The hotel was originally a small hunting lodge built in 1787 by Thomas Johnes, the then squire of The Hafod Mansion Estate, and it was enlarged and converted into a Swiss style chateau in 1839 by the third Duke of Newcastle (hence our Duke of Newcastle Suite) and Sir Henry Houghton. Over the years further modification was carried out, particularly by John Waddingham, during 1870 to 1892. Hafod House no longer exists and the Hafod Estate is now administered by Forest Enterprise and the Hafod Trust in partnership.
During Thomas Johnes’ time the Red Kite (with a 5 foot wing span) would have been quite common but over subsequent years it was virtually exterminated in Wales, Scotland and England. One Red Kite appeared at Devil’s Bridge in 1946 and news of re-colonisation came in 1947 from schoolboy John Hughes who spotted a nesting pair. Since then a slow recovery, accelerated though the 1980’s, brought the Red Kite colony to today’s level.
Over many years many famous people have visited The Hafod Hotel and it is rumoured that when Lloyd George visited he was very impressed and was anxious to view the Rheidol Valley even though he believed a fee was payable for walking there! It may be that he considered such a payment was not in keeping with his status because, it is said, he secretly climbed the fence to escape payment.
The roar of the nearby Mynach Falls is immortalised in Wordsworth’s sonnet…
To The Torrent At Devil’s Bridge September 1824
HOW art thou named? In search of what strange land
From what huge height, descending? Can such force
Of waters issue from a British source,
Or hath not Pindus fed thee, where the band
Of Patriots scoop their freedom out, with hand
Desperate as thine? Or come the incessant shocks
From that young Stream, that smites the throbbing rocks
Of Viamala? There I seem to stand,
As in life’s morn; permitted to behold,
From the dread chasm, woods climbing above woods,
In pomp that fades not; everlasting snows;
And skies that ne’er relinquish their repose;
Such power possess the family of floods
Over the minds of Poets, young or old!
Of the three level Devil’s Bridge over the Mynach (Monk) Falls the lowest one is said to have been built over 800 years ago by the monks of Strata Florida Abbey. Legend, says however, of Pont-y-gwr-Drwg (Bridge of the Evil One) ‘no one except the Devil could have built such a bridge in such a place’. The middle bridge was built in the mid 1700’s and the top bridge was built in 1901 and strengthened in 1971/1972.