Monday, 1 July 2013

Devil's Bridge

Had a fairly leisurely day today, hanging around at Mag and Tom's house for most of the morning.  After lunch, we travelled to Devil's Bridge, about 12 miles from Aberystwyth, in the Vale of Rheidol.  The short drive to Devil's Bridge is extremely pretty.  The road takes the motorist high above the valley below, with its undulating hills, panoramic views, and myriad fields bounded by rows of dark green oak trees.

On our arrival, we watched the arrival of the steam train called the Prince of Wales at Devil's Bridge station, completing its slow 90 minute journey from Aberystwyth.  The trip no doubt pleased the odd German tourist for the natural beauty, and small children for the sound of the engine and the sight of the steam.  Actually, it's not really a steam train at all, but a diesel-powered steam replica.  In the old days, it was a real steam engine, and was the very last owned by British Rail.

Tom, Jean and I climbed down the track into the little wooded 'canyon' that leads to Devil's Bridge itself.   The canyon is dominated by the collective greenery of ferns, ash, stinging nettles (and the odd fox glove) and other thick green bushes that rise up from the floor below.  Devil's Bridge is the junction of the Mynach and Rheidol rivers.  Here, the river flow becomes a waterfall.  The rush of water tumbles down the slope from above and crashes against the rocky walls at the bottom.  The flow of the water has carved two intriguing circular shapes in the rock walls near the bottom.  The sight and sound of the crashing water provides a complementing backdrop to the main attraction - Devil's Bridge.  

The bridge is actually three bridges, all on top of each other.  A thousand years ago, in the 11th century, monks lived at Ystrad Fflur and made their way on foot to the lead mines in the area.  A pedestrian bridge was constructed for their convenience.  By 1708, a new bridge was built directly above the 11th century one to cater for the age of the horse and cart.  In 1901, a third bridge was constructed above the second one to allow for modern motor vehicles to cross over.

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