Spanning the River Lune to the south and east of Kirkby Lonsdale is Devil’s Bridge. This magnificent three-arched bridge, probably dates from the 12th or 13th century, and is now a scheduled ancient monument. A popular haunt for motorcycle enthusiasts who congregate at weekends in the adjoining parking area to discuss all things mechanical over a mug of hot tea and a bacon butty, Devil’s Bridge was once the only bridge over the Lune for miles and formed part of the busy west-bound route into the town.
Now closed to traffic it is a popular resting place, perfect for picnics and also start or end point for a delightful riverside walk to the north of Kirkby Lonsdale.
At the apex of the bridge, there’s a deep impression in the stone – often referred to as the devil’s handprint. The folk tale surrounding the handprint tells of an old woman who lived on the banks of the Lune with a few animals. One night her cow strayed across the river and would not be tempted back, no matter how much she coaxed and implored. The devil appeared to her, offering to build a bridge in exchange for the soul of the first body to cross it. The devil constructed the bridge with his own hands, leaving a print in the wet stone. The next day the woman met the devil at the bridge and agreed to fulfil her part of the bargain. She took a bun from her bag and threw it across the bridge, whereupon her small dog raced across to retrieve it. The devil, in a fit of rage at being outwitted, howled in anger and vanished in a cloud of brimstone.
To hear a fun audio version of the Devil's Bridge myth, please click here.