Pistyll Rhaeadr – Fantastic Welsh Waterfall

With a rare day of sunny weather in Shropshire I took the opportunity to visit a place I’ve been to on a few occasions and I’ve thought I’d share a few images of today’s trip, plus those of the past.

Pistyll Rhaeadr (I confess to not knowing how to pronounce this properly as my Welsh is rather poor) is a wonderful, yet little known waterfall in north-east Wales, about 10 miles west of Oswestry.  Apparently it is the highest single dropping waterfall in Wales, and though it is no Niagara the area is a beautiful place to walk and you can get both underneath and to the top of the falls.

DSCF4344The main waterfall has two drops; the higher set dropping into a deep plunge pool, which sadly is accessible due to the sheer drop to get to it.  If you’re feeling brave you can take a path to the left of the falls.  TAKE EXTRA CARE WHEN WALKING AROUND THE FALLS, SOME OF THE PATHS ARE NARROW, THE ROCKS CAN BE WET AND THE DROP…WELL YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO THINK OF YOU’RE LIFE BEFORE HITTING THE BOTTOM, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.  Now that the boring warning is given…

Location & Access: The falls are easy to access, though you might take a bit of time finding them on a map.  They are located at around 52*51′ N, 3*22′ W.  The only way to reach them by road is to travel to the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant on the B4580 and then take the narrow road (with passing places) you to the falls.  The road ends at the falls so you can’t miss it.


There is a cafe and a carpark (£2 charge for the day) at the base of the falls, though a few hundred metres down the road there are a few places that you can park for free.  There are also toilet facilities on site.  Access to the base of the falls is good; there is a wide path with a gentle incline that should be no problem for most visitors.  This leads to a bridge over the stream that gives you a good view of the falls.  If you want to get to the top of the falls there is a path to the right, over some stiles and a steep walk up to the top of the hill.  This may be difficult for people with restricted mobility.

River Features: Pistyll Rhaeadr has many of the classic features you’d expect at a waterfall and an upland stream.  There are a series of plunge pools at the base of the falls.  Just watch out as you walk over the wet rocks…I couldn’t sit down properly for 6 weeks after I fell over whilst crossing here once.  You can see potholes and the eroding river bed.



At the top of the falls you get a great view of the valley, a remnant of the time when glaciers once carved out the landscapes.  The steep sided valley displays evidence of hanging valleys as well as the remains of glacial debris, though now heavily farmed over and not as evident as other parts of Wales.  The geology of the surrounding hills is that of the Llangynog Formation – a series of mudstones with a band of tuff approximately 457-459 million years old (Ordovician period).


One of the more unique features is that above the half-way plunge pull is a section of fallen & eroded rock that forms a ‘bridge’ across the stream before the water falls over again.  Sadly you can’t reach it, just admire it from afar.

DSCF4345The whole site is a fantastic place to spend a few hours if you’re ever near Oswestry.  The hills are beautiful and the falls are some of the best in region.


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