Cathedral Quarry and Hodge Close are both family walks that we’ve enjoyed in the past. Today we decided to combine them into one 3 – 3.5 mile circular walk, that took in both caves in Little Langdale, in the south Lake District. And it was an adventure that didn’t disappoint!
The children really enjoyed scrambling over rocks, carefully crunching their way along the edges of the slate slag heaps, using their torches to get through long dark tunnels, spotting gold fish in big wet puddles, trip trapping over bridges, fording streams and discovering big caverns!
We started the walk by parking at the side of the road in Little Langdale, at grid reference 319033 on OS map OL7. We headed southwards along the footpath and over the river towards Stang End. Continuing southwards along the by-way we ended up at Hodge Close.
As you go through the first main gate into the little hamlet, take the left fork, which heads slightly uphill. Follow the path round to the right and the start of the footpath down to the cave is on your left. Take extra care on this steep and slippery section of downhill. But it’s worth it, as Hodge Close offers some amazing views of its massive water filled cavern.
Please also note, as per our previous blog warning, Hodge Close is not a stable site and should be treated with extreme caution. There are many sudden vertical drop offs, loose slippery rocks and very deep and cold water. Please ensure the safety of yourself and all those in your group at all times, visiting at your own risk.
We stopped for a picnic and some hot chocolate before returning up to the main path and then continuing westwards on a little track that begins at GR 317019. Follow this track, taking the right fork when you get a choice, until you join the bridleway. Turn right here and this will lead you down to a ford.
Don’t cross the river just yet, turn left and look for a stone stepping stile on your left after about 100 metres. A steep and slippery climb leads you up to the entrance to Cathedral Quarry caves. Enter the caves and have an explore. These caves are regularly inspected by the National Trust for stability. Please heed all the warning signs, do not cross any roped or fenced off areas and enter at your own risk.
We had such fun exploring these caves. We entered through a long, but not too long tunnel into the main chamber which is approx 40 feet high. Here there’s a huge puddle (that the dog discovered is actually quite deep, so watch out!) with a goldfish living in it! See if you can spot it!
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Continuing through the cave and out into the open there is a steep and slippery climb up into the second level of the pit quarry. Here you can look down into the main chamber (steep drop off!) and explore the other caves leading off this level. One is a water logged dead end. A second is a waterlogged route through to the north west and the third is a 400 foot tunnel out to the east. When going through this cave you will need torches / lighting as it is pitch black with low ceilings.
If you want to do some more exploring, you can walk up and round the outside of the quarry, looking down into it from the very top. Obviously with caution! There are also several little old slate buildings which the kids enjoy playing in.
To find the 400 foot cave to exit through… as you climb up from the ground floor to the second level, the cave is directly in front of you / slightly to the right. When you exit this cave, turn left and head downhill to rejoin the path down to the ford.
Again, don’t cross the river here. It’s worth continuing westwards on the footpath and turning right to cross the river at the beautiful Slater Bridge. Then follow the footpath north east to join the road which will lead back to the car.
We also highly recommend the Three Shires Inn for food and drink, alas it closes for a couple of weeks each winter for refurbishments, so is normally closed in January which meant that today we missed it.
If you couldn’t get parked in Little Langdale, the walk could also be started at the large free car park near Hodge Close, at grid reference 316018. Here is the full route map, and all the photos from the walk are below: