A Wet Round of Elter Water.

Start. Elterwater.

Route. Elterwater - Great Langdale Beck - Elter Water - River Brathay - Skelwith Force - Skelwith Wood - Park House - Park Farm - Little Langdale Road - Atkinson's Coppice - Colwith Force - High Park - Stang End - Little Langdale Quarries - Slater Bridge - Dale End - Elterwater.

Notes. It was Boxing Day I had a chance to walk off the excesses of yesterday, at the height of the festivities I seem to have announced I was going walking whatever the weather, whatever state I was in. Sue kept me to my promise as she needed a lift in to work. All my senses screamed drive south, the better weather was that way but my heart told me in a much quieter voice the Lake District, go into the Lake District, my mother used to say “you should always follow your heart”. I dropped Sue off and continued through heavy rain over flooded roads to Elterwater. This is a simple walk, a valley walk found in most good guide books, for me it's a perfect bad weather ramble, especially when you're in the company of a hangover. Come enjoy some of the delights of Great and Little Langdale on a day the weather gods seem to have had a heavier Christmas than me.

After parking in the National Trust car park at Elterwater a good path shepherded me south, the fast flowing crystal clear waters of Great Langdale Beck my companion. It was raining but we shan't dwell on that, once passed Elter Water the waters of the River Brathay guided me to Skelwith Force. A relatively low cascade just 17ft in height, but with the combined waters of the River Brathay and Great Langdale Beck forced through a narrow fissure in the bed rock the site is quite spectacular. Spray, noise and all the other good stuff you get from a close encounter with a thundering waterfall, my senses energised, my hangover instantly washed down stream, to be collected on my way home somewhere on the shores of Windermere Lake, for now I could enjoy the rest of the day.

From Skelwith Force I doubled back to a fine footbridge, crossed the river and continued on a good path through Skelwith Wood. After escaping the tree cover into sheep pastures my route passed Park House and Park Farm before descending to join the Little Langdale Road. Here a finger-post invited me to Little Langdale and Colwith Force, I obliged taking the right hand of two paths through Atkinson's Coppice. This unassuming trod guided me passed the moss covered remains of an ancient bloomery and on to Colwith Force, a spectacular twin cascade falling 40ft in several steps, it's a noisy corner of this quiet wood well worth a visit, especially after heavy weather.

From the noise and spray of Colwith Force my route ascended through mixed woodland to access a field path that in turn deposited me at the white washed buildings of High Park, I stepped onto tarmac to start the short walk to Little Langdale Quarries. Under the slopes of Great How passed Stang End this narrow wet ribbon of tarmac ushered me, when I reached the River Brathay for the third time today the tarmac ended to be replaced by a rough track, to my left what remained of a slate stile allowed access to a stoney moss covered shelf, at the opposite end of this shelf a dark portal disappeared into the hillside, a tunnel into another world, this was the entrance to the Cathedral. A small system of interlocking quarries, best known for it's main chamber which stands 40ft in height and is lit by a window from the main quarry, I wandered in.

After a short wander round I emerged into daylight, or what passes for daylight on a grey winters day in the north west of England. After descending from the shelf it was a short hop to Slater Bridge, a real Lakeland gem, built by the quarrymen of Little Langdale sometime between 1650-1750. The path then guided me to the Little Langdale road, I crossed to access the tarmac lane leading to Dale End, from the farm it was a rough quarry track that safely ushered me back to Elterwater.

view route map.


Loughrigg Fell seen from the banks of Great Langdale Beck.

Winter conditions on the Langdale Pikes.

The scene over Elter Water.

The River Brathay with views to a cloud capped Wetherlam.

Skelwith Force where the combined waters of the River Brathay and Great Langdale Beck take a deep breath before squeezing through this narrow gap in the bed rock.

The River Brathay in Atkinson's Coppice, Colwith Force plunges 40ft in leaps and bounds from the high valley.

The moss covered remains of a bloomery (bloom forge) named after the "bloom" that was produced, a mixture of iron and slag, these iron smelting furnaces were normally powered by water.

The River Brathay above Colwith Force.

The beauty of the River Brathay in Atkinson's Coppice.

High Park backed by the Busk Pike face of Lingmoor Fell.

From the narrow ribbon of tarmac near Park Head views to Blake Rigg with Pike of Blisco under cloud.

Moss Rigg Wood seen from Stang End, under snow Wetherlam.

Views taken across Little Langdale from near the entrance to the Cathedral.

In the vast chamber of the Cathedral, this 40ft high pillar supports the roof, it's not the best shot I have ever taken in this cavern but there's lots of people milling around, feeding birds? I'm trying to keep them out of shot.

Slater Bridge across the infant River Brathay.

Little Langdale Tarn backed by Blake Rigg.

A promise of things to come, dark against the bright sky Howe Bank with the slopes of Lingmoor Fell dropping in from the left.

Greenburn under heavy weather.

A few shots before I vanish into the trees, Loughrigg Fell across Great Langdale....

....Wansfell Pike under a light dusting of snow....

....and finally a winter wonderland on Red Screes.

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