Date & Time: Wednesday 6th June 2007. 5 pm start.

Location of Start : Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 316 034 )

Places visited : Slater Bridge and Cathedral Cave

Walk details : 1.25 mls, 325 ft of ascent , 1 hrs 10 mins.

Highest point : The bar stool at 500 ft ( 150 m )

Walked with : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Sunny and blue sky, late afternoon.

The sign to the Slater Bridge footpath



Having lived here for five years now, and also having enjoyed looking at other people's photos of the Lakes too, there are places that you realise that you've never visited. Two such places are right next to each other, here in Little Langdale, and both are connected by the slate industry of old.

The second is Cathedral Cave, an underground quarry with a fine supportive pillar like Hodge Close Quarries in Tilberthwaite. The other is Slater's Bridge which is one of Lakeland's ancient pedestrian bridges. It may have been a packhorse bridge, but they must have been fairly small horses !

Both are adjacent to the River Brathay just below us in the valley.

Having "refreshed" after our early afternoon walk up Side Pike and Lingmoor we left the car at the Three Shires Inn (* see note below)

and walked the short distance down into the valley on the road marked 'Tilberthwaite - unsuitable for cars'.

Half way down is the painted wall stone indicating the start of the footpath to Slaters Bridge. This would have been the old footbridge for the quarry workers to cross the river to work at the northern Tilberthwaite Quarries opposite.

Locals in the fields on the way to the bridge - the Herdwick lambs are growing fast.

Slaters Bridge as we approached it from the down stream side.

The river crossing is in fact made up of two bridges, this one is a single, eight foot long slab of slate.

The second is a delightful stone arched bridge.

Together they make a fine river crossing, which has stood the test of time.

Ann crosses the second bridge
The well worn surface of the stones show the passage of time.

Slaters Bridge from the opposite bank as we make our way along to the quarries.

I was uncertain as to the exact location of Cathedral Cave, but an obvious looking inclined track and a give-away notice pointed to the tunnel entrance.

The entrance is not barred to walkers, but the sign does give warning of the disused quarry and unstable ground. Here Ann enters the 40 yard tunnel which would have been used in the old days for extracting the slate from within the quarry.

The famous central pillar
and the window on the outside world.

The effect as you exit the tunnel into the cave is stunning and is hardly captured by these photos. The roof must have been 50 to 60 feet high and like a rounded dome supported (off centre) by the pillar.

Beyond a relatively recent rock fall was the open sky where the quarry men of old had broken through to the back quarry.

A second tunnel led through to the back
which was open to the elements

The back quarry is the one shown on the map and the existence of the main cave is merely hinted at.

Looking back at Ann and the pillar
The rope separates off the rock fall area.

There is a shallow pool in the cave but there was no sign of fish life here today.

In it's time it has been home to goldfish but they were probably introduced and haven't survived.

Ann had disappeared from the view finder . . . only to reappear on the other side of the rock.

Ann, the light behind the pillar highlighting her white t-shirt.
A little camera flash adds texture to the back of the rock structure

These old quarries are certainly impressive places and no doubt hold a wealth of memories about the old miners.

A long wooden footbridge spans the wide river further down stream. This is where the Tilberthwaite track crosses the river.

They must be used to flooding here as the footpath back to the Three Shires Inn is raised above the valley floor level.

Ann concentrates on the elevated path
whilst my mind is on other things.

A pint of Black Sheep Ale and spoon with 57 on it ????

That was our table number for a rather nice evening meal, eaten outside in the early evening sunshine.


Update 2017:

Hi, just visited Cathedral Cave.  Thanks for the tips, and it's an amazing place.

Just wanted to let you know they don't allow parking at the Three Shires any more unless you are actually on the premises. Also, it might be handy to direct people to turn left after crossing Slaters Bridge and crossing the field, then going through the gate and taking the path up to the right.

We tried 2 other directions first! Good news - we saw some goldfish in the cave!

Gail H.



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Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon G7 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . another landmark found and another mystery solved.

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Previous walk - 6th June 2007 Side Pike and Lingmoor, and it's hot again

A similar walk in Tilberthwaite - 14th June 2004 Hodge Close Quarries and Holme Fell

Further information @

Next walk - 8th June 2007 Illgill Head and the Railway Children