The Beggars Bridge, a high arched stone-built footbridge you may amble (or trot or caper or careen or crawl) across should you visit the village of Glaisdale in North Yorkshire. This fetching bridge also has a story, as all bridges in Yorkshire do; and it is an excellent story so pay attention here.

   In 1619 Thomas Ferries, son of a downtrodden moorland farmer, fell wildly in love with the ravishing Agnes. There were two formidable obstacles to his passion, however: the River Esk, which Thomas had to swim across in order to see her, and Agnes’ Well-To-Do and Better-Than-You father, who didn’t want him to see her anyway. I do not know the father’s name so we shall call him Lord Prissypants.

   Thomas’ visits to Agnes never went off well, since her father loathed the very sight of him; and the fact that he was sodden with river water and smelled like fish probably did not help matters either. I wouldn’t know.

  ‘My precious is far too good for the likes of you!’ Lord Prissypants would snarl, his eyes crackling with malice, as he trundled poor Agnes back into the house and left Thomas dripping despondently on the porch. Thomas was a determined sort of fellow, however, and decided he would go to sea in pursuit of his fortune.

  As his luck would have it, the river was too high to cross the night before his departure, and the luckless Tom was denied a final farewell with his sweetie and Lord Prissypants. He stamped angrily about the flooded bank and swore that upon his return he would build a bridge on that very spot. 

  Thomas Ferries did indeed make a fortune, and married an Agnes, and built the Beggar’s Bridge (that much is historical fact) so there was a lovely happy ending, tra la, tra la. There is even a short film about this romantic tale. (story details here  photo by metrisk flickr)


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