13.4 km (8.3 mi), of which 4.5 km are on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 270m. For alternative start points, resulting in a shorter or a longer walk, see below Walk options.
Craig y Nos Bus Stop Bus Stop is on line T6 (Swansea - Neath - Ystradgynlais – Brecon), with 11 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays, with a journey time of 40 mins from Neath (and 37 mins from Brecon). The journey time by train from London to Neath is from 2 ¾ hours.
There is a pay-and-display car park at the Country Park (£2.50 fee) but also some free spaces along the A4067.
Saturday Walkers’ Club: This walk is not recommended as a daywalk from London, but if based in the area for a longer stay. Accommodation is available in Craig y Nos, nearby in Glyntawe or Pen y Cae, and further along the bus line in Ystradgynlais, Sennybridge or Brecon.
From the Craig y Nos Country Park, an idyllic spot on the banks of the Afon Tawe (River Tawe) with its Victorian Gothic building (now a hotel), which was home to the world renowned opera singer Adelina Patti from 1878 to 1919, the route follows quiet bridleways and country lanes with excellent views across the valley to the Cribarth mountain, to a steep cliff edge above the Tawe River which it then follows for an extended stretch, with the river running below in rapids.
You leave the Tawe to walk up a spectacular wooded ravine, formed by the Nant Llech. The river’s name (‘Rock Slab Stream’ in English) derives from the rock strata that tilt or dip to create small waterfalls along its course, some of which can be observed from close quarters. The wooded gorge is an Ancient Woodland, meaning many of the trees (especially on the southern bank) have never been felled, providing for spectacular displays of bluebells in season. It is also a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) for its humid habitat, supporting a wide range of damp-loving species.
You ascend through the scenic gorge to a natural amphitheatre, carved out over millennia by the highest waterfall in South Wales, the Sgwd Henrhyd (Henrhyd Waterfall), dropping down a rocky ledge forming a water curtain you can walk and picnic behind.
From there country lanes and paths across pastures get you a prized lunch pub in Pen y Cae and then back along the bridleways and lanes of the outward route to finish with a riverside loop through the Craig y Nos Country Park to its tea rooms.
A variation of the start leads over the limestome Cribarth Plateau with its shakeholes and far views.
A triangular section along cliffs above the Tawe River, up the Nant Llech valley to the Henrhyd Falls and back through fields and lanes is the core of this walk, with lunch pub and tea stop, if ending at Craig y Nos.
Alternative Start Points are described; these are:
- further north in Glyntawe, for a slightly longer and tougher walk (14.3 km/8.9 mi, 4/10 rating);
- further south in Pen y Cae or Ynyswen, for a much shorter walk (from 6.8 km/4.2 mi, 1/10 rating).
These points are linked to the start by the T6 bus line and can also be Alternative Finish Points.
A variation of the start leads over the Cribarth Plateau; this adds about 300m ascent (6/10).
|Lunch and Tea
In Pen y Cae
Pen y Cae Inn (Restaurant & Gallery) Brecon Road, Pen y Cae, Swansea Valley, Powys, SA9 1FA (01639 730 100). The Pen y Cae Inn is located 10.5 km/6.4 mi into the walk and one of the best gastro pubs in Wales (Voted “Best” in 2015 in fact) and also offers accommodation. Open for lunch Tue-Sun.
Ancient Britain Brecon Road, Pen y Cae, Swansea, Wales, UK SA9 1YY (01639 730 273).
Abercrave Inn 145 Heol Tawe, Abercrave, Swansea Valley, SA9 1XS (01639 731 002).
In Craig y Nos
Changing Seasons Tea Rooms & Restaurant Craig y Nos Country Park, Brecon Road, Pen y Cae, Swansea, SA9 1GL (01639 731 498). Open daily 10.00- 18.00 (-22.30 Fri-Sat), serving quality, local seasonal food and drink.
Tafarn y Garreg A 4067, Glyntawe, Swansea, Powys, SA9 1GS (01639 731 415). The Tafarn y Garreg had been shut for several years but re-opened in summer 2015. Open 12.00-23.00 Tue-Fri, 12.00-23.00 Sat and 12.00-18.00 Sun. Food served 12.00-20.00 Tue-Fri and 12.00-21.00 Sat-Sun.
The Gwyn Arms A 4067, Glyntawe, Swansea, Powys, SA9 1GP (01639 730 310).
A roadside pub in a picturesque valley with a large garden, offering good value pub food every day.
Open 11.00-late daily. Food served 12.00-20.00 Mon-Sat and 12.00-16.00 Sun.