Slater Bridge, The Cathedral and Colwith Force,

Start. Elterwater.

Route. Elterwater - Dale End - Slater Bridge - The Cathedral - Stang End - High Park - Park House - Skelwith Force - Elter Water - Elterwater.

Notes. This is a walk found in the pages of most good Lakeland guide books, a classic valley round visiting a number of Lakeland attractions en route, the twin cascades of Colwith Force and the delightful Slater Bridge in Little Langdale but two. Skelwith Force welcomed me to Great Langdale, a gateway to the delightful path along the shore of Elter Water, then there was The Cathedral, a vast slate cavern honed out of Lakeland rock by the men of Little Langdale, a legacy left by the miners, a fine memorial to the hard men of rock, all ghosts now.

My day started in a very wet Elterwater, in pouring rain I crossed the bridge before turning south, a narrow tarmac lane carried me passed the Youth Hostel before reaching a narrow lane on my right, a finger-post declares “challenging alternate route to Coniston”, referring to cyclists, the sort with chunky tyres and suspension. I ascended this track through dripping woodland, passed the remains of long abandoned quarries, moss coated dry stone walls guided me to the crest of the hill where I descended into Little Langdale. After crossing the narrow valley road my descent continued, a way-marked path guided me to Slater Bridge (Slater's Bridge). Following the obligatory photo shoot I stepped into a stoney lane then turned left, with quarry spoil rising to my right, the River Brathay on my left I wandered on. After passing through a wooden gate, a gate and stile on the right allowed access to a track rising above the quarry spoil. This is a path into another dimension, a doorway back in time, a window into the lost world of a dead industry, I made the short ascent to be greeted by a dark passage, I entered The Cathedral.

Having had my fill I re-traced my steps to the gate and stile to continue following the stoney track. After Passing Stang End Farm with it's spinning gallery I reached High Park, a gate allowed access to the farm yard then another into fields, a short walk over grass saw me step into the woods above Colwith Force, I descended to the river to enjoy the delights of the twin cascades. From the fall it was a short walk to the Little Langdale road, a short stroll east over tarmac and I was again wandering through pastures, ascending to Low Park and Park Farm. After passing Park House I left the track, an excellent path conveyed me through woodland on the short descent to Skelwith Force, although not as spectacular as Colwith Force ease of access makes this thundering torrent very popular, this was the first time today I was in company. I crossed the river on a splendid foot bridge to start the walk back to Elterwater, on a busy well trod path I wandered up the banks of the river, strolled along the wooded west shore of Elter Water before reaching the village.

view route map.


Loughrigg Fell seen from the lane leading out of Elterwater.

At the top of the short ascent from Elterwater, this wonderful view of Greenburn bursts upon the senses.

Moody views between the farm buildings at Dale End.

Seen through diffused light and driving rain Black Fell rises above Wilson Place.

Little Langdale Tarn, as Lakeland tarns go this is my least favourite, although it does sit in a delectable setting.

The view above Little Langdale, Greenburn, to the right the Wrynose Pass.

Slater Bridge one of Lakeland's hidden gems, built sometime between 1650 and 1750 by the slate miners of Little Langdale, whom needed to gain access to the vast mines of Tilberthwaite with dry feet.

Testament to years of heavy footfall, the slate slabs warn by tens of thousands of pairs of hob nail boots.

The Cathedral Quarry, a vast network of slate mines interlinked by tunnels and passage ways, the highlight this 40ft stone pillar reflected in a deep pool in the main chamber.

Seen from near High Park the Blake Rigg face of Pike of Blisco and the slopes of Lingmoor Fell.

Spectacular views over High Park, Lingmoor Fell with Bow Fell under a light dusting of snow.

The River Brathay above Colwith Force.

Draining the mires of Little Langdale the River Brathay plunges over Colwith Force.

Seen from a different angle this 40ft twin cascade's a delight after heavy weather.

Views from the fields near Low Park.

Through the trees Loughrigg Fell.

Views taken over Little Langdale, the notch on the skyline being the Wrynose Pass flanked by Wet Side Edge and Pike of Blisco.

Wetherlam head in cloud, lurks behind Moss Rigg Wood.

Skelwith Force at just 17ft not the highest of today's waterfalls, but with the combined waters of the Brathay and Great Langdale Beck forced into a narrow gorge it's quite spectacular.

Dominating the walk back to Elterwater, the Langdale Pikes.

Seen from the banks of the River Brathay, under a light dusting of snow Wetherlam.

The Langdale Pikes looking imposing across Elter Water.

On the shore of Elter Water with a panorama made up of Lingmoor Fell and the Langdale Pikes.

Elterwater village dominated by Raven Crag and Dow Bank.

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