Devil's Bridge, Wales

Beauty Spot

Devil's Bridge, Wales

The village of Devil's Bridge, 10 miles inland from Aberystwyth in Wales, is named after a distinctive structure which spans the River Mynach here. Three bridges, stacked one above the other, straddle the ravine, and there are no other bridges built like this in the world.

The uppermost span was constructed in 1902 over another stone bridge built in 1753 and the original dating all the way back to as early as 1075–1200.

The bridge is at a point where the River Mynach drops 90 metres (300 ft) in five steps down a steep and narrow ravine before it meets the River Rheidol. The set of stone steps, known as Jacob's Ladder, a circular walk for tourists, leads down to a modern metal bridge below the waterfalls.

The name “Devil’s Bridge” seems fitting here in honour of the strange construction, but there are in fact dozens, if not hundreds, of similarly named arched stone bridges throughout Europe. Like all of its counterparts, this bridge comes with its own devil story.

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. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.

Devil’s Bridge has been a tourist attraction for over 100 years.  Writers such as George Borrow visited here and wrote about it’s rugged beauty before the top bridge had even been built. Wordsworth and Turner were also visitors.

The village is small but interesting. There is a steam railway to the spot from Aberystwyth, a nature trail, and a hotel. Fans of on-screen Celtic-noir may recognise the location from moody Welsh detective series Hinterland, which has increased international interest in this scenic spot.

Further reading

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