A FREE park and ride service for visitors to one of the most stunning beauty spots in Powys will hopefully alleviate the constant issue of illegal parking and aid rescue teams operating in the area.

There are constant issues at sites in ‘Waterfall Country’, especially in recent months as Wales has started to open up again after various coronavirus-enforced lockdowns and with Mid Wales at the height of the summer tourist season.

Waterfall Country includes a plethora of falls on the Nedd Fechan, Pyrddin, Hepste and Mellte rivers, all of which lie between the villages of Pontneddfechan and Ystradfellte at the foot of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) posts messages weekly regarding inconsiderate or illegal parking at its various sites, including throughout Waterfall Country, while mountain rescue teams who work in the national park have also reported issues.

However, a new initiative started last weekend, whereby visitors to popular spots such as Sgwd yr Eira will now be offered a free park and ride service between the town of Glynneath and Pontneddfechan. The service will run on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays.

The scheme is being jointly operated by Neath Port Talbot Council, the BBNPA, Powys County Council and local transport operator South Wales Transport, with the aim of easing parking pressures on the local community within Waterfall Country.

As recently as Wednesday (July 21) the Brecon Beacons National Park posted on its Facebook page: “A reminder to everyone who plans to visit Waterfall Country to please park responsibly in the designated areas only.” The post was accompanied by a picture of a parking ticket being placed on a vehicle by a park warden.

Last weekend they posted: “Waterfall Country continues to be busy at weekends and car parks are normally full by mid-morning.

“Please check our car park page before visiting to see if there are spaces available. Have a back-up plan in place and please don't park dangerously or illegally.”

Commenting on the park and ride service earlier this week, the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team said: “There have been some photos and video circulating the last couple of days on social media showing some questionable parking in and around Waterfall Country.

“This is one of our busiest areas for rescues. Not only does it affect local farmers and residents, it also delays us when responding to a 999 call to the waterfalls area, which could cost someone their life.

“Luckily a new park and ride service has been set up to help transport visitors to the waterfalls. Please consider utilising the service.”

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Visitors are able to catch the free service from the Lancaster Close Car Park in Glynneath town centre and via designated bus stops between Glynneath and the Village Hall in Pontneddfechan.

Well behaved dogs on a lead are also welcome to use the bus service.

The service will operate on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays only until September 5.

The bus service departs every 30 minutes from Lancaster Close Car Park between the hours of 9.30am-12.30pm and 2-4.30pm.

The last return journey to Lancaster Close Car Park from Pontneddfechan is at 4.47pm. The last pick-up of the day may be in high demand, please plan ahead and a catch an earlier bus to ensure availability.

In situations where the main Lancaster Close Car Park is full, please utilise other free car parks within Glynneath and join the service to Pontneddfechan from the Co-operative supermarket bus stop.

Sgwd yr Eira (‘falls of snow’) is famous for being the falls behind which you can walk, located on the Afon Hepste. Sgwd Clun-gwyn (‘fall of the white meadow’) is the uppermost of the three celebrated falls on the Mellte; Sgwd y Bedol (‘horseshoe falls’) is in fact a series of three or four falls in quick succession on the need Fechan; while Sgwd Einion Gam (‘fall of crooked Einion’) on the Pryddin is one of the most spectacular though least accessible of the falls of the area.