There is recorded mention of a ship anchored in the river as early as 1109, and of a ferry across the Dyfi in 1188, but the first hint of any buildings at Aberdyfi seems to date to 1569, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. A survey was carried out of the "Ports, Creeks and Landing Places on the Welsh Coast", and Aberdyfi received the comment "Devye being a Haven, and having no habitacion, but only three houses, whereunto there is no resort save only in the time of ffyshinge. There is a wonderful greate resorte of ffyshers assembled from all places in this Realm, with Ships, Boottes and Vessels...".
It had hardly grown by 1796, when it was described as "...a poor small place, consisting of a few fishermen's huts" in a book published on "A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales by J. B. jnr and W. W".
Elfrida and Braich y Celyn
There's a house just to the east of Aberdyfi called Braich y Celyn, and legend has it that a Welsh chieftain installed his daughter, Elfrida, in this house as part of his plan to fool the sea captain who had been sent to investigate his association with smuggling activities. Unfortunately, Elfrida and the sea captain fell in love, and were in the very act of being married in secret at the house when the father appeared via a secret tunnel and, in his fury, had them walled up alive. The double wall still remains, we are told, and apparently many years ago some bones and a gold ring were found in the wall. It is also said that the secret tunnel actually exists, linking Braich y Celyn with Trefri, an imposing house built down at the water's edge on the Dyfi estuary.
The Trefri Ghost
There's a story that a ghost was causing trouble at the house, as they do from time to time, and things got to such a bad state that something had to be done about it. A local man who knew about such things was called in and eventually the ghost was captured in a bottle which was taken some distance from the house and buried in a stream above Yr Hen Felin, a nearby mill, as its name suggests. Just don't you go uncorking any bottles in the vicinity, or you never know what the consequences might be.
The Ghost of the Red Tree
A man from Castell Dyfi was in the habit of sailing his boat down the river to Aberdyfi to collect household provisions, pop into The Raven public house for a few jars, and then ride the tide back upriver to Garreg. One day, somebody thought it clever to empty his boat of its pig lead ballast as a joke and, on the trip back upriver, the now-unstable boat capsized in high winds and the poor man was drowned. From that day onwards, and for well-nigh 50 years, a ghost haunted the Penhelig area of Aberdyfi, and especially a place near a particular red tree. Years later, work was starting on the building of a house called "Brynhelyg", and workmen were digging close by the red tree. They uncovered a great load of buried pig lead ballast and, strangely, the ghost was never seen again...
Now I'm not into golf, but apparently Bernard Darwin (1876-1961) is "almost univerally considered to be the greatest golf writer who ever lived", and even "the finest talent who has ever written about sports", which seems to be pushing it a bit, but who am I to argue? Certainly judging by the prices asked for his out-of-print books, he must have been quite special. I've read somewhere that his uncle (related to the Rucks of Pantlludw) laid out the original nine hole golf links in Aberdyfi using flower pots! His grandfather was Charles Darwin.
The Shepherd of Aberdyfi
19th Century poet Ceiriog (John Ceiriog Hughes, 1832-1887) is famous for writing such well-loved Welsh lyrics as Men of Harlech and David of the White Rock. He also wrote a text which was later set to music by Idris Lewis (1889-1952) as Bugail Aberdyfi - The Shepherd of Aberdyfi. It tells the tale of a foresaken shepherd calling out to his wife to forgive the pain he has caused her and to return to him and his little boy in the hills of Aberdyfi..