To begin, step out of the door and turn right along the road. Walk a short distance up the road and turn left down a tarmac lane heading downhill at the lovely, old-fashioned, black and white road sign in the direction of Tilberthwaite.
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Head downhill on the road (with a stone wall on the left and houses on the right) until you reach a gate and wooden fingerpost on the right directing you across a field to Slaters Bridge. Walk gently uphill across the field and through a kissing gate, then head downhill via a well trodden path towards Slaters Bridge.
Whether this wonderfully lumpy bridge over the Brathay is named Slater or Slaters Bridge seems to be up for debate (it gets referred to as both). But what people seem to agree on is that it is a 17th century packhorse bridge, dating back to the days when Little Langdale was at the intersection of routes leading across to Ravenglass and the coast, as well as Keswick and Penrith in the North Lakes, and Ulverston, Broughton-in-Furness and Barrow-in-Furness to the south.
These routes were used for transporting slate from the various quarries in the area, one of which is the impressive Cathedral Quarry - one of the next stops on your walk.
Cross the bridge and follow a path to reach the gravel track on the other side, which is overlooked by prominent heaps of slate slag. Here you can turn immediately left to continue the walk, although it is worth a short wander along the track to the right, where you can get a nice view across Little Langdale tarn into the bowl of the valley and make out the steep ribbon of tarmac which is the road climbing over the notorious Wrynose Pass. It is possible to continue in this direction to explore the higher fells of the area, but for now we’ll continue our loop around Little Langdale.
Walk on the track with the slag heaps on your right towards the trees, until it is possible to take a path on the right up to Cathedral Quarry. This is an interlinked series of slate quarries, honeycombed with tunnels and featuring the impressive Cathedral Cave, a 40 foot high chamber with two “windows” shining into it. You can easily spend an hour here exploring the various tunnels and holes and marvelling at the hard graft involved, but make sure to watch your step as the slate can be slick when wet.
When you’ve had your fill of the slate quarries, wander back down to the track and continue walking along with the river on your left until you reach a bridge heading left to cross it. Ignore the bridge and instead head right on the road, which curves to the left through the trees, and then uphill to reach Stang End.
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From Stang End it is possible to head left back to the road by the Three Shires Inn and finish the walk early. However, it is well worth continuing the walk to loop around onto the top of Little Fell.
To do this, take a tarmac lane to the right (there is a signpost pointing to Hodge Close and Coniston) which soon becomes a gravel track with the fellside rising above it on the left and the land falling away to the right. This track heads through woodland with a view over a still-operating quarry in the valley.
Walk along the track keeping an eye out for a path on the left heading across the peaty moorland of Little Fell. This path heads away from the track at almost 45 degrees and is identified by a post with a yellow arrow.
Follow the path across some very lumpy and boggy ground. It can be slightly indistinct at times, so watch where you’re going and be careful not to trip over tussocks. The path passes over the shoulder of Little Fell, passing a couple of stone walls en route and then drops down through some trees to a tarmac road.
Head left on the road back to Stang End and then head right through a gate (look for the wooden finger post) and take a good path heading across fields towards a prominent white house. Cross the river via a footbridge and head uphill to reach the road. From here it is a short amble along the road to the left back to the Three Shires Inn.