As we drove to our Sykes Cottages place Barbara House in Cardigan Bay I saw the signs for Devils Bridge, it nudged something dark in my subconscious but I couldn’t for the life of me place what. I watched from the window as we entered an otherworldly landscape of hinterland locations: forest, isolated farmhouses, tiny chapels, reservoirs and rugged open moorland, red kites soared ominously above the trees. This part of Wales is quite unique, mountains give way to a wonderfully remote feeling, it reminded me of Canada in its scale of houses to land. The land soon gives way to the sea and a stretch of beautifully multi coloured seafront houses in pretty villages.
We stayed in a beautiful blue house in the seaside village of Llannon.
As I was flicking through the leaflets in the gorgeous and cosy cottage, I saw leaflets advertising walks round tiny remote chapels and again something in my subconscious ruffled the hairs on my neck. It wasn’t until I reached the bottom of the pile of leaflets and found this one that I finally realised where the creepy feelings had come from. An episode of Hinterland we had watched on Netflix.
If you haven’t seen it, mysterious DCI Mathias starts a new job based in Aberystwyth and the surrounding area, or Hinterland. His first day on the job sees him solving a murder in Devil’s Bridge, the climax of the episode takes place in a tiny remote chapel. The series was part of a BBC commitment to showing more Wales on TV and it was made simultaneously in Welsh and English, in Welsh it was titled Y Gwyll or The Dusk.
We had an amazing time exploring the seaside villages of Aberaeron and New Quay, but by Tuesday I felt I needed to exorcise the Hinterland demons and explore Devil’s Bridge. It turned out to be a great day out for the family, with the added layer of filmic interest for Mr A and I.
Hinterland Locations – Devil’s Bridge
I remember DCI Mathias finding bloodstains on this bridge, but the sunshine, ticket office, shop, signage and other visitors soon helped me feel more at ease. It is a stunning family nature walk.
While the kids leapt about and marvelled at the landscape, it was hard not to see it all in camera angles, what an amazing place to shoot! A Hitchcock dream, with the vertigo enhancing set of the River Mynach crashing through the deep ravine of ferns and ancient oaks. The perfect thriller setting, so many steps, a winding path, so desolate and no idea what is lurking at the end.
The hotel is also used as a set, and a really creepy back story it has too, I won’t ruin it for you.
Devil’s Bridge has a great folk story behind it – the shop can give you a map and a copy or you can download it here – and as we walked down the ravine I began to read it out to the rest of the family, who were hooked. Hinterland unfolds around a team of modern detectives, but also draws on the ancient legends of Ceredigion and Wales, which makes it a really powerful thriller narrative.
This picture really captures how much the landscape seems to belong to another world, Mr A said it reminds him of Canada.
Once you reach the bottom of the ravine the views of the 300ft waterfall are stunning.
We really enjoyed Jacob’s Ladder, a set of 100 steps. Again the photos start to remind me of a thriller…I used to love teaching a Media Studies A Level module on making a thriller opening sequence, I can see exactly why Hinterland was filmed here, apart from the dramatic setting, the angles and sense of vertigo is really effective too.
The walk has lots to keep everyone entertained, a bridge at the bottom, before climbing back up the other side, alongside the waterfall.
The kids were excited to find icicles.
One last look back, through a telescope that again screamed thriller opening sequence to me too.
More stunning views of the incredible landscape.
The nature walk brings you out at the Hafod Hotel, I had to take some pictures, I won’t spoil the story but those windows and the phone box were so engrained in my mind.
After a day out Hinterland style we decided to follow DCI Mathias’s footsteps to Aberystwyth, where the police station is set. It was a grey day, and we were too hungry to spend much time looking for a dog friendly cafe or pub, so instead we went for chips on the sea front, which snuggled in a little shelter together was blissful. Max our greyhound especially loved the fact he got to snaffle everyone’s leftovers.
It was followed by tea and cake in a cafe and a bit of pocket money shopping. Max the greyhound was made such fuss of everywhere we went in Aberystwyth, such a friendly, lovely place full of exactly the kind of shops my kids, and their grown ups love.
Need to Know
Devils Bridge Falls – Info, maps and opening times
Dogs are allowed on leads. The only part of this walk that wasn’t so large dog friendly was getting out through the turnstile at the far end. Max took a lot of coaxing to go through, but luckily he did it. It was that or walk all the way back down and up and ask the man in the shop to let us through. It might be worth visiting during times when the attendant is there if you have a large dog. Attendant at entrance from 9.45 am to 5.30 pm but hours do vary depending on high or low season. More info here
Other Hinterland locations can be found by downloading this brochure.
We were guests of Sykes Cottages, opinions remain my own.