Hodge Close quarry and caves is certainly an adventure, for young and old alike! A couple of miles north of Coniston, you can park for free at GR 315017 on OS map OL7.
Hodge Close offers some amazing views of its massive water filled cavern, from both the top and bottom. You can access the cavern at the bottom and have a proper explore of the caves. If you simply do an out and back to the cave, from the car park, it’s less than 0.75 miles in total.
Before you read any further, there are a LOT of warning signs and roped off areas around Hodge Close, due to sudden vertical drop offs and loose rocks etc. Please ensure the safety of yourself and all those in your group, and visit at your own risk. A friend of mine who is a mountain leader does not recommend visiting as the site is unstable.
Start the walk by heading north east, on the road. This in itself was huge fun for the kids, who climbed on all the massive boulders! The road bends to the right and then left at the houses. Shortly you will see a wooden footpath sign on the right side of the road, turn right, following the sign towards High Oxen fell (although you’re not walking that far!).
After only about 20 metres, you’ll see a gap in the fence on your right, and here is where the path down to the cave begins. If you get as far as the gate across the track, you’ve gone too far. See the pictures below for more detailed map.
The path descends quite steeply initially, and then levels out as you approach the lower part of the cavern. You enter the cave from the back, and as you pass through, you will see two giant holes which look out onto the water. There is some old quarry machinery and plenty to explore in the caves.
Return back the way you came. If you wish to view the quarry from the top, walk back towards the car park, and enter through a gap in the fence on the left. Be extremely careful of the sheer drops. We didn’t let our kids into this bit, I just nipped in to take a photo.
There are other quarries very close by, with lots of rocks, scree slopes, old machinery and mostly inaccessible caves, however there are signs saying “do not enter”, so it’s at your discretion if you wish to explore further. It is not recommended.
If you fancy a longer walk, you can easily combine this walk with a trip to Cathedral Quarry and a visit to the Three Shires Inn. Simply go the other way at the wooden signpost, following signs to Stang End. At Stang End, turn left and follow the path to the caves at Cathedral Quarry. The pub is across Slater Bridge in Little Langdale.
Another good walk nearby is Tilberthwaite, where there are also quarries to explore.