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CHAPTER XIX.

ABERYSTWITH TO LLANIDLOES.

(By the Old Road 30 Miles—by Pont Erwydd 28 Miles.)

Roads to Llanidloes-Pont Erwydd— Road from Pont Erwydd to the

Devil's Bridge— Ysptty Cynfyn— The Parson's BridgePlynlimmon -Sources of the Rivers Severn, Wye, and Rheidol-Llanidloes.

From Aberystwith there are two roads leading to Llanidloes—the old road, which passes over the Cwmtoyddwr Hills, and the Devil's Bridge; and the new road, over Pont Erwydd. The distance from Aberystwith by the old road, direct to the Devil's Bridge, is 11} miles; this road is hilly and dreary, but it commands fine views of the vale and of the sea. Proceeding by the new road, the scenery for the first few miles through the vale of the Rheidol is very luxuriant and pleasing; the river Rheidol is then concealed by the intervening hills. Immediately before reaching the Druid, an inn 7 miles from Aberystwith, the road commands a beautiful view of Dyffryn Melindol, with the sea in the distance. From the point where this vale closes, to Pont Erwydd, the country wears a dreary aspect.

PONT ERWYDD

Is a small village 12 miles from Aberystwith and 4 from the Devil's Bridge, at the confluence of the rivers Castel and Rheidol, surrounded by scenery as wild as that at the Devil's Bridge, but not so rich and varied.

THE DEVIL'S BRIDGE.

183

Those travellers who wish to go by Pont Erwydd to the Devil's Bridge must, upon leaving Pont Erwydd, proceed along an extremely rugged and bad road 14 mile in length, which leads into the old road from Aberystwith to Llanidloes; upon reaching this, they must turn towards Aberystwith, and after travelling 2} miles further they will come in sight of

THE DEVIL'S BRIDGE, A bridge of a single arch bestriding a deep and narrow chasm. It was erected at the expense of the county of Cardigan, in the year 1753, over the old bridge, which is also a single arch, and yet remains. This is said to have been erected in the thirteenth century by the monks of Ystrad Fflur Abbey, near the source of the Teivy. The stream of the Mynach descending with rapidity from mountains about 5 miles to the north-east, and gradually deepening its channel as it flows, passes under the bridge at the depth of 114 feet.

Leaving the Hafod Arms, which is an inn close to the bridge, crossing the bridge, and descending the precipice to the right to the depth of about 100 feet, the gloom of the surrounding scenery and the roaring of the water, which by its impetuous course has hollowed out a portion of the rocks into semi-cylinders, is awfully striking; the whole looks like a gap into the interior of the earth. On regaining the road a descending path to the left leads to a projecting rock, from whence the four falls of the Mynach may be seen, and in an opposite direction the fall of the Rheidol. From this point the Hafod Arms inn, towering above, has a most picturesque effect, and unites with the surrounding woods, mountains and falls, in forming a scene scarcely to be surpassed. The first fall of the Mynach takes place about 40 yards south-west of the bridge, where the river is confined to narrow limits by the rocks; it is carried about 6 feet over the ridge, and projected into a basin at the depth of 24 feet. Its next leap is 56 feet, and the third is again diminished to 18, when it encounters rocks of prodigious size, through which it struggles to the edge of the largest cataract, and pours in one torrent, slightly broken, towards the bottom, down a precipice of 110 feet. The river therefore falls 208 perpendicular feet, without allowing for the declivity of the three pools. Add to this 114, and the perpendicular depth from the bridge to the junction of the Mynach and Rheidd is 322 feet and upwards.

The fall of the Rheidol is of a totally different character, being of a more shelving form, and much less in height than that of the Mynach.

To the left of the inn is a path descending by the side of the falls to the Robber's Cave; there is nothing extraordinary in the cave, but as the descent is not so difficult or fatiguing as either of the others, a ramble here will pass the time very agreeably.

The view from the windows of the Hafod Arms is perfectly enchanting. Immediately below, and only separated from the house by the road, is a profound chasm, stretching east and west about a mile, the almost perpendicular sides of which are covered with trees of different kinds. At the bottom of this abyss flows the river Mynach, whilst in front of the spectator is seen the Rheidol rushing down a chasm in the mountains with tremendous fury.

Leaving the Devil's Bridge for Llanidloes, at the distance of 14 mile, is Ysptty Cynfyn, whose church stands on the left hand of and very near to the high road. This was a part of the great monastic establishment at Ystrad Fflur, and as the name imports, was a place of hospitality and refuge. There are in the church-yard many upright monumental stones, and these, as well as the circular form of the

THE PARSON'S BRIDGE-PLYNLIMMON.

185

consecrated ground, have induced Mr. Malkin to believe that this was formerly a large Druidical circle or temple.

Through the church-yard is a path leading to

THE PARSON'S BRIDGE, Which consists of nothing more than two planks of wood with a slender hand-rail : it is a picturesque spot, and the waters of the Rheidol pouring tumultuously down a confined valley, struggle under the bridge for

passage

with amazing fury.

One mile from Ysptty Cynfyn the road leaves the river Rheidol, and leads through what Mr. Pennant properly calls a country of sheep-walks, to Steddfa Gurig, a small village about 8 miles from the Devil's Bridge. This is nearer to Plylimmon than any other place on the road, the summit of the mountain being about 3 miles distant from the village.

PLYNLIMMON, Or more properly Pumlumon, " the five-peaked mountain," is the chief southernmost height of a long chain of hills which run for the most part north and south. The adjacent hills being all low, render Plynlimmon much higher in appearance than it really is: from this, and its giving birth to three noted rivers, the Severn, the Wye, and the Rheidol, it seems not improbable that it originally obtained its celebrity. In perpendicular height it is far exceeded by Snowdon, and many other mountains in the principality.

SOURCES OF THE SEVERN, WYE, AND RHEIDOL. The Severn rises from a small spring on the south-east side of Plynlimmon, and nearly at its summit. The water issues from a rock at the bottom of a kind of large hole, the sides of which are formed of peat. The ground around the edges is somewhat elevated. A stream so small issues from this place, that a child four years of age might stride across it. The water, which is of a red colour, is unpleasant to the taste. Those

persons

who wish to trace the Severn to its source are directed to keep the right-hand stream all the way up the mountain.

The Wye rises from two powerful springs on the southeastern side of the mountain.

The Rheidol has its source in a pool called Llyn Llygad Rheidol.

The high road from Stedfa Gurig leads beside the fast descending stream Tarenig, between defiles of broad green mountains, to its junction with the Wye, which is crossed by a bridge at the distance of about 11 miles from the Devil's Bridge. Four miles further on, at Llanugrig, the road leaves this celebrated river, and leads to the vale of the Severn.

The approach to

LLANIDLOES, The Church of St. Idloes, is very pretty. The streets of this town are wide, but the houses in general very irregular, and not good. The town is built in the form of a cross, having the market-house or town-hall nearly in the centre. The church is remarkable only for having six arches, supported by clustered columns, ending in capitals of palm leaves. The inhabitants assert that these were brought, some time after the dissolution, from Cwm Hir Abbey in Radnorshire. In Llanidloes there is still a considerable quantity of flannel manufactured, although in this trade it has perhaps been outrivalled by Newtown.

The population of Llanidloes is 4189. The principal inn is the New Inn.

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