#ShortWrytz : The house by the river

(One of the many intact and restored 18th century stone houses in Kirkby Lonsdale)

We’re often in Kirkby Lonsdale. It’s the perfect dog-walk for Tess, our collie, who loves to chase the ball in its riverside park, then sniff her way along the riverbank as we enter the town by the steep steps that lead to one of the best views in the county – Ruskin’s View.

This part of the Lune Valley was a favourite haunt of the artist Turner who famously painted this view.

(Above: Ruskin’s View across the River Lune)

The town is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and used to be the only river crossing of the River Lune for miles around, making it an important meeting point and marketplace. The market charter was granted in the 13th century.

The history of the town is written in its buildings, which date back to medieval times. The old river crossing ‘Devil’s Bridge’ being the best example.

(Above: Devil’s Bridge, supposedly named because the church refused to pay for its construction)

The majority of its 17th and 18th century buildings still stand, making a walk through the town like being on the set of a Jane Austen novel.

(Above: Mill Brow – the start of the descent towards the River Lune. Very steep!)

The town was a finalist for the High Street of the Year Award in 2016. Kirkby Lonsdale was voted as the ‘Best Place to Live in The North West’ in 2019

(Above: Kirkby Lonsdale’s beautiful High Street)

My favourite building is the Old Mill at the end of the Mill Brow descent. Devastated by the floods of 2015, the owners rolled up their sleeves, wrung out the carpets and started again. I always have to stop and photograph it, each mood is different. It’s located between the river and the sheer wall of the plateau on which the town is built, so the merciless river rises straight into its driveway when it floods.

Somehow, its the perfect symbol of everything that’s good about Kirkby Lonsdale – authentic and enduring. There’s a new multi-million pound house next door. The new house is beautifully designed, but the old mill exudes character by comparison.

(Above: my favourite house in Kirkby Lonsdale – the old mill. The brightly coloured camper van added that special extra touch

I expect I’ll go on photographing it whenever the light or the season changes.

(Above: Tess loves the river, though she is happier chasing balls in the shallows than swimming)

The River Lune, here, is also beautiful. Always different- sometimes very violently. It’s a place you can stand and marvel that so much liquid can flow past without ripping the world apart.

It’s great to photograph in black and white, too – particularly close-ups.

(Above: the river lends itself to some powerful abstract images)

©Stephen Tanham, 2020

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.