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Devil's Bridge

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Map ReferenceSN77NW
Grid ReferenceSN7371976896
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCeredigion
Old CountyCardiganshire
This small village with its picturesque waterfall takes its name from the bottom-most of three bridges over the river Mynach which were incrementally built on top of each other. Local legend has it that the Devil built this bridge in a single night, having entered into a bet with an old woman whose valuable cow was stranded on the opposite bank of the river. As payment for the return of her animal, she had to promise the Devil the first living soul to cross the bridge. However, the woman tricked him by throwing a loaf of bread over the bridge, allowing her dog run after it. The Devil was so ashamed that he never showed his face again ? or so the story goes.

This first bridge, small and stone built, is almost certainly medieval in date, possibly built by the monks of the nearby Cistercian monastery, Strata Florida. The second bridge was built over this in 1753, altered with iron parapets in 1814. The third and final one followed in 1901, being a metal lattice bridge which carries the modern road. Each time, the road was widened, levelled out and improved, thus reflecting the gradual improvement of infrastructure in Ceredigion over the course of the past centuries.

Historically, the bridge lay on the main road between Llangurig and Aberystwyth, thus giving tourists prime access to the waterfalls and famous `Devil's Punchbowl?. Tourists looking for picturesque Welsh landscapes flocked here in increasing numbers towards the end of the eighteenth century. As a result, the owner of the surrounding land, Thomas Johnes, built a hunting lodge by the roadside in 1787. In 1839, the lodge was converted by its new owner, Sir Henry Houghton, and reopened as the Hafod Arms Hotel, named after the nearby estate, Hafod Uchdryd.

A few years after the hotel opened its doors, Carl Carus and Friedrich August II, King of Saxony, stopped here during their rain-soaked coach journey from Brecon to Aberystwyth. Having dried their travel-weary bones by the side of a roaring fire in the lounge, they set out and explored the picturesque chasm below the bridges. Today, tourists need no longer rely on shaking and wet post coaches. Instead, they can enjoy a ride to the bridges and waterfall on the narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway from Aberystwyth which opened in 1902.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.