“Devil’s Bridge”, Kirkby Lonsdale – this morning

by David Murray on 18 February 2011

in Bridges, Cumbria, Kirkby Lonsdale, Rivers

After setting off from Kendal following a few days in the Lake District I reached Kirkby Lonsdale on the A59 at about 9:30 this morning. At first I considered diverting to take a few photographs at “Ruskin’s View” of the River Lune at the back of the churchyard but thought maybe it would be too misty.  However, the gluttonous longing for a “bacon butty” forced me to turn left just over the Lune Bridge and stop at the mobile cafe.

My main camera and lenses were packed away for the journey home, but in my anorak pocket was my trusty Fujifilm Finepix F72EXR compact, so I decided to take it for a walk over the old Devil’s Bridge and down onto the river bank. Here is one of the products.

Devil's Bridge Kirkby Lonsdale

"Devil's Bridge", Kirkby Lonsdale

This is probably not the most impressive shot of the bridge ever taken.  The water was relatively low today,  but what especially intrigued me this morning was the debris caught up in the twiggy branches of the trees, well above my head height.  (Why didn’t I take a shot of it?)  It suddenly dawned on me what an enormous volume of water must have been surging down the Lune when recently in full flood.

There are, of course, two bridges at Kirkby Lonsdale now.  The newer road bridge (in its, to my eyes at least, ridiculous colours) is framed here in the arch of the older structure.  The old bridge, now closed to motor traffic, dates back to the fourteenth century.  Its name comes from an ancient legend that the Devil promised to build a bridge over the flooded river in exchange for the first soul to cross, but was outwitted by an old woman who threw food for a dog which was then the first to cross.

Today I came very near to witnessing another dog disaster. As I stood on the bridge a small dog came hurtling towards me and jumped up onto the wall. I froze, as did its owner, convinced that it was about to lose its balance and plummet to its death on the river bank below. Amazingly it regained its balance, jumped down and trotted off as though nothing had happened, while its audience gasped for breath. Ah well, the devil was outwitted again.  This time he didn’t even get the dog.

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