Recently, I made a visit to a classic site in haunted Wales, Glyn Diffwys, just off the old A5 near the village of Llangwm. Once upon a time Glyn Diffwys was one of the most visited sites in North Wales, considered one of the highlights of any tour of this wild region in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
When George Borrow stopped here on his tour of 'Wild Wales', he described Glyn Diffwys as 'one of the wildest and most beautiful scenes imaginable'. According to a recently erected plaque, the little projection in the wall beside the road you can see in the picture is where Borrow stood to admire the view. You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. The tragedy is that the tree cover has been allowed to grow so extensively that the view that made Glyn Diffwys famous has been almost entirely obscured.
Hidden behind those trees is an old, single-arched bridge perched high over a narrow gorge through which the River Ceirw tumbles down a series of falls, overlooked by steep precipes and dramatic outcrops of rock. When I visited with my friends Stuart, Beth and Cameron McFadden, we could all hear the roaring of the falls but alas could do no more than glimpse the occasional splash of white water through the trees. The four of us even tried to make our way up through the valley, but were defeated. I'm not usually one to suggest chopping down trees, but in this case some management of the smaller trees choking up the foreground would return to view one of the most spectacular scenes in North Wales.
For a long time the view has been impossible to access because the A5 was just too busy along this stretch. Now that a new stretch of the road has been provided, this wiggly bit of Thomas Telford's road has been turned into a footpath. It's ironic that Telford incorporated viewing platforms into the road verges so that the majesty of Glyn Diffwys could be enjoyed by the visitors of his own day. It's even more ironic that Conwy Council should set up a plaque highlighting the beauty of the scene without considering that it is now obscured. I'd like to see the tree cover thinned and a foorpath created to improve access to this formerly celebrated spot.
They'd have to put up new signs warning about the ghosts, though. This is what Elias Owen had to say about Glyn Diffwys and the bridge that spans the gorge in his book 'Welsh Folklore' published in 1896:
'There is a picturesque glen between Corwen and Cerrig-y-Drudion down which rushes a mountain stream, and over this stream is a bridge, called Pont-y-Glyn. On the left hand side, a few yards from the bridge, on the Corwen side, is a yawning chasm, through which the river bounds. Here people who have travelled by night affirm that they have seen ghosts - the ghosts of those who have been murdered in this secluded glen.
'A man who is now a bailiff near Ruthin, but at the time of the appearance of the Ghost to him at Pont-y-Glyn, was a servant of Garth Meilio - states that one night, when he was returning home late from Corwen, he saw before him, seated on a heap of stones, a female dressed in Welsh costume. He wished her good night, but she returned him no answer. She, however, got up and proceeded down the road, which she filled, so great were her increased dimensions.' (p. 197)
If you're interested in ghosts, you may also like to visit my other blog http://uncannyuk.blogspot.com