Pistyll Rhaeadr

Waterfalls are always one of my favourite place to visit. Such a dramatic and powerful force nestled within a remote and tranquil area, often with large basins of water at their base and foliage around which varies in colour and depth with the changing seasons. My favourite waterfall is Sgwd Gwladus in the Brecon Beacons, but I was very interested in seeing one of the tallest waterfalls in Wales. The waterfall at Pistyll Rhaeadr is outside of the Snowdonia National Park, and I decided to visit on Monday afternoon as it’s more or less on my route home. 

I followed the small roads from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnantto the car park near the bottom of the falls, where there is a café and picnic area. After a few miles of windy Welsh roads with occasional stops for passing cars, I rounded a bend and saw the waterfall ahead of me. Wow. A huge 240 foot column of water pouring over the sharp grey cliff face, and plummeting down into the valley below. The step hills and cliffs which surrounded it were adorn with trees, which varied in colour from green to orange, with every shade of yellow in between. It was a truly impressive scene and I’d love to visit again at the peak of autumn. I carried on and arrived at a layby on the left hand side, a short distance from the fall ahead. I parked up and put on my wellies, grabbed my bag and tripod out of the van, and set off along a leafy uphill path towards the sound of crashing water. 

The area at the bottom of the fall was beautiful; The water landed about 50 feet in front of me, and poured over large rocks and smaller waterfalls until it passed dramatically under a large bridge, made of steel and delicate in design. The path from this bridge led uphill towards the top of the waterfall, but I did not follow it. I stayed for some time on the rocks at the bottom, using a wide angle lens and a neutral density filter to try and capture the waterfall with the golden autumn leaves littered over the  surrounding rocks. The lighting was a little flat and uninspiring, so I left the bottom of the fall and walked back up the track, past the layby where I’d parked, and further on away from the waterfall for a while. 

My aim was to capture an image from a distance with a telephoto lens, showing the waterfall’s impressive height and the last remaining autumn colours in the trees around. I soon reached a gate on the left hand side, with a public right of way track heading up the side of the hill, leading roughly back towards the fall. I walked up this path for a few minutes until I had gained enough height that I was no longer looking up at the fall. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect spot, where I could see most of the waterfall but the surrounding car park and café were out of frame. I took several photos at different shutter speeds, to try and show the movement in the water without creating a milky blur. In the end I decided on 1/5th of a second, which maintains the texture of the water whilst showing the movement.

Happy at least, I began walking back down the hill and was met half way by the farmer who owned the land. We spoke for some time about the area and the waterfall, before I walked back to the van and began the long drive home.

As usual, I’d love to hear any comments or questions you have :) 

-Carl-