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Day 3: 8th July - Getting our steps in….literally!

(We still haven’t sorted out our website so no photos will be displayed on this blog…….so please refer to our ‘gowiththeflow’ facebook page to view our gorgeous photos…..)

‘Bore da’…….

Last night before we went to our beds we made a plan for today. We were going to head north to the Brecon Beacons to do the 4 Falls Walk (try and say that after a few alcoholic beverages) a 5.5 mile trail that wanders across a sleepy valley, then into dense woodland to uncover four glorious waterfalls. We had originally planned to go to the National Trust Aberdulais Falls but on further investigation we found it was closed for some essential maintenance so the 4 Falls Walk it was then. The weather forecast wasn’t looking too great and was predicting rain for the day. Thankfully we’d taken heed of the long-range weather forecast and packed our ‘kabooms’ in anticipation of a few downpours.

We all declared that we’d slept much better last night and woke up refreshed ready to take on what the day had in store for us. The weather forecasters were right. It had rained overnight and indeed it was still raining when we sat down to breakfast, indoors or course, but not to be deterred we kept to the original plan. Come rain or shine we were headed for the 4 Falls Walks. We donned our ‘kabooms’ aka our colourful rain jackets and packed up the car with our swimming attire you know, just in case we fancied a dip in one of the pools. Just before we set off Maice decided to go and ask the cleaner if she could have a nosey around the cottage next door, the occupants having left an hour earlier. The verdict was that our cottage was much nicer as it had a large kitchen/diner, a larger lounge, was light and airy and more spacious.

We finally departed, Maice sat in the front seat and although in charge of the road atlas, Satnav Marsha advised us to turn right out of the driveway, carry on up the very steep hill, down an extremely narrow lane then back up another hill. This didn’t bode well with any of us as it felt like we were going in the wrong direction so a quick regroup was required. We had a conflab, checked the road atlas and decided we were indeed going in the wrong direction so Abi carried out a six point turn in the very tight limited space and we retraced our ‘wheels’ past the cottage and followed the usual road down to Pontardawe. Apparently it was going to take us 40 minutes to drive to the 4 Falls Walk but after twenty minutes we pulled up with the ‘front seat drivers’ stating that we had ‘arrived at our destination’! Jane and I, us ‘back-street drivers’ were quick to dispute this fact so both SatNav Marsha and Maice were reprogrammed and we headed off again and twenty minutes later we had arrived at what we thought was the 4 Falls Walk carpark, which really was just a big field. Just to be sure we asked the carpark attendant if we were in the correct place and thankfully his reply was affirmative! He also gave us some guidelines about navigating our way around the walk, told us which was the easiest waterfall to reach, which was the most difficult and which had the most steps and advised us to take photos of the map on the information board. We did as we were told and then went in search of the cafe.

Being a fairly remote setting it wasn’t a cafe as such but a tiny shack on a farm serving refreshments and Welsh cakes. Jane ordered four coffees from the woman behind the counter who we think was the owner but halfway through making them she disappeared with a bundle of toilet rolls, headed towards the two portaloos and proceeded to hose them down inside……meanwhile Jane was left standing at the counter like she’d been stood up at the alter! Next thing the woman’s husband arrived and finished off the coffee order, then the woman came back and said ‘Oh, I forgot I was making those’! She obviously had a lot to contend with today as they were hosting a wedding and two tepee’s had been set up, the guests were starting to arrive and it had started to rain. So, whilst waiting for the coffees to be made Maice and Abi took it upon themselves to go for a nosey around the Tepees and ended up chatting to some of the wedding guests and the father of the bride! Honestly, what are they like!

After coffee we started the walk, following the map as much as we could however the numbers on the map didn’t seem to correspond with the numbers on the posts at the various points. We were confused! The car park guy told us we’d find it easy to navigate our way around but to be honest we weren’t sure which of the Falls we were at and where to go next. Seems we’d all mis-interpreted what he’d told us and we now had four different versions of his conversation and even though we referred to the map we were still none the wiser! If in doubt ask, so we ended up asking a quartet of young hikers who seemed to know where they were going and then we just followed the crowd!

All the four waterfalls have names but to be honest we didn’t have a clue which one was which so we’ve named them 1, 2 and 3….unfortunately we didn’t get to no.4 because by then we were all waterfalled out! Waterfall No.1 was by far the easiest to get to as you got to it along a flat meandering path and it was along here that we came across this mother, poor luv, on a day trip from Worcester with her two young boys (aged between 4 & 6) who had ‘demanded’ they bring their little tricycles with them. Of course they both decided they didn’t want to ride them up the hills only down the hills so mum ended up carrying the bikes around with her. Ah, boys and their toys!

We came to waterfall No.2 and wondered if this was the one where you have to walk down 180 steps. We ventured forth, down a very steep rocky, narrow, muddy and slippy slope made worse because it had started to rain again. You really had to pick your way slowly down the slope but not only was it a busy ‘thoroughfare’ Maice found herself negotiating the treacherous terrain with Winston trying to rush ahead and her being tailgated by some impatient people behind her. We eventually arrived unscathed at the waterfalls and watched a number of people jumping from the ledge into the pool below. It would have been nice to join in but the thought of changing into our swim wear in the rain put us right off so instead we took shelter under a tree and enjoyed a snacklet, took a few photos and began the ascent. It was hard going and a real strain on the legs and we were slipping and sliding in the mud but we eventually made it to the top and followed the crowd to waterfall No.3.

Seems No.3 is the waterfall with the 180 steps but at least they were proper steps so we went with the flow of people and made our way down. We expected it to be easy going but in some place the steps were 18 inches high, the handrail didn’t go all the way down and it turned out to be just as treacherous to walk down as No.2! We expected to see a lovely waterfall in a beautiful setting which it was, it was just so busy with people milling everywhere. You can walk behind the waterfall but to get to it meant stepping over the wet stones in the stream to get there. Oh well, we’d come this far so me and Abigail took up the challenge and very gingerly made our way across to the falls. Fortunately we didn’t suffer any mishaps but it was a bit scary as it was so slippy underfoot. We eventually made our way back up the 180 steps, again it was hard work, our knees and legs were really feeling the strain and when we reached the top we found a bench and had a regroup. It was a unanimous decision…..we didn’t have the energy nor the inclination to walk to waterfall No.4 so made our way back to the carpark. By this time we were needing a wee but of course there were no toilets around these parts, only bushes! The only problem was people. They were everywhere. Would we find a spot where we could have a wee without being spotted with our bare bums in the air! The answer was yes. With two of us on lookout duties we took it in turns to relieve ourselves and what a lovely feeling it was too. Feeling much better we continued our walk back and came across a stream where we stopped and all went for a paddle, Winston included. Abi even went in for a dip. She’d surreptitiously changed into her costume whilst people were walking over the bridge and stopping to admire the view. Of the stream that is, not Abi getting changed!

During the car journey back to the cottage we all agreed that the 4 Falls Walk was a lovely walk but would recommend people to avoid coming at the weekend when it’s super busy. We’d been so lucky with the weather too for the majority of the day it had been warm and sunny. By now we’d worked up an appetite and when someone mentioned there were sausages in the fridge we had no choice but to stop off at Lidl to purchase some potatoes, onions and gravy. By the time we arrived home we were salivating, looking forward to our bangers and mash, fried onions and gravy and of course an alcoholic beverage of some description. How delicious.

During supper we discussed the itinerary for the following day. The weather forecast wasn’t looking good but then it wasn’t supposed to be good today and despite some rain it turned out to be rather lovely. We felt we needed some culture, you know, a stately home or a castle and maybe a visit to a town or city. We had a few ideas but we’d make the decision in the morning……

On that note, four very tired ladies and a very tired Sir Winston retired to their beds hoping for another good nights sleep. Nos da……..!

SW, J, M, A & A xxxxx

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