Dyfi River Crossings.

Geraldus Cambrensis crossed by boat to Aberdyfi in the 1200s; the squires of Ynysmaengwyn had a lease on the Dyfi Ferry from at least the 1400s; the first Dyfi Bridge at Machynlleth was built in 1533, replacing an existing ford, and Saxton's map of the mid-1600s shows it to be one of only two bridges crossing the river at that time - the other being Pont Minllyn. John Ogilby's linear map in Britannia: Volume 1 of an Illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales (1675), includes at one point the warning: "To Mahunleh over the river a dangerous passage". However, the 1891 Ordnance Survey map is the earliest I've managed to find so far that shows all of the Dyfi crossings, large and small, from source to estuary - and the rest of this section takes a look at these.

The establishment of the turnpike roads in the late 1700s, the building of major new roads in 1821-27, the development of the stage coach system, and the coming of the railway in 1862-67 would all have had major effects on travel in the valley, but the transport revolution of the 20th Century was to change things for ever. Here's my interpretation:

Using the 1891 map as my reference point, and comparing this with the 1903/1904 and modern day OS maps, a trend emerges which reflects the way that life has changed in the area since the coming of motorised transport. The demands for improved links across the river must have led to new roadbridges being built at strategic points to carry the extra traffic where before there existed only a ford or footbridge. Muddy or dusty tracks - depending upon the season - were in many cases upgraded to metalled roads and in one instance, near Mathafarn, a brand new road and the Jubilee Bridge were built in late Victorian times where before there wasn't any kind of river crossing or even a footpath. The result of these improvements would have been to drastically reduce travel times across and along the valley.

With these upgrades in place, many local fords and footbridges would inevitably have fallen into disuse, although other crossings were retained and improved. For example, the stepping stones at Llanerch/Rhyd-y-Moch have been replaced by a private road bridge (to keep the moch trotters dry?). As the travel time by road between Dyfi Bridge and all points downstream decreased, so the need for the ferries must have diminished, but it's still a considerable trip to get from Aberdyfi to Ynyslas - just a mile away as the crow flies, but 23 miles by road.

The two local railways vanished, along with their river crossings, as the slate industry declined - although the main line still hangs on by the skin of its teeth and crosses the river near Dyfi Junction. (A plan in 1861 to build a railway bridge across the estuary was abandoned in 1865.) The Corris Railway is now being redeveloped as a tourist attraction, but its Dyfi crossing was dismantled in 1949, to be replaced recently by an ultra-modern leisure-related cycle/footbridge, Pont Mileniwm, which is on the National Cycle Network. It seems that following a decline in the number of footbridges, these are on the increase again, as tourism brings cyclists and walkers to the area.

The busiest road crossings today are at Machynlleth's Dyfi Bridge and at Minllyn, near Dinas Mawddwy. The ancient packhorse bridge, Pont Minllyn, is still there (as is its stone-arched replacement), well-hidden from traffic speeding across the modern road bridge right next to it and, although it looks very fragile, Pont Minllyn is in a good state of preservation - as long as nobody tries to use it.

Comparing the OS maps mentioned above, this is how the number of ferries/bridges/fords, etc., change over the years:

Date of Map Ferries Fords Footbridges Road Bridges Railway Bridges Total Crossings
1891 2 19 + 1 set
of stepping stones.
9 5 + 1 disused
packhorse bridge.
3 40
1903/1904 2 Poss 15 Poss 4 or 5 6 + 1 disused packhorse bridge. 3 31-32
Modern Maps 0 4 5 or 6 12 + 1 disused
packhorse bridge and 1 disused road bridge.
1 24-25

And for those of you who've made it this far, the following table lists every crossing on the river, in excruciating and tedious detail:

 Location  Map Ref Type of Crossing 1891 Map 1904 Map Modern Map Notes
 Aberdyfi  613956  Ferry  Yes  Yes  No Mentioned as early as the 1200s. The lowest ferry on river, this direct Aberdyfi -Ynyslas link saved a 23 mile detour via Dyfi Bridge. There was still a ferry in 1912, and it was marked as such on a 1966 OS map. The Refuge on Cerrig-y-Penrhyn has now gone.
Glandyfi  693969  Ferry  Yes  No  No Connected footpaths from Pennal and Ynys farm on the North bank to Glandyfi.
 Garreg  695972  Ford  Yes Yes  No  Connected footpaths from Pennal and Ynys farm on North bank to Garreg/ Glandyfi. A major crossing point, and anecdotal evidence of cattle using this point to cross within living memory. It was the lowest ford on the river, which is still tidal at this point.
 Dyfi Junction  695979  Railway Bridge  Yes Yes  Yes A trestle bridge built about 1863, it carries the coastal line to Aberdyfi. Originally included a drawbridge to allow ships to pass through, but the last recorded opening was in 1890. The drawbridge was replaced by a fixed section in 1910, so putting paid to any shipping above this point.
 Derwenlas  718994  Ferry  No Yes  No Crossed from Cei Ward to the North bank, where a footpath leads to Llugwy in one direction and Dolgelynen in the other. Highest ferry on (still tidal) river.
 Machynlleth/Dyfi Bridge  744019  Road Bridge  Yes Yes   Yes Carries today's A487 over the river, where it is met by the A493 from Aberdyfi. First road bridge upstream from estuary, and still the main crossing point for heavy vehicles. First built 1533, this one dates from 1805.
 Machynlleth/Ffridd 749020    Railway Bridge Yes    Yes  No Carried the Corris Railway over the river near Ffridd Gate. Originally a wooden trestle bridge, but in 1906 replaced by a metal girder bridge carried on stone piers. Railway closed in 1948 and bridge dismantled in 1949.
    Machynlleth/Pont Mileniwm   749020 Footbridge No No Yes Crosses river near Ffridd Gate. Built 2000 and forms part of the National Cycle Network. Lowest point of the river crossed by a footbridge.
  Aberffrydlan  780026  Ford  Yes  No  No, but shown on 1954 map. Aberfrydlan to Pwll Glas. Footpath still there. John Ogilby's linear map in Britannia: Volume 1 of an Illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales (1675), includes the warning: "To Mahunleh over the river a dangerous passage".
nr Abergwydol  791031  Ford No No No, but shown on 1954 map. Linked Abergwydol to Llanwrin.
 Nr Coed Ddôl  798035  Ford  Yes  No  No Linked footpath nr Coed-Ddôl on North bank to footpath joining main road on South bank.
 Pen-y-Bont  803038  Footbridge?  Yes  No  No Unclear on map. Linked footpath that followed North Bank with Pen-y-Bont on South bank.
 Pen-y-Bont  805038  Ford  Yes  Yes  No, but shown on 1954 map. Connected a footpath and track from Mathafarn to Pen-y-Bont on South bank.
      nr Mathafarn 809043 Road Bridge No Yes Yes Carries B4044, linking Cemmaes Road with Llanwrin on North bank. The new road and Jubilee Bridge must have been built on or around one of Queen Victoria's jubilee years, 1887 or 1897. I recall the bridge as being of single tied arch construction and always painted green in the 1960s. At a later stage it became unsafe, and was temporarily replaced by a Bailey Bridge, until funds could be found for the permanent structure you can see here today.
      Cemmaes Road 817046 Ford Yes Yes No, but shown on 1954 map. Linked a track from Cemmaes Road to a minor road on North bank.
    Rhyd-y-Gwiail 831055  Ford  Yes No No
Connected North bank near Rhyd-y-Gwiail with footpath to Cemmaes.
Rhyd = Ford.
Gwiail = Rods or Switches.
       Cemmaes Bychan 833059 Ford Yes No No, but shown on 1954 map. Crossed river between Rhyd-y-Gwiail and Cemmaes.
  Cemmaes/Bont Rhyd-y-Gwiail  834062  Footbridge



Road Bridge
Yes



No
 Yes



No 
No, but shown on 1954 map.
Yes
Metal bailey bridge, dated 1961. Connects Cemmaes with minor road on North bank.
       Cemmaes 836062 Railway Bridge Yes Yes No Carried Mawddwy Railway 1856-1951.
       Cemmaes School 841065 Ford Yes Yes No, but shown on 1954 map. Footpath linking minor roads on both banks.
     Cwm Llinau 844077 Ford  Yes  Yes No, but shown on 1954 map. Connected path from Cwm Llinau with minor road on North bank. Bridle path still approaches from Cwm Llinau, but doesn't continue on North bank.
      Cwm Llinau/Ty'n Llechwedd/Ty'n y Rhos 843080 Ford Yes Not marked  Yes Bridle path, still there, connects A470 on South bank to minor road on North bank.
       Dolcorsllwyn Hall 843090 Ford Yes Yes Yes Bridle path, still there, connects A470 on South bank to minor road on North bank.
  Aberangell  847097  Road Bridge Yes Yes    Yes Pont Walton. Carries minor road between A470 on South bank and Aberangell on North bank.
  Gwastadgoed   851104  Ford Yes Yes    No Linked footpath from Gwastadgoed with minor road on South bank.
 Mallwyd/Pont Mallwyd  857122  Road Bridge  Yes Yes    Yes Carries minor road which joins crossroads at Mallwyd with minor road on North bank.
  Minllyn/Pont Minllyn   860139  Packhorse Bridge  Yes  Yes Yes Built in early 1600s and long disused.
  Minllyn/Pont y Ffinnant   860139  Road Bridge  Yes Yes No  Disused road bridge; single arch stone construction. (Old Painting.)
Minllyn 860139 Road
Bridge
No No Yes Modern metal girder/concrete construction. Carries the A470 to Dolgellau.
  Dinas Mawddwy  861149  Footbridge  Yes  Not marked Yes Carries footpath which joins bridle path to Tan-y-Bwlch and beyond.
 Dinas Mawddwy  861149  Ford  Yes  Yes  Yes Carries bridle path from minor road on North bank to Tan-y-Bwlch and beyond on South bank. A further footbridge is shown just upriver on a 1900 larger scale map. Bridle path shown on modern map. 
  Abercywarch  868157  Ford
Footbridge
 No
No
Yes
No
No
Yes 
Links minor road on North bank to footpaths on South bank leading to Ty Gwyn and Tan-y-Bwlch
  Abercywarch/Ty Gwyn   872157 Ford
Roadbridge
 Yes
No
Yes
No  
 No
Yes
Links minor roads on both banks. Road Bridge has metal railings.
  nr Ty'n y Coed   878159   Footbridge  Yes No    No Footpath from Ty'n-y-Coed to minor road/footpath on South bank.
 Llanerch  886163  Stepping Stones
Road
Bridge
(Private)
 Yes

No
 No

No
No

Yes
Footpath from Llanerch. No footpath shown on modern map. Just downriver of here is a bank called Rhyd-y-Moch = Ford of the Pigs.
  Efail-fach   891167  Ford  Yes  Yes  Yes Links minor roads, North and South of the river.
  Efail-fach   892167  Footbridge  Yes  Not marked  Yes Links minor roads, North and South of the river.
 Erw-garegog   894177  Footbridge
Ford
Roadbridge
 Yes
Yes
No
 No
Yes
No
 No
No
Yes
Links minor roads, North and South of the river.
Stone Road Bridge replaced Footbridge and Ford.
 Llanymawddwy/Coed Cae  897182  Footbridge
Roadbridge
 Yes
No
 No
No
No
Yes
Footpath from minor road on North bank to Coed Cae. Modern map shows footpath has been upgraded to a minor road, with a roadbridge.
  Llanymawddwy   907191  Ford
Footbridge
Bridge
 Yes
Yes
No
 No
Poss
Yes
 No
No
Yes
Footpath from minor road near Llanymawddwy to Wern-gau on South bank. Modern map shows footpath is now a track.
  Bryn Hall  908194  Ford
Footbridge
Roadbridge
 Yes
Yes
No
 Yes
No
No
 No
No
Yes
Links minor roads on North bank with track/footpath on opposite bank.
Replaced Ford and Footbridge.
 Pont-y-Pennant  905202  Road Bridge  Yes  Yes Yes   Crossing point for minor road. Highest road bridge on the river.
  Ty Canol  904208  Ford  Yes  Poss  No Footpath from Ty Canol to Pen-y-Geulan(?). Footpath and ford have disappeared from modern map. Was the highest ford on the river.
  Rhiw March  901214  Footbridge  No  No  Yes Carries footpath over the river. Highest footbridge on the river.

There's one more "crossing", and that's the Gauging Station near Dyfi Bridge, used to measure the flow of water in the river, and part of a network of such stations in the UK.

See: http://www.nwl.ac.uk/ih/nrfa/station_summaries/064/001.html

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