Classic Elter Water.

Start. Elterwater.

Route. Elterwater - The Eltermere Inn - Dale End - Slater Bridge - The Cathedral - Stang End - Hodge Close - The Dubs - Little Fell - High Park - Colwith Force - Park Farm - Park House - Skelwith Force - Elter Water - Elterwater.

Notes. What's happened to cold crisp mornings, scraping ice from the car windscreen before heading for the high fells, knowing you were embarking on a wonderful day out. Today the wet stuff was falling as I slung my gear into the boot of the car, the sun had yet to rise if it ever did, I'd been promised a weather window so was out to make the best of it. A Lakeland classic, a perfect rainy day ramble, a walk found in most decent guide books, an excursion I've done many times and will probably do many more. In your guide book it's probably billed as A Round of Elter Water or words to that effect, well here's my spin on this popular walk with a couple of gems thrown in.

Under leaden skies the grey slate buildings of Elterwater looked sombre as I left the village, I crossed the bridge following the lane to the left, opposite Eltermere Inn a finger-post invited me to Coniston, I obliged ascending a stoney bridleway, this ankle breaker of a path guided me into Little Langdale, depositing me in the lane opposite the path descending to Slater Bridge. A Lakeland gem spanning the infant River Brathay, built by the quarry men of Little Langdale sometime between 1650-1750, I guess they were sick of getting wet feet on their journey to and from work, I'm certain they didn't realise what a tourist attraction they'd created. I crossed said bridge before stepping into a stoney lane, a few hundred yards along this lane a stile next to a gate with many pad locks allowed access to a steep incline, at the top of the slope, a dark tunnel, the entrance to The Cathedral.

I've been in this cavern many times but this time felt a little different, my nerves were on edge as I wandered round this vast slate cave, I took some pictures, marveled at the 40ft high pillar supporting the roof, at this point I heard footsteps splashing through the puddles in the entrance tunnel, I turned to greet a fellow walker, imagine my surprise when there was nobody there, yes my heart skipped a beat to say the least. Gripped by cold sweats I edged across the floor to get a better view down the tunnel, it was a bloody sheep, relieved I left following the stray ewe into daylight. I stood on the slate shelf at the entrance soaking up views over Little Langdale, the ewe a few yards away, again foot steps echoed from the cavern, we looked at each other then went our separate ways. Was it my imagination, who knows, but having read this I bet when you brave The Cathedral your nerves will be just a little on edge.

From The Cathedral the lane guided me to Stang End to be greeted by a finger-post announcing, "¾ of a mile to Hodge Close". Well worth a visit, this vast hole plays host to climbers and scuba divers, 300ft deep, 150ft above water the same below, a maze of water filled passages link underground caverns, many lives have been lost but still the divers come. I marveled in awe at the vast hole cut by the callas hands of the Tilberthwaite quarry men. Visit over I re-traced my steps to a path I'd passed on the short walk in, said path guided me over The Dubs and Little Fell before descending to High Park. Here I accessed a path that ushered me through woodland of birch, oak and pine to the twin cascades of Colwith Force. The river was in spate a cauldron of bubbling water, noise and spray, an impressive sight, one not to be missed. I wandered on, crossing the Little Langdale road to join way-marked paths that were to guide me passed a number of farms before descending through the woodland guarding Skelwith Force, a thundering curtain of water welcomed me, another bubbling cauldron of noise and spray, one you can get close and personal with, take care. From this rocky gorge where Great Langdale Beck makes a bid for lower pastures I wandered along the Elter Water shore path, easy walking back to Elterwater the Cumbria Way under foot.

view route map.


Walking to Dale End above Little Langdale, viewing Black Fell above the tree tops of Fletcher's Wood.

From the stoney track linking Elterwater to Little Langdale my first view of Elter Water, it will be a while before I get another.

The high ground between me and Red Screes on the skyline is Loughrigg Fell.

The saw tooth skyline of Black Fell.

Approaching Dale End looking to Great Intake and Knotts scarred by hands of the Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale quarry men, under cloud mighty Wetherlam.

Backed by the Greenburn valley Little Langdale Tarn.

Slater Bridge spans the infant River Brathay, the first page in the book on industrial history of Little Langdale and Tilberthwaite.

Dare you brave The Cathedral, don't miss it or you'll have me to answer to.

In sunlight and shade Knotts.

Trapped in time Hodge Close, a memorial to a past way of life, the mine fell silent in 1924, now a play ground for climbers and experienced divers.

Views across the quarry spoil in the Tilberthwaite valley to the abandoned workings on the flanks of Knotts.

The ghosts of a past industry stand forever in the shadow of Lingmoor Fell.

Moody skies over Little Fell.

Another view to the mine workings on Knotts.

The Dubs looking to Great How.

Near High Park looking across Little Langdale to Lingmoor Fell.

The River Brathay above Colwith Force.

Hidden deep in the woods, awesome today the twin cataracts of Colwith Force.

Skelwith Force, at a mere 17ft not the highest water fall in the region....

....but with the combined waters of Great Langdale Beck and the River Brathay forced through this narrow gap in the bedrock it makes for a spectacular sight.

Elter Water with the Langdale Pikes under a thick blanket of cloud.

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