Woke up on this Sunday morning, it was a grey start to the day but the weather forecast said it would brighten p. Checked the lottery, no win today. We all fancied a trip into the wild so we packed up the car. Nanny, Pops, Owen, Me Laura, Jake, Rudi, Finn and Ned the dog were ready to go so we headed off to the hills in a two car convoy.
We drove up the Neath valley over past Banwen and through Glyntawe past Dan Yr Ogoth Caves and then took a left on the old mountain road to Trescastle. The scenery as we drove through the valley was amazing as the mountains loomed up on either side of us. Halfway up to the left we could see a waterfall and decided to park up and check it out. We all wobbled across the baby Tawe river and just about managed to keep our toes dry and set off following a tributary up the mountainside. The mossy ground was covered with big hairy caterpillars so we trod carefully. The hill was pretty steep and the water in the stream fell over countless waterfalls as we walked. The plunge pools were quite small and although it was a warm autumn day, they did not entice us in.
When we got to the top of the incline we sat down to take in the view. The mountain on the other side of the valley was covered in deep scars carved out of its surface b the merciless streams over the centuries. The sky was now blue and we felt like we were on top of the world.
We decided that the best place for a swim would be back down at the main watercourse, adjacent to the road, as i contained the collective water of the hundreds of streams. We walked back down the hill, the kids (and dog) ran and were at the bottom before we were halfway down.
We grabbed the picnic and kit from the car and walked downstream and settled on a nice grassy riverside spot. This was at the point where the river runs over a massive flat slab of limestone rock that lies at a 40 degree angle, creating a natural water slide. Jake had his wetsuit on before we even sat down and quickly slid down the slick algae surface laughing all the way until he span into the ice pool at the bottom. That looked fun and it wasn't long before me, Owen, Rudi and Finn were wet suited and jumping into the water. Rudi and Finn played with their boats in the shallower water. The laughter took the edge of the cold water.
We moved upstream diving down into the crystal clear deeper pools and sitting in the natural jacuzzi under the little waterfalls.
Me and O headed off downstream on a mission and found a good few pools, one in particular was at the top of a long cascade down into a gorge. It was like an infinity pool, with attitude. If you could overpower the force of the river you could reach the falls at the back of it and sit behind the watery curtain. The water was so clear, diving down into the bubbles was an experience that wont be forgotten.
Back at base camp we got changed and fired up the cooker. Chili dogs and Chili steak all round. We didn't realise how hungry we were, no-one spoke until all the food was gone.
We packed up and jumped back in the cars. We headed off through some sketchy country lanes to explore.Owen was in front and seeing a sign for "waterfalls" he followed it. We eventually came to a car park at Henrhyd falls, the tallest falls in South Wales at just over 90ft.
We trekked down a steep foot way to the base of the heavily wooded gorge and followed our ears along the path to the sound of falling water. The falls were impressive as was their setting in a lush, green, ferny, misty valley. Rays of the sun broke through to the dark beery water.
I got change and waded in over the hundreds of rounded pebbles, the pool was shallow in places but still swimable. Sitting under the falling water brought a new meaning to the word "power shower", i had to put my hands over my ears because it felt like the water would tear them off. I dived down into the dark water chasing small brown trout around, wondering how they got here. Owen wasn't going to come in but he couldnt resist and went for a swim in his boxers, slowly shivering his way around the pool.
We got out, dried off and changed just as a horde of photographers arrived. The walk back to the car up the gorge was intensely steep. We stopped off at the Angel Inn in Pont Nedd Fechan for a pint on the way home. Magners for the men, diet coke for the kids and beer shandy's for the women (cheers dad). Rudi bought some pin badges from the bar for his foragers hat, an otter and a frog.
Nedd the dog won the prize for the most tiredest after the days adventures.