TILBERTHWAITE, with its mixture of mining history and peaceful farmland, is one of my favourite parts of the Lake District, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. From its large parking area this walk follows the track to Little Langdale, visits the 'cathedral cave' and Colwith Falls then returns past the impressive Hodge Close quarry.

Start from Tilberthwaite Quarry Car Park.

Map reference NY 306 009, postcode LA21 8DG


Distance: 6.5 miles with 1,200 feet of ascent

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: good footpaths and quiet lanes

Map: OS Explorer OL6 and 7


1 From the car park walk along the lane past Low Tilberthwaite cottages. Note the Lakeland spinning gallery. Continue past Tilberthwaite farm and go through the left gate signed Wrynose Pass. Follow the track one mile to a junction signed Public Way. Turn sharp right onto the downhill track past Hallgarth cottages. Walk past the path to Slater Bridge then go through a gateway. Leave the track to cross a stile next to a padlocked gate on the right and ascend the short track to the main tunnel entrance to visit Cathedral Cave.

2 Return to the track and turn right. Just past a footbridge and ford turn right and after 50 yards left, signed Coniston via Hodge Close. Follow the lane past Stang End to High Park Farm. Go through two gates through the farmyard and out through a third gate onto a bridleway. After about 200 yards pass through gate then bear left at a path junction. Follow the rough path down through woods and past a 'money tree' to Colwith Falls. The Falls or Force drop about 40 feet in a series of stages. The building opposite houses a small hydroelectric plant. The first plant here was working more than 100 years ago and provided electricity to some of the big houses up the hill before the National Grid reached this valley in the late 1950s.

3 Continue along the path downriver. Where the main path bends left keep ahead onto a grassy path to meet the Cumbria Way. Turn left then immediately right at a waymarker onto the bridleway. Cross a footbridge then turn right to go steeply uphill. Follow the path through Tongue Intake Plantation to meet a lane. Turn right then immediately left to cross a grassy area to another lane. Turn right and walk along the lane past Low Oxen Park and High Oxen Park and continue towards Hodge Close. After passing through a gate turn left through another gate and follow the bridleway above Parrock and Hodge Close quarries. These slate quarries were worked from the 19th century until the early 1960s. The green slate faces, which are about 150 feet high, are popular for abseiling. The water is a further 150 feet deep below and the flooded workings are used by divers. About 70 feet below the surface a tunnel entrance leads to chambers with interconnecting tunnels where several divers have died after getting lost.

4 Walk to the road near a parking area and turn left. Pass the cottages at Holme Ground and after a further 220 yards turn right onto a signed footpath through a gate. Just before the path leaves the wood turn left up a steep bank. Follow the path down through woods then beside Yewdale Beck to return to the car park. The sheepfold on the other side of the beck is an Andy Goldsworthy Touchstone sculpture. It was created in 2003 and was the last of his 46 sheepfold sculptures across Cumbria.

Next week: Kirkby Lonsdale and Whittington

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map