Forestry Commission Wales and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority announced that Wales’ most popular waterfall, Sgwd-yr-Eira has been reopened to the public in time for the school holidays.
For centuries, Sgwd-yr-Eira located in ‘waterfall country’ near Ystradfellte has captured the hearts of thousands of visitors who’ve been able to walk the path behind the waterfall. However, the path was closed for nearly 18 months after an investigation found loose overhanging rock posed a serious risk to public safety. Specialist contractors have now been appointed to carefully de-scale the cliff faces either side of the waterfall in order to make the site safe for reopening in late July.
During its closure, the Forestry Commission Wales, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) undertook various detailed assessments in order to determine if the rock clearance work would have an adverse effect on the plant communities for which it is internationally designated.
Dai Jones, Forestry District Manager for FC Wales said: “We are delighted to be able to announce that remedial work is due to begin at this site, which will result in the waterfall opening in time for the school holidays. We have all gone to great lengths to ensure that the particularly fragile nature of this site will not be unnecessarily affected by our intervention.
“Now the work is complete we will continue to monitor the safety of the cliff face and the site will remain open provided we are satisfied that there is absolutely no risk to public safety. By working in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and CCW we have been able to successfully balance the enjoyment of the public and the continued protection of one of Wales’ top beauty spots.”
Chris Gledhill, Chief Executive for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “Sgwd-yr-Eira is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations in the National Park drawing in nearly 160,000 visitors every year. Even though it is only one of many waterfalls in this area, the sheer fact that you can walk behind it makes it, by far, the most popular. We have always maintained that we would like to re-open the site as soon as possible and are delighted that our visitors can experience this natural wonder in time for the school holidays.”
Stuart Reid, BBNPA Team Leader for CCW said: “We are very pleased the path will soon be re-opened. The waterfalls and woodlands in this area are beautiful and we want the public to experience and appreciate their natural beauty.
“The area is designated nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and internationally as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). FC Wales’ surveys and assessment show some damage will occur to special vegetation as a result of the works. However, we are satisfied it would not be at a level that would adversely affect the area’s internationally important wildlife and that we have found the right balance between recreation and conservation.”
Pictures: Copyright of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
NOTES TO EDITORS
• FC Wales manages the woodland where Sgwd-yr-Eira is located; CCW advises the Welsh Assembly on environmental matters and was involved because of the importance of the area for nature conservation; and as Sgwd-yr-Eira is located within the Brecon Beacons National Park and the fact we were dealing with a public right of way, meant that the BBNPA is the highways authority for the area.
• For years the cliff-face has been subject to localised water seepage, coupled with the action of weathering, freeze-thaw action and root penetration which have all contributed to the instability of the area, posing a real danger of rock fall.
• Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government's department responsible for forestry policy and looks after the 320,000 acres (130,000ha) of public forests owned by the Assembly. More information is available at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/fchomepages.nsf/hp/Wales
• The Countryside Council for Wales is an Assembly Government Sponsored Body, working for a better Wales where everyone values and cares for our natural environment. More information about our work is available on www.ccw.gov.uk
• Brecon Beacons National Park is a landscape that offers a legacy of unparalleled proportions with spectacular mountain ranges, internationally renowned geology, bountiful wildlife and diverse recreational opportunities. It contains some of the most spectacular and distinctive upland formations in southern Britain and covers an area of 1347 sq km (520 sq miles). For more information please visit www.breconbeacons.org
For further press information please contact:
Forestry Commission Wales Information Officer, Forestry Commission Wales
Telephone: 0845 6040845
PR and Events Officer, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
Telephone: 01874 620 420