Visiting the waterfall at Aberdulais
The torrent of water running through the Dulais Valley has been the driving force for over 400 years of industrial innovation. Visit the picturesque surroundings at Aberdulais’s waterfall, a haven for wildlife and native plants and anyone keen to explore.
History of the waterfall at Aberdulais
The River Dulais rises below the slopes of Mynydd y Drum in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. The waterway flows down the Dulais, south-west through the villages of Seven Sisters and Crynant before cascading over the Aberdulais waterfall. Here it joins the River Neath close to the tidal reaches near Tonna.
An ice age beginning
The gorge in which the river and waterfall now lie was formed about 20,000 years ago. As a glacier further up the valley melted, the resulting melt water slowly cut its way down through the 300-million-year-old rock. This can be seen on the west side of the gorge today.
Sandstone and coal
The rock is Pennant sandstone, which is a severely compressed bed of sand. Beneath it is a layer of coal, that’s been gradually eroded by the flowing water, allowing the rock above to collapse and form the Falls as we see them today.
Originally the Falls were further south, but over the centuries, with continued erosion, they've been slowly cut back to their present location.
A wet weather spectacle
The Dulais is a flash flood river, which means it rises and falls very quickly. In wet weather, and in winter, when the river is in full spate, it's a truly awesome - and noisy - spectacle.
When it rains, the waterfall thunders. The awesome power of nature is all too apparent as gallons of water plunge over the rocks daily.
Wildlife to spot at Aberdulais
On quieter days, it becomes more benign, offering food and refreshment to the resident colony of Daubenton bats, not to mention a host of birds like Dippers, Wagtails and Herons.
As the water of the Dulais river continues to flow, so too is the tradition of using the waterfall as a source of power - driving Europe's largest generating waterwheel and creating green energy.
The waterwheel at Aberdulais generates green energy for the site as part of a ground-breaking hydro-electric scheme. A tradition dating back 400 years continues.
Discover how Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall has been at the heart of Welsh industry when a German engineer chose it as a secret location for smelting copper.