Kirkby's Main Street is a picturesque jumble of houses spanning several centuries, with intriguing passages and alleyways skittering off in all directions, all of them worth exploring. It's still a pleasure to stroll along the narrow streets bearing names such as Jingling Lane, I past the 16 -century weavers' cottages in Fairbank, across the Swine Market with its 600-year-old cross where traders have displayed their wares every Thursday for more than 700 years, past ancient hostelries to the even more venerable St Mary's Church with its noble Norman doorway and massive pillars. In the churchyard, a late Georgian gazebo looks across to the enchanting view of the Lune Valley as painted by Turner. The town has won the Britain in Bloom competition three times, and also attracts thousands of visitors for its Victorian Fair, held on die first full weekend in September, and again in December for the Yuletide procession through streets ablaze with coloured lights.
Ruskin had been inspired to visit the town after seeing JMW Turner's painting of that view. Turner himself had come in 1816 on the recommendation of William wordsworth. These three artists and friends made a point of going to see the Devil's Bridge over theLune — a handsome, lofty structure of three fluted arches. The Devil's Bridge was reputedly built by Satan. A local woman had asked the Devil to build her a bridge. He agreed, but demanded in return the soul of the first creature to cross. Cumbrian cunning outwitted him, however: The old woman threw a bun across the bridge for her dog to run and fetch; thus she cheated the Devil of a human soul.