Edward Explores: Devil’s Bridge

The extra bank holiday granted for the recent Queen’s Jubilee celebration gave Edward’s bearers a four day weekend. It was decided that this would be the ideal time to leave the country for the first time since early 2020. A hotel was booked at the interestingly named Devil’s Bridge in mid-west Wales. It was hoped there would be less bunting here than rapidly proliferated as the weekend approached in the English village where Edward lives.

On entering the country Edward was immediately made to feel welcome. The hotel at which he stayed provided tasty biscuits for him to enjoy on his big bed – although sadly these weren’t replenished daily. If interested in an overview of The Hafod, you may read a review, in which Edward features, here.

Legend has it that the first of the devil’s bridges was built by the eponymous wicked being in order to trick a lady – whose cow had strayed across the river – into giving up her soul. She was far too canny for this mean minded ploy, although it was unclear from the various write-ups of the tale whether the dog she sent across in her place was rejected or taken by the devil. Edward asked the creature guarding the steps down to view the three bridges that exist today – built one on top of the other over several centuries as replacements were needed. He barked his reply before spreading his wings.

Edwards bearers took him on several river walks where he was able to view waterfalls, being careful to stay dry. He was also interested in the remains of a mine by a river, although not one of the deep ones he had read about that used to exist all over Wales, providing quality coal for trains. This one was a source of minerals, and still raises issues around water pollution today.

As well as the bridges and rivers, Edward explored the nearby town of Aberystwyth. It had a castle that had seen better days and a steep hill offering a fine view of the coastal settlement. It was quite windy on the summit so our intrepid bear held on tight to the bench where he paused to rest.

From Aberystwyth it is possible to catch a steam train back to Devil’s Bridge. Edward met a rather cheeky monkey at the station and offered words of advice about acceptable manners. Teddy bears are, of course, always well behaved.

After all his adventuring, Edward was pleased to return to the hotel each evening for dinner. He very much enjoyed his puddings and remained perplexed that one of his bearers kept opting for cheese instead.

Adventures do, of course, come to an end and our small bear – from the now defunct English Teddy Bear Company – was welcomed back to his home country, as may be expected. Although the Jubilee Weekend was drawing to a close, Edward arrived home just in time to join a tea party hosted by Elizabeth for a new friend she had made. He did wonder why Monty was guarding the teapot so carefully.

Edward was pleased to be travelling further afield again and enjoyed his few days away. He now has a more local trip pending that he looks forward to telling you all about next time.

Hotel Review: The Hafod

Hafod hotel

With the Jubilee weekend approaching, husband and I decided we would make use of the long weekend by getting out of the country. We left England for the first time since Covid restrictions were imposed, driving west into Wales. As hoped, the bunting was less prolific here.

We had booked ourselves into The Hafod Hotel at Devil’s Bridge (east of Aberystwyth) for three nights, on a dinner bed and breakfast basis. We were glad to have opted to be fed entirely here as there were few other options in the immediate area. The bar and restaurant proved popular with both residents and non-residents, something that at times affected service. The staff were unfailing friendly and welcoming but clearly working as hard as they could in challenging circumstances.

We had asked for a superior rather than basic room. What we got was newly refurbished accommodation. There wasn’t a great deal of space but it was fresh and clean. We appreciated the walk-in shower in the en-suite (there was no bath). The view of the valley was delightful.

The hotel is situated on a busy through road – although all roads in this area are narrow and twisty. It is popular with bikers, who parked their machines under our window. Across the road are tables that were well used by both residents and passers by. It all added to a convivial atmosphere. Overnight the traffic dropped and we were able to sleep well in the peace and quiet.

Within the hotel, food and drinks may be enjoyed in the restaurant or a large bar area. Between these is a lounge where we had our pre-dinner tipples. The hotel sources what it can locally and I enjoyed several gins from the Dyfi Distillery this can be visited in nearby Machynlleth.

From the lounge area a staircase rises to the guest accommodation. I was amused by a doorway that had been blocked with a smaller staircase it would be a challenge to climb.

The food on offer was oriented towards pub fare rather than fine dining. Portions were generous – rather more than I am used to eating. The menu was unchanged throughout our stay so I did repeat a few dishes.

While the halloumi fries were tasty, the delicious feta and melon starter suited me better.  My usual choice of fish arrived drenched in a sauce so I switched to the chicken burger thereafter. This contained a portion of whole chicken that I believe was deep fried – a preparation I usually avoid but managed to digest without issue. The cheese board proved excellent – local cheeses served with a good supply of biscuits and grapes. Husband enjoyed each of the puddings he ordered, trying a different one each evening.

Pleasant though our stay at the hotel was, the highlight for us was the location. From the hotel at Devil’s Bridge we walked both up and down the valley in which it sits. There were numerous waterfalls to marvel at as the various rivers converging in this area tumbled through steeply cut gorges. By climbing through woodland we gained a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Paths could be challenging to navigate at times – seriously boggy in places riverside and worryingly narrow above ravines. It was worth persevering to appreciate the topography. We heard cuckoos and woodpeckers. We pondered the preponderance of the rhododendrons that grew in every location.

Man-made structures were also admired, including the eponymous bridges – three built, one on top of the other, the oldest dating back many centuries.

We travelled to Aberystwyth on the Saturday morning to take part in their Parkrun, getting back to the hotel just in time for breakfast – we had previously checked it would be served until 10.30am. Sadly, my poached eggs were barely cooked on this day. I wondered if the kitchen staff had been inconvenienced by our later arrival at the table.

We returned to Aberystwyth in the afternoon to explore the town and enjoy a coastal walk – this was time well spent.

On our final day, having checked out of the hotel, we enjoyed a lovely walk in the nearby Hafod Estate. The riverside paths here were well maintained and the surrounds picturesque. It was a fitting end to a most enjoyable short break.

Hafod room name