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, originally a smaller lodge built by Thomas Johnes

Devil's Bridge (Welsh: Pontarfynach, lit. "The bridge on the Mynach") is a village and community 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 mid-2016 estimate suggests that the population had dropped slightly to 429.[2]

History[edit]

The Devil's Bridge/Pontarfynach village is best known for the bridge that spans 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 previous structures were not demolished.[3]

The most recently built, in 1901, is an iron bridge which was erected above the older arches. The original bridge is medieval and the second one, a stone structure, built in 1753 and upgraded in 1777 and in 1814, was erected when the original bridge was thought to be unstable. The builders of the 1753 structure used the original bridge (circa 1075–1200) to support scaffolding during construction and added a second arch. The 1901 structure eliminated the slope in the roadway. In 1971, the steelwork and railings were repaired and the bridge was strengthened. The structure was Grade II Listed on 21 January 1964, "as a remarkable succession of three superimposed bridges, one of the best known picturesque sites in Wales" and the listing was updated in 2005.[4][5][6]

The name in 1629 was Pont ar Vynach or Pontarfynach, meaning Bridge over the Mynach. The word Mynach is Welsh for monk; one theory is that the river got its name from the fact that it was near land owned by a monastery. The first mention of the structure using the English name Devil's Bridge, in historical records, is from 1734.[7]

The bridge is at a point where the River Mynach drops 90 metres (300 ft) in five steps[8] down a steep and narrow ravine before it meets the River Rheidol.[9] The set of stone steps, still open to tourists, leads down to the lowest bridge at the waterfall; it is known as Jacob's Ladder.[10]

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.[11] The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.[12]

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

Devil's Bridge has been a tourist attraction for centuries. Records indicate that tourists were coming to this area by the mid 1700s and that an inn or hotel has existed nearby since before 1796. The area was once part of the Hafod Estate, owned by Thomas Johnes who built a small hunting lodge on the estate which was eventually expanded into an inn. The building burned down and was rebuilt.[13] Significant renovations were completed in 1837-1839 and in the 1860s. After several expansions and upgrades, it has been operated as the Hafod Hotel, using this name since the 1860s. In 2017, new owners had arranged for a survey in preparation for a major renovation; they intended to maintain much of the historical character of the building.[14][15] Some interior renovation work had been completed by September 2017.[16]

The artist J. M. W. Turner sketched the bridge; this work is at the Tate Gallery, London. He also produced two watercolors of the area in 1795. In 1824, William Wordsworth published a poem, To the Torrent at the Devil’s Bridge, North Wales.[17]

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. Between Devil’s Bridge and Pontrhydygroeis Hafod Uchtryd, or Hafod where the hotel is located.[18]

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.

Tourism to the area increased after the bridge and the Hafod building were featured in the Hinterland (TV series)[19] which has been broadcast in numerous countries. (The hotel was presented, using flashbacks, as a children's home that had been closed down and turned into a B&B.)[20] Some tourists also enjoy the nearby nature trail, waterfalls and the historic steam railway.[21][22] Other places of interest and attractions are located a short drive from the area, some in Aberystwyth.[23] [24] [25]

The address for the Devil's Bridge area is Woodlands (referring to the caravan park where free parking for tourists' automobiles is available), Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3JW. The bridge is on the A4120, with sign posts providing guidance from the village centre.[26]

Popular culture[edit]

Devil's Bridge and the hotel building are featured prominently in the opening two episodes of the first series of the 2013 Welsh-language crime noir, Y Gwyll[27] (literally "Darkness", titled in English "Devil's Bridge" and "Night Music"), shown on S4C and subsequently on BBC4 as Hinterland. Both are featured again in series 3 of the programme. The three series are streamed on Netflix in Canada and the US and also in Japan, Taiwan, India, South Africa, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ "PONTARFYNACH Population". citypopulation.de. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "Amusing Planet - The Triple Bridge of Pontarfynach". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  4. ^ "Engineering Timelines,Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  5. ^ "Devil's Bridge". History Points. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  6. ^ "British Listed Buildings, Devil's Bridge / Pont ar Fynach". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  7. ^ "Devil's Bridge". History Points. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  8. ^ "Mid Wales 2008". CavingUK. Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  9. ^ Goudie, Andrew; Gardner, Rita (1992), "24 - Piracy at the Devil's Bridge", Discovering Landscape in England & Wales, Springer, pp. 70–71, ISBN 978-0412478505 
  10. ^ "World of Waterfalls - Mynach Falls (Devil's Bridge)". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  11. ^ Hutton, Catherine (1891). Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Century: Letters of Catherine Hutton. p. 48–49. 
  12. ^ "Amusing Planet - The Triple Bridge of Pontarfynach". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  13. ^ "The Hafod Hotel, Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion: review". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  14. ^ "Devil's Bridge". Sublime Wales, Early Tourists in Wales. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  15. ^ "Devil's Bridge". Wales Online, 'Hinterland' hotel to undergo a complete revamp following sale. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  16. ^ "The Hafod Hotel, Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion: review". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  17. ^ "Devil's Bridge". Sublime Wales, Early Tourists in Wales. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  18. ^ "Discover Ceredigion Region". Sublime Wales, Early Tourists in Wales. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  19. ^ "Devil's Bridge". Discover Ceredigion, Y Gwyll / Hinterland. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  20. ^ "Devil's Bridge". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  21. ^ "Devil's Bridge". Wales Online, 'Hinterland' hotel to undergo a complete revamp following sale. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  22. ^ "Devil's Bridge Falls". Devil's Bridge Falls. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  23. ^ "Things to do in Devil's Bridge". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  24. ^ "5 Best Things to do in Devil's Bridge". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  25. ^ "About Devil's Bridge". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  26. ^ "Devil's Bridge Falls". Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  27. ^ 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