Hiking in the Brecon Beacons offers such diversity in terms of the landscape that is available to be explored, and yesterday, we visited what is known as Waterfall Country, in search of Bruce Wayne’s legendary Batcave.
The Batcave hides behind the tallest waterfall in South Wales (at 90 feet), in the county of Powys. The location was used in the last scene of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises, and the hiking trail was developed by the National Trust quite recently, as the area’s newfound fame attracted new visitors along the previously treacherous gorge.
The hike’s trailhead starts at the National Trust car park just outside the village of Coelbren (grid reference SN853121). Here, you descend a steep path into the valley, at the end of which you are faced with two routes. To head straight over to the falls, take the left option, and ascend a series of wooden steps to view the spectacular “Sgwd” (Welsh for waterfall). It only takes a few minutes to arrive at the idyllic spot, and it is a great place to have a picnic to admire the view. At this time of year, there was very little water flowing over the precipice, but earlier in the year, and during flood season, the flow is said to be quite spectacular. You can even walk behind the falls, and look out of the Batcave into the valley. The path is a little slippery and wet!
If you have time, then head back to the earlier junction, and take the path heading to the right. This is the longest section of the hike. Most visitors only go as far as the Batcave, but you really should keep going and experience the entire walk.
This footpath follows Nant Llech and the path traverses along the valley walls. The hike takes about 3 hours if you factor in time to immerse yourself in the wonderful surroundings.
There are a number of smaller, and just as beautiful waterfalls along the way, the first of which is Henrhyd small fall. There are some gorgeous rock formations visible as you follow the stream, and plenty of wildlife to admire, including butterflies, and hummingbird bees.
At the end of the trail, you come to the River Tawe, and this is where the path ends, and the spot where you start retracing your steps back towards the car park. The out and back trip is about 3.5 miles (6k), but if you want to extend your trip a little further, then you can follow an alternative path towards the Monkey Sanctuary at Abercrave. Entrance fees are 6.50GBP for adults and they have many primates and monkeys, including, chimpanzees, snow monkeys, limas and marmosets. You can also buy refreshments here (including Joe’s ice-creme) before you head back to the trailhead.
On our way back, we decided to stop by the Batcave again to see how it looked in the afternoon, rather than late morning sunlight – we were not disappointed, and the falls sparkled with the full range of the spectrum.
A beautiful hike with a movie flavour thrown in for good measure. Certainly recommended!