The sounds of water lapping against the rocky outcrops below drift soothingly to your ears as you traverse the Devil’s Bridge, following in the footsteps of centuries worth of travellers. Your hand trails over the stone balustrade as so many have done before. The structure may be mottled with moss and lichen, it may be weathered and worn and bearing the repairs of past years, but it strides as powerfully across the deep pools of the River Lune as it has always done. A place wreathed in folklore and superstition, tales of its origin are whispered still: have you heard the tale, carries the voice on the wind, the Devil made her a deal. The first soul to cross was the price for his handiwork but the trickster himself was tricked. It was her dog. She sent over her dog! You laugh and shake your head at ancient follies and continue on your way.
This picture was taken last year when visiting family who live near Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria. The Devil’s Bridge, built in around 1370, is one of the market town’s most famous landmarks. The story of its origin goes that an old lady’s cow had wandered away from her pasture and over the river. By the time the old lady tracked her down the river was so swollen that she couldn’t cross to fetch her back. It was at this time that the Devil appeared and offered the old lady a deal – he would build her a bridge and in return he would claim the first soul to cross. He thought that this would be either the woman or her husband, but the old lady had a plan. When the structure was built and the Devil waited to claim his prize, she drew out of her bag a small loaf of bread that she threw over the bridge. Her little dog chased after it and the Devil had to make do with an animal soul as his reward. Some versions say that he howled in rage and vanished in a cloud of brimstone; others say that he jumped from the bridge, losing his neck collar as he did so. It is said that beneath the bridge is a stone with a hole that is still known as The Devil’s Neck Collar, though I have not seen this myself.
This post is in response to Cee’s Which Way Challenge.
Colette O'Neill... Environmentalist, Author, Publisher, Photographer. Creator of Goddess Permaculture.
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