Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion

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Devil's Bridge and the Hafod Arms Hotel before the construction of the third bridge, c.1860
A view from the Devil's Bridge, 1781
The three bridges, looking downstream
Hafod Arms Hotel, built by Thomas Johnes

Devil's Bridge (Welsh: Pontarfynach, lit. "The bridge on the Mynach") is a village in Ceredigion, Wales. Above the River Mynach on the edge of the village is the unusual road bridge from which the village gets its English name.

The village is on the A4120 road, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Aberystwyth.

The population of Pontarfynach community at the 2011 census was 455.[1]


The village is best known for the bridge spanning the Afon Mynach, a tributary of the Rheidol. The bridge is unusual in that three separate bridges are coexistent, each one built upon the previous bridge. The most recently built is an iron bridge (1901), which was built over a stone bridge (1753), which was built when the original bridge was thought to be unstable. The builders of the 1753 bridge used the original bridge (built 1075–1200) to support scaffolding during construction.

The bridge is at a point where the River Mynach drops 90 metres (300 ft) in five steps[2] down a steep and narrow ravine before it meets the River Rheidol.[3] The set of stone steps leading down to the lowest bridge at the waterfall is known as Jacob's Ladder.

According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it.[4]

Tourism and notable sites associated with Devil's Bridge[edit]

Devil's Bridge has been a tourist attraction for centuries. The celebrated English author George Borrow wrote Wild Wales (1854), which includes a lively, humorous account of his visit to Pontarfynach. The George Borrow Hotel, a 17th-century inn where he reputedly stayed, is nearby.

Devil's Bridge is the location of Devil's Bridge railway station, the upper terminus of the historic narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway, which opened between Aberystwyth and Devil's Bridge in 1902.

The area was once part of the Hafod Estate, owned by Thomas Johnes. Johnes built a small hunting lodge on the estate. After several expansions and upgrades, it is now operated as the Hafod Hotel.

Popular culture[edit]

Devil's Bridge featured prominently in the opening two episodes of the 2013 Welsh-language crime noir, Y Gwyll[5] (literally "Darkness", titled in English "Devil's Bridge" and "Night Music"), shown on S4C and subsequently on BBC4 (as Hinterland). And again in series 3.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 16&e=62&g=6491524&i=1001x1003x1032x1004&m=0&r=0&s=1431519564662&enc=1 "Community population 2011" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Mid Wales 2008". CavingUK. Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  3. ^ Goudie, Andrew; Gardner, Rita (1992), "24 - Piracy at the Devil's Bridge", Discovering Landscape in England & Wales, Springer, pp. 70–71, ISBN 978-0412478505 
  4. ^ Hutton, Catherine (1891). Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Century: Letters of Catherine Hutton. p. 48–49. 
  5. ^ Ceri Radford (28 April 2014) "Hinterland, BBC Four, review: 'a corker'", The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 April 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°22′36″N 3°51′00″W / 52.3768°N 3.8500°W / 52.3768; -3.8500