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Slater’s Bridge Lake District was an amazing and unexpected find on my recent visit to Cumbria.
It’s an ancient pedestrian crossing and packhorse bridge made of slate that allowed workers to traverse the River Brathay. They would cross over to access slate quarries like Little Langdale and Hodge Close.
Today, many people cross this curious bridge to access the Cathedral Cave and it makes a fabulous photography location.
Here is how to find the Slater’s Bridge Lake District, an ancient pedestrian crossing and surprise view!
Slater’s Bridge history
The Slater’s Bridge is a 17th century packhorse bridge that spans the River Brathay and is just a short walk from Little Langdale.
It’s made completely of slate and has a segmental arch that measures 15 feet. It is thought to have been created by miners working in Tilberwaithe Fells.
It stands at an intersection of packhorse routes that would travel from slate quarries like Little Langdale and Hodge Close to Ravenglass and the Cumbrian Coast.
The area of Little Langdale was industrialised since the 16th century but it reached its peak in the 19th century with a demand for more housing.
Slate quarrying was discontinued in the 1950s but the bridge became a Grade II listed building in 1967.
Today, this ancient slate bridge still remains and is crossed over by thousands of ramblers every year who are exploring Langdale Valley and wanting to find the Cathedral Cave.
How to visit the Slater’s Bridge Lake District
The Slater’s Bridge is located in the Langdale Valley and is nearest to the quaint village of Little Langdale.
You cannot drive directly to the Slater’s Bridge but you’ll find the bridge on a short walk from Little Langdale village over the River Brathay.
Slater’s Bridge parking
There are a couple of places that you can park to find the Slater’s Bridge in the Lake District.
You can organise to visit as part of a longer walk from Tilberwaithe or Hodge Close. But, if you just wanted to visit the bridge the easiest is to park in Little Langdale.
This is a tiny hamlet with limited parking places and narrow roads. But, there is a place to park on Side Gates. This is just a short walk away from The Three Shire’s Inn pub.
Slater’s Bridge postcode is LA22 9NY for the Side Gates parking area. Or, click here for a Google Pin!
Slater’s Bridge directions
Finding the Slater’s Bridge from Little Langdale is quite easy as there are signs for it in the village. Here is a Google Pin for the bridge.
Below are some directions to help you locate it from Side Gates parking in Little Langdale;
- From Side Gates in Little Langdale Head to the Three Shires Inn
- Continue on and turn left at the road turning for Fitz Steps (marked Tilberwaithe not suitable for vehicles)
- Carry on down Fitz Steps until you see a sign for Slater’s Bridge
- Walk through the gate and over the hill
- You’ll eventually see the Slater’s Bridge over the River Brathay!
What to expect at the Slater’s Bridge Lake District
When you approach the Slater’s Bridge from Little Langdale, you’ll notice that the crossing is very narrow. Firstly, you’ll step over some long slate slabs that lead you over to the ancient bridge.
The bridge is very cobbly and uneven but easy enough to cross. There is a metal bar to hold onto if it’s wet because it can get slippy in the rain.
Although a bit awkward, it was super fun to walk over and I loved to think just how many people have crossed this bridge over the centuries!
The best view of the Slater’s Bridge is from the opposite side of Little Langdale. So, make sure you cross over and turn back to get some nice photos.
Just note that to cross over the Slater’s Bridge to Cathedral Cave there is a rather awkward wall style you have to traverse. It has a slate ladder with a very small gap in the opening!
Dogs must also be kept on a lead in the field leading from Little Langdale village to the bridge as there is wildlife grazing in the fields.
Slater’s Bridge photography
As well as being an incredibly historic place to visit in the Lake District, the Slater’s Bridge is also a breathtaking photography location.
After you cross over the bridge towards the Little Langdale quarries, you can turn back and see the Slater’s Bridge reflected in the River Brathay with the peaks of Langdale Valley in the backdrop.
It truly is stunning and when I visited at sunset the warm colours reflected in the water here were stunning. Definitely a surprise view you won’t want to miss in Cumbria!
Carry on to the Cathedral Cave
Most people happen to come across the Slater’s Bridge as a nice surprise while heading over to the Cathedral Cave.
This is a disused Slate Quarry that dates back to the 16th century and was used on a major scale in the 19th century to extract slate for housing.
It was even owned by Beatrix Potter before she gifted it to the National Trust who continued to quarry under lease until the 1950s.
Today, the main chamber of this quarry has the nickname ‘The Cathedral’ as its forty feet high and is suspended by a huge pillar. It’s also lit by two ‘windows’.
You can visit this spectacular cave from the Slater’s Bridge as the entrance is just nearby. The cave system has lots of interlinking tunnels and caverns to explore. It’s free to visit and worth a look.
Where to next?
If you want more of an adventure, you can extend your walk from the Slater’s Bridge to visit Hodge Close Quarry. This is another disused slate quarry that has a lagoon and a skull cave!
It’s nicknamed Britain’s scariest cave as there is a reflection of a skull in the lagoon below. The inside also looks like you’re inside a giant skull.
This has recently become popular as it’s a Netflix’s The Witcher filming location.
You can also head over to Blea Tarn from the Slater’s Bridge which is a gorgeous lake surrounded by the Langdale Pikes. It’s owned by the National Trust and it has an easy circular walk there.
As the walks to either Blea Tarn or Hodge Close Quarry are not clearly signposted from Little Langdale it’s best to take an OS Map and compass and/or download maps.me before you go.
Looking for more things to do in Little Langdale?
Little Langdale is a picturesque hamlet in the Lake District. It’s tucked away in the remote Langdale Valley and there is countryside and peaks all around you.
On your drive over to Little Langdale, you’ll probably come across one of the most picturesque views in the Lake District from Damson View!
On your way back from the Cathedral Cave, I would highly recommend stopping inside the Three Shire’s Inn for some lunch or dinner.
If you head to Great Langdale, you can visit Stickle Ghyll. You can park up at National Trust’s Stickbarn and the Langdales pub to explore more of this area just down the road.
There is also Yew Tree Cottage, Ambleside, Coniston Village, Grasmere, and Rydal to explore a little further afield.