From there you will pass over a style and rejoin the woodlands before descending a short rough section that will bring you to the Afon Disgynfa, now you are only a short walk downstream from the waterfall top. There are a handful of smaller cascades and beauty spots to explore on the top and in several places you may be able to cross the river, although bear in mind that you will need to cross back to get down as there isn't a safe way down on the other side. The return route is as simple as retracing your footsteps, and as an added bonus if you wish to check out the walk before you go the entire thing has been mapped on street view here.

There is a reason why Pistyll Rhaeadr always makes its way onto the '7 wonders of Wales/Snowdonia' list and it will become apparent the first time you take a trip here. There are so many places that I will return to a couple of times before I feel like I've seen all I need to see, but Pistyll Rhaeadr will never reach that point because I feel it will never not impress me to stand on that little bridge and feel the spray from one of the tallest single-drop waterfalls in the country. I think this one will impress almost anyone, even those who are well versed with the United Kingdom's beauty will find Pistyll Rhaeadr a memorable stop-off well worth a look in.

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