A cavern deep in the woods, hewn out of the rock during the search for slate. A sloping pillar, rather like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, holds the roof of the cavern up. A pool of water that's cold as ice even on a warm summer's day, lies to one side. A window high on the side provides a little soft light, and gives a view down onto a largely historic industry. This is Cathedral Cavern.
The most dramatic way into the cavern is as the miners would have done, via a 100m (110 yards) long dark and damp tunnel. After the tunnel and a little scrambling over rock debris you find yourself in an open to the sky pit. Over to the right is the window into the main cavern. Scrambling down a short smooth rock step brings you to another much shorter tunnel which then takes you into the Cathedral itself.
Bring a torch, preferably a head-torch, you will not be able to walk through the tunnel without one.
On 3rd July Coniston MRT reported that:
There has been a large rockfall at Cathedral Quarry, and the National Trust has consequently closed the upper parts of the quarry and the tunnels until the area has been inspected. A boulder the size of a large car had collapsed. The bottom main chamber (the Cathedral) remains open at this time. Visitors and climbers need to be aware that access is restricted, and comply with posted signs on-site.
So at the moment you will not be able to do this walk exactly as described here but there is still access to Cathedral Cavern. Please rely on local signage.
This walk starts at the small parking area at Tilberthwaite just north of Coniston village.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Continue along the road from the parking area towards High Tilberthwaite Farm. Go through the farmyard keeping right, ignore the track to the left which climbs steeply. Bear right to exit the yard through the gate onto a hard surfaced track. Follow this bridleway, generally NNE. Over to your right, across Pierce How Beck, the spoil heaps are from the Hodge Close quarries. Keep right, but remain on the obvious track.
Continue through the gate beside the aptly named Moss Rigg Wood. In front of the isolated cottage (Brooklands Cottage) the track swings right. In just 70m (77 yards) go through the gap stile in the wall to your left noting the small sign just the other side! Follow the rough eroded path ahead up into the trees, swinging left. In only 30m (33 yards) bear left off the remains of the path into a clearing. This is the top of a spoil heap and to your right is the long tunnel entrance. This is why you need a head torch.
Follow the way through the tunnel. A side-tunnel is gated so there is little to explore there. Reaching the daylight at the far end keep right and clamber over the rocks, keeping to the right. Reaching another level area with a central bowl, keeping children and dogs close by, bear right to go through the gap in the fence to view the cavern from the window. The drop in front of you is sheer!
Return to the bowl and descend to the right over rocks to the lower level. A rocky step is well marked by the passage of boots but can be a little slippery when wet. Go through the short section of tunnel into Cathedral Cavern. Beware the pool of water shelves gently, then drops considerably. So keep away from it.
The other side of the pillar is another short tunnel, the exit.
Back in the daylight, bear left down to the gate and stile, and onto the track. Bear left again. Slater Bridge can be seen over to your right. At Low Hall Garth Hut the track turns left and climbs steeply to High Hall Garth.
Continue on approximately 200m (220 yards) to a junction and signpost amongst open ground. Turn sharp left, signposted to Tilberthwaite 1mile. Climbing steadily, the track is initially severely washed out. Soon passing beside another area of old quarries and an area known as Knotts, named after the proliferation of small bumps, it drops back into High Tilberthwaite Farm yard at the 'left gate'.
Bear right, leaving the yard by the road and return to the parking area.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Steel Edge and Wetherlam Edge, from Tilberthwaite||10m (11 yards) away|
|Tarn Hows, Black Fell, Holme Fell||2.5km (1.6 miles) away|
|A stroll around Tarn Hows||2.5km (1.6 miles) away|
|Great Carrs and Grey Friar||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Tarn Hows from Coniston||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston, from Coniston village||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Cold Pike and Pike of Blisco||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Wetherlam, via Lad Stones ridge and Black Sails||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Coniston to Dungeon Ghyll||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Coppermines Valley above Coniston||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Blea Tarn above Langdale||3.5km (2.2 miles) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston||4.3km (2.6 miles) away|
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|An Elterwater Stroll||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Dow Crag and Goats Water||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston, Brim Fell, Swirl How, Wetherlam||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Walna Scar, White Maiden, White Pike, with a visit to Blind Tarn||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011