Cathedral Quarry

On a visit to Colwith its worth exploring some of the Lake District’s rich slate mining heritage which dates back to the 12th century. Although slate mining still continues in the Lakes, with Honister Mine in Borrowdale still producing the famous Westmorland Green Slate today, it is much more common for visitors to encounter the haunting features of this bygone industry in the landscape.

Colwith is perfectly situated as a base for exploring one such relic of the Lake District’s industrial heritage; Catherdral Quarry in Little Langdale. This is a network of small inter-linkes quarries, the main attraction of which is the aptly named Cathedral Cave, a Gollum-cave of sheer rock, lit by a shaft light which illuminates the impressive architechtural features and dark, still water of the pool at the base of the central pillar.

A National Trust sign at the entrance to the cave advises that you ‘enter at your own risk’. Heeding this sign, the adventurous can enter the cave through a dark tunnel cut in the rock, from which the cavern opens out dramtically. The ‘window’ in the cave’s wall is overhung with dripping greenery, and shades the mossy, wet walls green, barely piercing the cold and univiting waters of the pool, which remain dark and mysterious. A second shorter tunnel on the far side leads out into the damp, mossy quarry beyond, and a short scramble take you to a higher vantage point from which you can look down into the cave below, through the Catherdral’s ‘window’.

Most good walk books on the area contain a variation of the lovely walk which takes in the sights of Little Langdale; Elterwater, Slater’s Bridge, the cave, Blea Tarn and Colwith Force are all worth exploring. Happy adventuring!