Lake District 2013: Slater’s Bridge Walk

Sometimes you think you’ve got a place sussed out. You’re pretty sure you know the lay of the land and what it might throw at you. I’ll admit I didn’t exactly expect the house to be struck by lightning but I knew we’d get a little rain, even in the middle of a heatwave. I did not, however, expect half the things I saw on this walk.
I’m not certain of the route’s actual name as we didn’t get our hands on an OS map to find out if there was one so I’ve christened it the Slater’s Bridge walk, so named for the bridge we crossed.

The walk begins in Little Langdale, where we were staying in a rented cottage. Turning left off the main road will get you to the start of the footpath, where you’ll join a flock of sheep (which sensibly kept their distance each time we charged into their territory with a yappy dog). There’s a bit of an incline until you exit the field and then it’s a slow wind down to the river and Slater’s Bridge. 

Lexi gets her toes wet
Greg informed me that the bridge is held up by one metal rod which didn’t really make me feel confident in the structure but it held us all up regardless. We only got wet by choice when we decided to go for a swim in ‘Robbie’s Hole’, where the river widens. As you can imagine, the innuendos were both horrific and hilarious.
Trivia fact: this was actually the first time I’d swum in a river.
Spoiling the incredible scenery with my chic ‘drowned rat’ look (Gentlemen, please form an orderly queue)
Crossing over Slater’s Bridge and hopping over a stile will bring you to another field. Follow the path carefully, because the river makes part of the field a little swampish in places. Exit at the gate and follow the tarmaced road left, passing through the next gate until you come to a split in the road.

One path will take you higher once you get through yet another gate. Follow it onto the top of some slate piles until the air gets remarkably cool. You’ll come to the mouth of a cave. Water may pool around the entrance and in the tunnel but enter and you’ll be greeted with this.

This photograph doesn’t do Cathedral Quarry/Dragon’s Cave half the justice it deserves. The atmosphere inside is incredible; you’re overcome by a numinous feeling. It’s hard to believe that the cave is manmade when it looks so natural.

Towards the far side of the cave – and you can just make it out in the photo – is an enormously deep murky pool. Apparently they’ve tried to measure how deep by diving but the water was so murky it was inconclusive. All I know for sure is that there’s an entire tree submerged in it. And little fishies.

The quarry is sometimes known as Dragon’s Cave because of a little folk legend. According to the tale, a dragon that was being hunted crawled in through the window and laid an egg. It was later crushed by some slate (and lies beneath the rubble on the right) but the egg was left in the open. Unable to hatch without its mother’s warmth, it pushed down into the ground and formed the pool.

There’s another entrance to the cave close to the pool which can’t be mistaken as anything but a quarry. If you’re feeling daring you can climb up more rubble and get to the window of the cave.

Greg, Jamie and Carolyn look in on Kate, Lexi and I.

When you’ve cooled off inside the cave, you can either go left back the way you came to join the other road or continue right, heading down a more challenging (i.e. fun) route, using tree roots and rocks as steps. Climb down off the wall and go right until you get to the ford.

There’s a bridge going over but if you’re feeling adventurous, try the stepping stones…

Follow the road along and you’ll end up back at Little Langdale’s main street. You can hit the Three Shires Inn for a refreshing pint or some hearty grub, or if you were us, head back to the house and have a pretty successful barbecue.
I had an incredible week up in the Lake District and honestly cannot wait to get back there next summer and it’s largely because of this walk.
The Lake District 2013
Part One | Part Two

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