Nestled within the tranquil natural beauty of the Lake District is one of the most quaint and beautiful man-made bridges you’re likely to find in the UK, if not the wider world. Slater’s Bridge (which we’ve also seen written as Slaters Bridge and Slater Bridge, but the possessive is the correct format) can be found spanning the River Brathay, which is not far from the tiny and picturesque village of Little Langdale in the Lake District.
So, what makes Slater’s Bridge so special? Well, if you’re not particularly interested in British history or the English countryside, you might think there’s nothing outstanding about this area. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to spend some time in the most beautiful spots Britain has to offer, then Slater’s Bridge should definitely be on your list. Let’s talk about this tiny yet mighty bridge: what is it, where is it, and why should you go?
What is Slater’s Bridge?
Historically, the village of Little Langdale found itself at the intersection of several packhorse routes, meaning that many travellers would move through this village in order to reach their destinations. Slater’s Bridge is a packhorse bridge that would frequently bear the weight of these noble beasts and their masters, so if you were alive in the 17th century, you would often see travellers moving along this bridge in order to transport whatever goods they were carrying.
The bridge itself was constructed in the 16th century and is made of slate, which is also usually what would be carried by those crossing the bridge, poetically enough. It doesn’t perhaps look as impressive as it once did thanks to many years of wear, but the bridge is still intact, and you can still cross it today. Doing so will give you an incredible view of the Lake District, although admittedly, it’s hard to get a view of this area that isn’t spectacular.
Where can Slater’s Bridge be found?
If you want to explore the area around Slater’s Bridge, it can easily be found simply by taking a walk down the road from the beautiful Three Shires Inn, which is in Little Langdale. In fact, if you’re able to get a room, the Three Shires Inn itself is a gorgeous place to stay, especially if you’re planning on exploring the wider Lake District area. It’s a truly quaint little English inn with ten rooms, homemade food, and a picturesque view.
If you’re not staying at the inn, then you’ll find a couple of different car parks nearby, including a park in Little Langdale from which you can base yourself. It’s worth spending a little time in the village before you set out for Slater’s Bridge, as there are lots of little nooks and crannies that can be explored, but if you’re keen to get to the bridge itself, you should see a lane that descends towards it, and it shouldn’t take you too long to reach this lovely historical site.
What is there to do at Slater’s Bridge?
Admittedly, the bridge itself isn’t particularly “interesting” in a traditional sense; you won’t find massively built-up tourist features dotted around Slater’s Bridge, so if you’re looking for “excitement”, you’re probably looking in the wrong place.
However, if what you want is to see a historically-significant (and, indeed, Grade II-listed) building, then Slater’s Bridge will accommodate that desire. It’s an impressive-looking artefact that will put you in mind of the hustle and bustle of packhorses wandering across it; try to imagine yourself as a 16th-century traveller who’s transporting slate from one of the nearby mines, taking part in the gradual construction of England as we know it today.
Of course, you can also take a picnic or some lunch and sit at or near the bridge, looking out over the picturesque Lake District as you enjoy your meal. Make sure to tidy up after yourself, as always; despoiling these sites of natural beauty simply won’t do. Let others enjoy them as you have!
Why should you visit Slater’s Bridge?
You should visit Slater’s Bridge because it makes for a great walk from Little Langdale, and if you’re looking for something to do within the wider Lake District area, this is as good an excuse as any to ramble on down a path and see the natural beauty around you.
There’s more to see here than just the bridge, though. Across the bridge and down the lane a little ways is Cathedral Cave, which is a slate mine that’s no longer in use. The cave is an impressive natural rock formation that’s seemingly supported by a vertiginous rock pillar. It’s awe-inspiring simply standing inside the cave, which is also lit by natural “window” openings, making this a beautiful spot to stand in when summer is at its height (although it’s lovely all year round, as we’re sure you can imagine).
Later on down the path, you’ll also find Hodge Close Quarry, which was used in Netflix’s series The Witcher. When you arrive there, you’ll understand why; the quarry eerily resembles a skull, making it the perfect backdrop for a fantasy series like The Witcher. Of course, you likely won’t encounter any monsters, bandits, or steely-eyed magical warriors here, but you can always imagine them! This quarry makes for the perfect stop-off after a day of exploring the magical environs of the Lake District.