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Devil’s Bridge is also called ‘Pontarfynach’ which is the Welsh name for the village. It is not a direct translation; more of the opposite actually ! Pont means bridge but Fynach changes to Mynach which means Monk. It’s thought that the first or lowest of the three bridges was actually built by the Monks of Strata Florida to help ease their efforts in travelling to the Abbey in Pontrhyfendigaid some 9 miles away.
The English name Devil’s Bridge was probably first used when Thomas John, owner of the Hafod Estate, started enticing visitors to his new hunting lodge. This was slowly developed into the Hofod Hotel and coach houses. The legend used with the devil building a bridge so that an old lady can get her cow back is very similar to the legend used in Switzerland where the devil builds a bridge so that a lost goat can safely cross the ravine.
Thomas John had visited Switzerland and seen the chalet type architecture inspiring him to built his hunting lodge with the Alpine style roof.
Devil’s Bridge has been a tourist attraction for over 100 years.
As people became more adventurous they headed into ‘Wild West Wales’. From Aberystwyth they could catch the ‘coach’ up to Devil’s Bridge and explore the rugged landscape.
The paths were dangerous with not much in the way of hand rails.
Remember that the ladies would have been dressed in heavy long skirts and tightly fitted shirts and worn boots with very little grip.
Guide books were written to help aid the new tourists explore this area.
Many famous people, such as William Wordsworth, George Borrow, and Turner have visited Devil’s Bridge over the years.
Wordsworth wrote of his visit to the Falls:
TO THE TORRENT AT THE DEVIL’S BRIDGE, NORTH WALES, 1824
HOW, art thou named? In search of what strange land
From what huge height, descending? Can such force
Of waters issue from a British source,
Or hath not Pindus fed thee, where the band
Of Patriots scoop their freedom out, with hand
Desperate as thine? Or come the incessant shocks
From that young Stream, that smites the throbbing rocks
Of Viamala? There I seem to stand,
As in life’s morn; permitted to behold,
From the dread chasm, woods climbing above woods,
In pomp that fades not; everlasting snows;
And skies that ne’er relinquish their repose;
Such power possess the fitmily of floods
Over the minds of Poets, young or old!
Devil’s Bridge has been a popular tourist attraction since Victorian times. If you have a few minutes, you can hear about this by clicking the links below: