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The Devil of Pont Brenig

Sometime in the dim and distant past, a young man of Hafod Elwy on Mynydd Hiraethog had call to attend to some urgent business in the town of Denbigh, a good 15 miles to the north. The journey on foot was a long one, longer for it being winter, and so he resolved to leave his home before dawn in order to make his appointment in good time, despite a nagging sense of unease.

 

The night was moonless and cold, drizzle dreary on the moors - and it wasn’t long before the young man felt his spirits begin to flounder within the gloom. And something else…a prickling fear, a feeling that all was not right, that all, in fact, was somehow curiously…misshapen. He had walked upon these moors many a time, and knew the heather hidden paths well enough to find them in the night. But never in the deep dark of an early winter morning, wearing the bleakness as a cloak. He considered turning back, such was his uncertainty and growing fear. But his business in Denbigh was urgent and so he pressed on.

 

As dawn approached, and a watery light began to leach into dark, the young man was hopeful that his unease would fade, that the light would bring with it relief from his fear - as he thought it ought. But, such hope was lost as he approached Pont Brenig, for as he reached the little bridge, his fear became almost too much - a weight he could no longer carry. He stopped and wearily leaned against the parapet stones. The sense that something was approaching was overwhelming.

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He peered through the grey mist rising from the little stream that ran below the bridge and to his horror saw the shape of a tall man approaching the bridge. Fit now to run, instead, to his surprise, the young man forced himself to stand tall and began to walk towards the figure. The man’s clothes were grey, with breeches fastened with gleaming golden buckles - his coat, discernable now as the figure approached, was long to his knees, with two rows of buttons like gold. And he wore a top hat, unusual for the age. But most unnerving of all was the man himself, since it was clear now that the long faced man was grinning widely, a feral looking smile that seemed to split his pale skin between his ears.

 

The young man stopped abruptly, aghast and frozen. He looked about him, for what purpose he knew not, since he was petrified to the spot, and was incapable of flight. But, just as the young man had begun to fear the very worst, the tall man suddenly stopped. In one smooth motion, he swept his hat from his head and with a flourish, bowed low. As he raised himself, his grin had disappeared, and in its stead was a look of curious intent. And with that, he leapt over the parapet of the bridge into the mist.

 

It took the young man some little time to come to himself and stared slack jawed at the spot from which the tall figure had leapt. He eventually managed to wander over to the bridge’s edge and tentatively peered over the ledge.  The mist clung to the water, and no sign was there at all of the leering tall man. The young man began to walk away, slowly at first, before finding in himself the matter to run - this he did until he could run no further and dawn had well and truly risen.

 

Curiously, whenever afterwards this man crossed Pont Brenig, which was not for some time subsequent to his fright, he would find small offerings of money or other valuables. Why so, he never discovered - but he became quite wealthy as a consequence.

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

E. Owen, Welsh Folk-Lore: A collection of folk-tales and legends of North Wales, Oswestry & Wrexham, (1896)

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