Ever since we returned to Devil’s Bridge last week, something has been bothering me.
Maybe I should explain, and I could be wrong of course, but what’s been niggling me is the discovery of a body at the bottom of the waterfalls. The body of sixty-four year old Helen Jenkins to be precise.
And before anyone starts panicking, no-one’s been murdered (or not to my knowledge) and I haven’t abandoned my writing/publishing ambitions to become an amateur sleuth. I have, however, watched the first episode of Welsh drama Hinterland, much of which was filmed at Devil’s Bridge last November.
The deliberate bleakness of the drama fails to reveal just how spectacularly beautiful the landscape is; the village itself is split into two by the Mynach river, a tributary of the Rheidol which plunges 300 feet in a steep, narrow ravine. The river is crossed by three bridges just yards from the Hafod Hotel (renamed the Devil’s Bridge hotel in Hinterland), built one above the other. Local legend claims that the oldest and lowest bridge was built by the Devil himself in 1188 (while it’s a great yarn, in truth it’s more likely that the monks of nearby Strata Florida built it).
Nowadays, it’s the traffic on the bridge that’s more likely to be a danger than the Devil; leap sidewards to avoid an oncoming car and you might well find yourself free-falling into the ravine. It’s a good job that access on both sides of the bridge is guarded during evening/night-time hours by coin-operated turnstiles.
Which brings me back to the question that’s been bothering me. Catrin (played by Sara Lloyd-Gregory) looked quite petite to me, so how on earth did she manage to manouevre Helen’s body through the turnstile? Not only that, but she then had to carry the body – or hurl it – down to the water below where Mathias (the detective) eventually found it.
Presumably, Catrin didn’t swagger up to the turnstile at Devil’s Bridge Falls, Helen’s body tossed over her shoulder, and smile at the attendant while she rifled through her purse to find £3.75 for a day pass. Of course not. So she must have carried out the evil deed in the dark, suggesting that Catrin somehow managed to hang onto the body, while she pushed a £1 coin into a small slot (hard enough in daylight let alone in the pitch black) then negotiated two people (one dripping with blood) through the turnstile.
You see what I mean? And it’s not just the turnstile that would have been difficult to negotiate with a dead weight on your back, but masses of steps too. Catrin looked about eight stone nothing and we’re expected to believe she could carry her own body weight all the way down to the water.
When you peer all the way down into the ravine and consider the logistics, it all seems a little far-fetched.
Believability of the plot aside, everyone gets a thrill when they see familiar places on television, even if, as in this case, they are all a bit muddled up so that it’s not quite laid out the same.
Our second trip to Devil’s Bridge was hugely better in terms of weather, despite being so much earlier in the year. When we were walking the Cambrian Way a few years ago, we used a campsite at Devil’s Bridge as our base several nights. It was August but this being Wales and the terrain being quite high, it was absolutely freezing at night.
On the day we were walking from the campsite to Duffryn Castell, the weather was so bad we were forced to abandon our hike and return to Devil’s Bridge along the road. Our timing couldn’t have been worse… we walked back to Devil’s Bridge, cold and soaked to the skin, arriving just minutes after the pub had stopped serving food for the afternoon.
A return to our equally cold and soggy tent certainly didn’t appeal so we were busy drowning our sorrows in the Three Bridges Bar when a couple from our campsite walked in. We were only on nodding terms but, seeing our wet clothes (we were probably shivering too), they immediately took pity on us.
In the warmth of their trailer tent, we learnt that our new friend was a cook and didn’t believe in letting standards drop because she was temporary living under canvas. We dined in style and Harri tasted Hobgoblin beer for the first time.
We didn’t stay overnight at Devil’s Bridge – the hotel is too expensive for us and it was far too cold to camp – but the next time we do find ourselves there in the dark, I’m going to throw Harri over my shoulder and see just how far I can stagger down that ravine.
Postscript: While checking some details, I stumbled upon this blogger’s hilarious take on the first episode of Hinterland. the funniest paragraph is definitely ‘Everyone was really, really Welsh. Not necessarily Welsh sounding (though, many were), but just really Welsh. The husband of the murderer was so Welsh I was pretty sure he was part leek.’