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"Over the chasm from ridge to ridge,
A bridge of stone-that seemed to have grown
AMONG the wild and picturesque grandeur of Welsh scenery, there is no locality more strikingly romantic than that of Pont-y-Mynach, or Devil's Bridge, in Cardiganshire. The singular arch frowning over the dark chasm, and the roaring water, is calculated to impress the mind of the spectator, and has suggested to the superstitious the idea of some diabolical origin. “It is a scene," says Roscoe, "to be feasted on, trembled at, and dreamed of, sleeping or waking; but not to be pre-conceived, painted, or described."
In looking at the remarkable arch, there is something so terribly striking, that it is no matter of surprise that the uneducated vulgar of former days should have ascribed its origin to Satanic agency. This indeed was the way they had of settling all difficulties; that which they could not understand as a work of art, they immediately ascribed to the Prince of Evil, to some mighty magician, or extraordinary giant of former times. Near Brighton we have the Devil's Dyke, with a legendary story of its dreadful origin; supernatural agency is called into request to account for Stonehenge; and the celebrated Basaltic Causeway in Ireland is ascribed to the giants. So far, however, from the King of Wickedness having anything to do with the arch among the Cardiganshire mountains, tradition affirms that it was constructed by the monks of St. Florida Abbey, eight centuries ago. Some difficulty occurs in fixing its precise date, but the arch was known to exist and excited popular attention when Cambrensis with Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, preached the Crusade in Wales. The upper arch is of modern erection, built rather more than a hundred years ago at the expense of the county.
The following graphic picture of the surrounding scenery we quote from a talented writer, in the confidence that it will be perused with pleasure by our readers:
"In order to form an adequate conception of the vast and gloomy chasm, and of the magnificent beauty of the scenery, it is necessary to pass over the bridge, and descend by a steep and somewhat dangerous path on the right hand. Here will be contemplated with amazement, not unmingled with awe,
a narrow perpendicular fissure in the solid rock, 114 feet in height, roofed over by the strange double arched bridge, and the waters of the Mynach struggling through the confined passage, and by their ceaseless rush and roar enhancing the solemn grandeur of the sublime abyss. It has been commonly supposed that the chasm has been produced by the force of the current, but reflecting on the great depth of the opening as compared with its width, which in some parts does not exceed fifteen inches, we cannot admit the prevailing opinion; although it is easy to conceive that the waters having here found an outlet, may have gradually deepened their confined channel.
Returning to the road a second descent is made on the opposite side, passing through a wood and round an abrupt point of rock, in order to view the Falls of the Mynach, escaping from the narrow ravine and rushing down to mingle its waters with those of the Rheidol, making in its passage four distinct leaps or cascades. The guides generally conduct first to a point of view, where the pools, by which these falls are separated, being nearly concealed, the whole appear to form one continuous cataract; and then by another path from which they are seen individually. The river is first carried over the rocky ridge, and projected into a basin at a depth of twenty-four feet; its next leap is fifty-six feet; the third about twenty-feet; after which it struggles amidst some vast masses of opposing rock, to the edge of the great cataract, from which it is precipitated in one unbroken and impetuous torrent not less than 110 feet. Including the distance from the bridge to the water, and allowing for the inclined direction of the river in those parts which are comparatively smooth, the total height from the bridge to the level of the stream at its junction with the Rheidol is computed to be at least 500 feet. The scene in the midst of which this mighty rush of water occurs, is distinguished alike by glowing beauty and solemn, terrific grandeur. The stupendous rocks which rise on either side to a height of 800 feet, are richly clothed with luxuriant wood and foliage, and rendered bright and brilliant by a profusion of blossoms and flowers, and by showers of gay and glittering spray, reflecting the prismatic colours, and casting around the whole an arch of loveliness and glory."