The Echo has been reporting how a bridge at Morton-on-Swale, on the road between Bedale and Northallerton, is regularly getting damaged.

The most recent crash has come just two months after the poor bridge was repaired after the last incident.

Strange things must happen to drivers as they approach the banks of the Swale at Morton.

There’s been a crossing of the river here since forever, the earliest reference being from 1317 when a ferryboat was rowed across. By the 1530s, a bridge had been built in wood, and by the 18th Century it had been reconstructed in stone.

Today’s bridge was built between 1800 and 1803 by Yorkshire’s greatest bridge builder, John Carr, who designed everything from Croft bridge to Aske Hall.

But the banks of the Swale at Morton have another claim to fame beyond having a John Carr bridge spanning them. They were also the subject of an ancient ballad called The Banks o’Swale o’Morton.

As autumn pour’d her teern o’good

And woe had ceased to wail,

Ah wander’d forth hard by a woode

Upon the banks o’Swale.

Our Yorkshire-accented poet, who’s not really very good, then spies a “lovely nymph” who he persuades to walk with him on the riverbanks…

But ah sall near forget that night

Whale life or memory fail,

The hours they pass’d wi’syke delight

Upon the banks o’Swale.

So smitten was he with his Morton nymph that he asked her to marry him – but she had already plighted her troth to another, although he was not a pleasant suitor…

A drinking ranting wretch wes hee

As ever was out o’hell,

She took his hand and spurned me

Far fra the banks o’Swale.

Time went by, and in later years, our poet was approached by an old unrecognisable hag who turned out to be the Morton nymph, broken by the years spent with the drinking wretch. The poet concludes:

Then ye nymphs that mak sea free

Wi’ laddies that love ale,

Ah think of her that went wi’ me

Upon the banks o’Swale.

A cautionary tale indeed.