An easy walking route just beyond Slater’s Bridge and the Cathedral Caves


ere’s my challenge to you: step a little beyond Slater’s Bridge and the Cathedral Caves to discover a fantastic walking route.  

You probably already know that Slater’s Bridge and the Cathedral Caves are a much-recommended destination for visitors to Cumbria’s Lake District National Park.  

What if I told you the walk doesn’t need to stop there?

Setting off from the woodland surrounding Colwith Force and adding a loop around the village of Little Langdale makes a route you can walk in under 2 and a half hours. This circular walk is an easy route, ideal for hiking with kids or grandparents (or both!), and without much elevation.

I’ve been leading and photographing Slater’s Bridge walking tours for three years now, and the magic continues long after you leave the echoes of the caves. This circular loop, taking in Slater’s Bridge, Cathedral Quarry, High Park, Colwith Force,and the stepping stones over the River Brathay is an absolute favourite of mine.  

I help people to make their best memories from their visit to the Lake District.

Whether you’re exploring with me or on your own, walkers setting off from Little Langdale or the surrounding area are not short of excellent walks to choose from. But this particular loop is a gem, with a few things to recommend it over other hiking routes or tours.

1. Excellent views (without a gruelling climb)

Of course, any Lake District walk must be complete with views — after all, epic, poetry-inspiring landscapes are what we’re famous for!

Many think you need to climb the highest fells to discover the best views in the Lake District, but I love this route for the fantastic views you’ll catch as we wind through woodland, farmland and disused quarries — despite the low elevation.  

  • The highest view: The highest point on this walk is probably High Park,where walkers emerge from the ancient woodland into open farmland. Here you’ll see Wrynose Pass winding to the west and Pike o'Blisco on a clear day too. Looking eastward, you can see the town of Ambleside, nestled below Rydal Fell, Loughrigg Fell, Baystones, and even Fairfield.  
  • The lowest view: Proving my point that you don’t need to climb high for beautiful views, the road passing through Little Langdale, en route to the stepping stones over the River Brathay, you can catch stunning views of open farmland and the imposing Wetherlam fell, rising to the South.

2. Memorable photo opportunities

OK, I’m biased! As a photographer, I think the opportunity to snap some memorable holiday pictures is a great reason to choose the Slater’s Bridge walk.  

Walkers, tourists and photographers alike visit Slater’s Bridge to capture the iconic shots on the ancient footbridge itself, and in the moody Cathedral Caves beyond. I like these shots too – these unique landmarks are full of history and charm, and don’t lose any appeal even after dozens of visits. The largest cave, in particular, is grand and moody, and I love shooting in there.  

The view overlooking Little Langdale from High Park with Wyrnose Fell and Pike o'Blisco in the background

But the onwardwalk features some other photo opportunities that are not to be missed. Here are three of my favourites:  

  1. Views of Wrynose Pass: at High Park, the path leads into open countryside with Pike o’Blisco and Wrynose Pass in the background. The depth and colour of photos captured here are wonderful. If you’re lucky enough to walk here in early Spring, the peaks in the background of your shot might even have snow on them.
  2. Farmland at High Park: south of the River, the Cumbria Way path joins up with the path coming down from the disused Quarry. The open fields and farm land here offer the kinds of textures and shapes that make for great photography.
  3. Colwith Force: Lake District walks with waterfalls are high on many visitors’ bucket lists, so Colwith Force is an easy addition to your walk here. It can be tricky to get people and the falls in your shot here though, as you’ll be looking down on the waterfall from the path above. The grassy slopes around the waterfall are steep, so stay safe and don’t be tempted to try and get your group selfie here!

3. Picturesque rest stops

Since any walker’s backpack will contain a snack and a drink (I'll admit to a Belgian Bun and a bottle of Fell Walker pale ale, from time to time!), choosing a walk with picturesque rest stops is essential.

Despite its historic appeal, I wouldn’t recommend breaking out your snacks at Slater’s Bridge: it’s busy. Very busy. And you’ll be dodging other walkers hoping to snap pictures at this iconic spot.  

Instead, seek out one of the many nooks and crannies around the caves, especially around the slate piles. Some have great views, while some are more enclosed. No doubt it’ll be one of the most unique places you’ve ever cracked open your lunch box!

Further away from the caves, there are ample opportunities to stop and admire the wildflowers; if you’re lucky enough to be joined by snow-capped fells and blue skies above,it’s heaven.  

From the meadow where I stop with my tour groups, I have enjoyed all sorts: from fish and chips to ramen and curries… all cooked on the hill by a talented local chef. At home, I have a rule for both friends and family that no one leaves the ‘table’ until they’re satisfied — and that’s one I stick to on walks too!

Bonus – tips for packing your backpack!

Personally, I love to fill up a lunch pack locally before setting off. Try the Apple Pie Bakery in Ambleside (for classic bakery pastries, rolls and cakes), or plan a route to pass Chesters in Skelwith Bridge (where their vegan carrot cake, onion bhaji sandwiches, and Oreo Tiffins have converted even the most carnivorous of hikers – me included!).

A fine selection of tasty treats to have on the trail and only a stone's throw away from the route too.

If you have a little more time on your hands, make a pub stop at The Three Shires pub, in Little Langdale.

Wherever you decide to stop for your break, please remember to pack up all your things and take your rubbish with you. Even compostable food waste and so-called ‘biodegradable’ items take much longer than you think to decompose in the environment and are best simply packed up and taken home.  

4. Diversity of the landscape

If you’re only hopping over Slater’s Bridge for the photo, you’ll miss the diversity of landscape that a longer walk will offer.

This circular walk is an insight into the variety of landscapes that make up the Lake District National Park — like a walker’s ten-course tasting menu!  

You’ll follow the waterways from the gentle flow of the River Brathay to the towering falls at Colwith Force, explore the kinds of ancient woodland that would have blanketed the Lake District thousands of years ago, and witness how mining has carved the landscape you see today.  

Whilst seasoned walkers will find this a gentle route, some of the highlights of this walk area natural playground for outdoors lovers, young and old: from stepping stones over the River Brathay to a short scramble out of the Cathedral Caves, you’re not short of the chance to get hands-on with the environment.

If you've not been before Cathedral Cave should still be a MUST SEE destination on your walk.

Perhaps it’s time to plan your next visit!

A circular route taking in not only the popular Slater’s Bridge and Cathedral Caves, but the varied landscapes beyond, is an easy walking route with low elevation.  

It’s got excellent views, unique photo opportunities, picturesque rest stops and a realmix of terrain to experience.

Go on: go and grab yourself and Belgian bun, and plan to walk a little farther afield thanthe Slater’s Bridge tourist crowds — you won’t regret it.

But if you're still not sure where to go and would prefer someone help you around, why not have a look at my guided walking tour service.

Let me guide you around this route
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Portrait image of Lake District photographer, Al Topping Photos & Film