Whilst we don't really know, it is possible that the punchbowl (aka Devil's cauldron) might have served as inspiration for Shakespeare's famous poem of the three witches in Macbeth. We do know that another William (Wordsworth) did visit this place and was inspired to write a poem about it called 'To the torrent at Devil's bridge'.
As with every peculiar name, this too has a legend behind it. The story goes that an old lady tricked the devil himself into building the first bridge across a treacherous gorge, so that she could rescue her cow which had strayed to the other side!
However, what we have today are three bridges, one on top of the other, with the first one dating back to presumably 1075-1200 A.D. ( the one the devil is purported to have built). A more erudite explanation, however, opines that it was the work of monks then living in a now bygone abbey called Strata Florida or 'valley of flowers'. Indeed, the river that runs through is called the Mynach meaning 'monk' in Welsh. The picture below gives a ground perspective of these bridges.
The 3 bridges from the punch bowl side of things !
The punchbowl and the waterfalls straddle these bridges on either side. Both of these make for a good, albeit steep walk. We did the more adventurous one of the falls first. The guide and posters warned us that it was a descent of around 675 uneven steps, some of them directly hewn out of the rock, while the others were manmade iron steps across the gorge itself.
With her holiday homework being ' find ways to get more active', my 10-year old was all the more determined to be one step (or in this case, 675 steps!) ahead of her classmates! It took us approximately an hour. What I loved about the route was that it had some well thought of pitstops (if you can call it that!) - a lookout point, a little cave, a bench to rest on and the like ....
The waterfalls are a torrent as reckoned by Wordsworth, but perhaps with the discovery of so many more, such features in this interesting world we live in, by today's standards, there may far more higher and forceful ones. They do make for a picturesque setting though, when seen from this lookout point.
Stretching one's legs mid way through the descent!
What I particularly liked about the descent on the waterfall side was that once we had completed it, the upward climb led us to another exit, rather than bumping into people on the way down. Following lunch, we did the punchbowl descent. Yes, that postprandial walk was indeed something to be proud of. There is a rather gradual descent on this side and not as deep as the one we had just done. The site below does indeed remind one of a giant punchbowl as the waters gush unceasingly through and flow out to the other side to become the Devil's Bridge Falls.
I understand that this place has been somewhat of a tourist attraction since Victorian days. While we did our journey by car, a steam train also services this area, with the station being Devil's bridge (of course, it would have to be!).
Just perfectly positioned at the entry/exit points of both these places, is a former hunting lodge turned hotel called the Hafod Hotel, which seems to pull the climbers into it by some kind of near magnetic force (you know that feeling when you've earned your lunch !). We too were no exception!