Why is the number Seven so significant? Seven days of the week, Seven deadly sins, Seven virtues, Seven Heavens, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (eh?!…) Well OK, you probably get the picture….
In Wales it is said that there are Seven Wonders, listed as –
“Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple, Snowdon’s mountain without its people,
Overton yew trees, St Winefride’s well, Llangollen bridge and Gresford bells.”
A couple of years back we took a look at number one on the list, the waterfall of Pistyll Rhaeadr.
Pistyll Rhaeadr is a magnificent waterfall, well worth a visit. Yet for one of the ‘Seven Wonders’ it gets surprisingly little attention from visitors. The waterfall is at the end of 6 kilometres of very narrow lane, approached from the village of Llanrhaeadr which itself seems to be miles from anywhere. If hordes of tourists turned up, you just wouldn’t be able to move, so perhaps that’s why it doesn’t seem to be aggressively marketed as an attraction.
Of course, it’s impossible to resist a close up view of a waterfall. It isn’t, as sometimes suggested, the highest waterfall in Wales, though with a total drop of 73 metres (240 ft) it’s higher than Niagara Falls! The drop itself is interrupted, with the longest free fall about 40 metres, but it’s still impressive close up. In a severe winter it would make a magnificent ice-climb, but don’t hang around too long waiting for it to freeze!
Having seen the falls, a visit to the top is equally irresistible as well as being surprising. The narrow, confined valley suddenly opens up into moorland, with wide expansive views to the Berwyns, one of the forgotten ranges of hills in Wales The highest of the Berwyn hills were less than 3 kilometres away from our route, but they didn’t seem all that high. A look at the map corrected that view – at 827 metres (2713 ft) they were higher than anything in the Yorkshire Dales or Peak District.
Sometimes a walk is memorable for the views, or for the difficulty of the route. Other times, as on this occasion, it’s because of people you meet. We met ‘Rick’ (as I shall call him) the night before, where it became obvious that his ‘smoking’ habits were, let’s say, ‘exotic’. While Chris and I had enjoyed a (legal) dram of single malt, ‘Rick’ enjoyed a more ‘weedy’ substance. He joined us the next morning for the walk, and interrupted things half way round when he said, ”I’ll have to go back – I’ve dropped me stash”. We sat and enjoyed the sun while ‘Rick’ recovered his weed!
I like ‘characters’, and ‘Rick’ kept us amused all the way round the walk. The hills too were full of character, and surprisingly quiet. We left vowing to return, to get to know these deserted Berwyn Hills better.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock