Devil’s Bridge

Norwegians are not given to any kind of formalities. No titles, all first names. If I bump into the prime minister on the street, I’ll probably say ‘Hei, Jens’. That informality and egalitarianism is something I value highly. But occasionally, something is missing. Graduation is one such occasion: whether you’ve finished high school or have gotten a PhD, there’s no ceremony, no gold embossed diploma in a leather cover, just an ordinary piece of A4 paper in the post box. In Aberystwyth (and probably the rest of the world), it’s a different story: gowns and hoods, academic processions, a graduation ball even – 4 whole days of ceremonies. In July, we’re going to Aberystwyth for Alex’s graduation. It’s 10 months since she finished, but as there is only one ceremony a year, this is it. And what does it matter if it’s late – it’ll be fun! Meanwhile, I’ve asked Alex to tell us about Aber’s legendary Devil’s Bridge.

Devil's Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

Pontafyrnach, the bridge over the River Mynach, is a funny place. It’s enchanting and eerie, and an absolute must if you’re in the Aberystwyth area. There are actually three bridges, one on top of the other.

Not unexpectedly, summer is the best – and easiest – time to visit. The Vale of Rheidol steam train travels from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge from Easter until the end of October (adult return fares £14), and is a gorgeous journey. The train takes about one hour (with a brief stop halfway to refill coal). You can sit out in the open air or in a closed carriage. Either way, it’s a scenic and very enjoyable ride.

Devil's Bridge

Scenic train views

Devil's Bridge

At Devil’s Bridge, there’s a small hotel and a couple of nondescript diners; that’s about it. The hotel was built in the last century to accommodate all the tourists who came to see the bridges, and has a very cosy country-feel to it. Great place to stop for sandwiches after the nature walk!

You can see the bridges from the road, but the best way to see the surrounding woodlands and the wonderful bridges is to do the one-hour nature trail. Sensible shoes, please!

Walking the nature trail, you will see:

Devil's Bridge
Friendly birds

Devil's Bridge
Ruins of Iron Age fortresses

Devil's Bridge
Robber’s Cave (post coming up)

Devil's Bridge
Pretty waterfalls

Devil's Bridge
‘Jacob’s Ladder’ – a set of very steep stairs leading down into the valley

Devil's Bridge
And of course the three bridges. (The top one is out of view, it was covered up for maintenance work when we were there)

So why is it called Devil’s Bridge?

There are several legends, but the most popular one goes as follows:

Many centuries ago, an old woman was walking in the woods, looking for her cow. Seeing it on the other side of a deep ravine, she had no way to retrieve it. Suddenly the Devil appeared, and told her he could build a bridge so she could go get it.

In return, he wanted the first soul that crossed the bridge. The Devil was sneaky, thinking he’d get the old woman’s soul, but she was too clever for him.

The next morning, the bridge was built. The old woman came to have a look, then threw a piece of bread onto the bridge. Her dog ran to get it, thereby becoming the first soul to cross the bridge. The Devil was furious, because he didn’t want the dog. He disappeared in a rage and has never again been seen in Wales.

The bottom bridge, supposedly the Devil’s work, was actually built in 1070 – 1200 by monks of the Strata Florida Abbey (now in ruins). The second bridge was built in 1753, and the last one, an iron bridge, in 1901.

Devil's Bridge
It’s all water under the bridge now anyway…


Alexandra Redisch is a citizen of the world, as Ibsen’s Peer Gynt said, but hails from Norway. She’s a published short story author, old-fashioned mystery fanatic, avid traveller and intense tea drinker. Alex has a BSc in psychology and an MA in creative writing.
She is currently working on a book about the ‘Germany students’, who were taken by force from the University of Oslo in November 1943, then brought to Germany. A few were medical students in the last half hour of their last exam. Alex’ s grandfather was one of these students.

Center map


For more fun travel photos, head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox and DeliciousBaby.



56 Responses to “Devil’s Bridge”

  1. Turkey's For Life 21 March 2012 2036 #

    Wow, too much to comment on here. First of all, love that Norway isn’t big on titles but second of all, it’s great that you’re getting to enjoy a bit of ceremony at Alex’s graduation in Wales. We all love a bit of celebration once in a while. Thirdly, I’d love to read Alex’s book about the ‘Germany students’ when it’s finished. So much we don’t know about from the Nazi period.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2012 0006 #

      Thanks for your nice comment, Julia. Yes, it is fun to celebrate once in a while 🙂

  2. jade 21 March 2012 2346 #

    that does look like the friendliest bird ever! So cute!

  3. Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2012 0010 #

    She got a really nice shot of that bird, I thought. Looks like you could just reach out and touch it. .

  4. Bob R 22 March 2012 0112 #

    Wales is place I know very little about. This looks like a beautiful area. And I’m happy to hear it’s accessible by train. 🙂

  5. Charmaine 22 March 2012 0444 #

    This kind of birds looks very friendly kind and cute..Thanks for sharing..

  6. Mary @ The World Is A Book 22 March 2012 0647 #

    These are beautiful pictures and what a fascinating story on an off the beaten path place. Congratulations on the graduation and it’s never too late to celebrate a great accomplishment. Love the bird picture.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1322 #

      Thanks, Mary!

  7. Annie - FootTracker 22 March 2012 0657 #

    aww poor dog. The surrounding area leading to Devil’s Bridge look rather beautiful and serene though….hmmm, is it part of the Devil’s temptation plan too…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1323 #

      the sly, well, devil…

  8. Michael 22 March 2012 0825 #

    Picturesque scenery. Should remind myself to get to Wales one of these days. About ceremonies, at least graduation ceremonies, high school graduation in Germany didn’t have them, until the year of my own graduation in the 70’s. The students wanted one so our school organised one. I think now they do have this kind of ceremony in German high schools, unless they’ve reverted to before the 70’s.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1324 #

      Interesting. And made me wonder why students here haven’t demanded a ceremony…

  9. Muza-chan 22 March 2012 0831 #

    Great article, interesting legend 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1325 #

      Thanks, Muza-chan.

  10. ItalianNotes 22 March 2012 0936 #

    In contrast to the name is looks almost serene.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1326 #

      Yeah, one would expect the devil’s anything to be a bit more bleak.

  11. InsideJourneys 22 March 2012 1231 #

    I just climbed a Jacob’s Ladder here this week!
    What a fascinating story. The views are breathtaking. I’d love to read more about those German students when Alex is finished.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1327 #

      Thanks. Read about your climb; must have been lovely (if exhausting 🙂 )

  12. Laurel 22 March 2012 1422 #

    Great photos and I was going to say much to beautiful for a name like “Devil’s Bridge” until you explained the name 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1328 #

      It’s an interesting legend. I quite like the positive ending – the devil has never been seen in Wales again…

  13. Vera Marie Badertscher 22 March 2012 1430 #

    Congratulations on a winning post. Both the story and the pictures that lead up to the bridges keeping us in suspense. Great combo. Anybody know what kind of bird that is?
    In the U.S. we have graduation ceremonies constantly. Would you believe kids graduate from nursery school?
    Seriously, Alex, put me on your review list for that book. It sounds like a great one for A Traveler’s Library.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1332 #

      Nursery school? Amazing! I was an exchange student in high school in the USA a million years ago, so I had a graduation ceremony then. It was fun.

  14. Vera Marie Badertscher 22 March 2012 1432 #

    Whoops, somehow I linked the wrong blog and article–although you’re welcome to take a look at the one that is mentioned above. Let’s try again so that you can play a guessing game.

  15. Sabrina 22 March 2012 1537 #

    Beautiful! I can’t believe how green it all is. Devil’s bridge sounds intimidating. Smart woman, poor dog 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1332 #

      I kinda like that women outsmart the devil in Wales 🙂

  16. Jackie Smith 22 March 2012 1555 #

    Wow, simply wow. The photos are spectacular and I love the narrative.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1333 #

      Thanks, Jackie 🙂

  17. Lisa 22 March 2012 1848 #

    Great story – I love hearing old legends for how places were named! I was also intrigued by Alex’s bio and the description of the book that she is working on. I had no idea that this had occurred during the war years, although I am certainly not surprised. An interesting topic for research that should make for a fascinating story.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1334 #

      Yes, it all started when she found my father’s diary from the war years.

  18. Dick Jordan 22 March 2012 1921 #

    Interesting bit of folklore!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1334 #


  19. Leigh 22 March 2012 1947 #

    I hadn’t appreciated the informality of Norway or the lack of ceremony. I think graduations are important to mark passages in your life. What an interesting story and what a talented daughter you have. Of course I love the bird picture too.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1335 #

      Thanks, Leigh. Something about that bird… very cute.

  20. Cathy Sweeney 22 March 2012 2127 #

    Oh, I love enchanting and eerie places. Your photos are fantastic of the bridge and the beautiful area. And thanks for the insight into the informal lifestyle of Norwegians — I didn’t know!

  21. Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1337 #

    Wales is full of enchanting places and legends.

  22. Nancie 23 March 2012 1516 #

    I also never knew how informal Norwegians are. Great post and congrats to Alex on your graduation. Enjoy all the ceremonies and fun; you’ve earned it!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1544 #

      Thanks, Nancie! Li’l sister will probably tease her when she’s all dressed up in robes…

  23. That is awesome – love hearing the historical stories behind landmarks like this!!!
    If you would like to link up with another Photo Meme, I host Friday Daydreamin’ every Friday! I’d love for you to join!


    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2012 1536 #

      Thanks. And will do 🙂

  24. cheryl 23 March 2012 2021 #

    Amazing photos of what’s truly a beautiful place! And gosh, I can’t wait to get to Norway this year! =)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0951 #

      Are you coming to Oslo – or the Western fjords? Or both?

  25. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy 24 March 2012 1734 #

    That seems a lot more picturesque and attractive than its name would suggest.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0952 #

      Yeah, it doesn’t look very diabolical, does it…

  26. Jenna 24 March 2012 2142 #

    What a great story and views, and a bridge from 1070? Amazing.
    I love that your daughter is writing posts on here. I look forward to her book– sounds interesting!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0955 #

      Thanks. Since this is, at least in part, a blog about travelling with kids, I thought the kids should be heard – even if, strictly speaking, this one is no longer a kid 🙂

  27. Sonja 25 March 2012 0116 #

    Looks like your daughter takes after her mother – a talented writer!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0956 #

      Thank you, Sonja!

  28. robin 25 March 2012 1639 #

    So Wales the place to be then, if you’re not-so-much on the devil. Great piece!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0957 #

      You know, for years, I listened to people saying there’s not much to Wales, so I didn’t bother going. So wrong. Wales is fabulous; so full of wondrous places.

  29. What an intriguing place and story. I love the photo of Jacob’s Ladder. Congrats on graduating! 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0958 #

      Thanks for stopping by, Andi!

  30. Emme Rogers 26 March 2012 0253 #

    What a great shot of the bird. Looks like a fantastic hike!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 March 2012 0959 #

      Beautiful little bird, isn’t it. I look forward to doing the hike myself when we go this summer.

  31. D.J. - The World of Deej 1 April 2012 2134 #

    Great pics…the one of the little bird, looks like he’s in 3D!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 April 2012 1150 #

      Thanks, Deej 🙂

  32. ciki 1 May 2012 0524 #

    studied in Cardiff a long time ago.. really miss Wales.. and all that green!

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