Cathedral Quarry

I was beginning to think someone didn’t want me to visit this place. I only found out about the location shortly before my trip – a set of disused inter-linked quarries for green slate. The site is now managed by the National Trust and can be entered by the public. It features various chambers and tunnels, including one which is 400 feet long. The quarry’s main attraction, ‘The Cathedral’, is a 40-foot high main chamber lit by two windows with a huge rock pillar supporting the roof. I like caves, having done some amateur potholing in the past, but when I made a few enquiries in my photography forum, I was strongly advised not to go alone. I was puzzled – I had already dismissed another cave as the roof appeared to be unstable, but this one was relatively safe. I dug a little further and my friends seemed worried about the potential danger for a lone female. To be fair, I did see their point, but the truth is that all my trips contain such risks. I had to climb Mam Tor in the Peak District in the dark and wait around on the summit for the sun to rise. I did have a scare on Burnham beach last year, but if I let my fears get the better of me then I wouldn’t go anywhere. I decided I wouldn’t be put off and the quarry was duly added to my itinerary.

So I was part way through my first day in the Lakes and I had planned to have lunch at The Three Shires in Little Langdale. It was a lovely place, but parking was a nightmare. I had intended to leave the car there while I explored for an hour or two, but the signs were perfectly clear – parking was only allowed for the duration of your meal. I had to find somewhere else in the village or give it up as a bad job. I drove all the way to the end, but a couple of builders had left their vans in the only free spaces available. Perhaps I allowed the warnings to get the better of me, but as I turned round, I made the decision to leave. I passed the pub, but about a quarter of a mile further on I came across one small space. I changed my mind for the second time in two minutes as I squeezed my little car into the gap. The quarry was back on my list!

It was a perfect afternoon for a walk and I chatted to the locals I met along the way. One lovely gentleman was planting bulbs by the side of the dry stone wall. I loved the signs asking cyclists to mind children playing in the road – no cars ventured down this narrow lane. I crossed the river and turned right, looking for the stile that was supposed to be very close. The instructions said only 150 yards and yet I must have walked nearly twice that – or so it seemed with my little legs. I was just wondering if I should turn around when the gate to the quarry appeared. Less than a minute later I was standing outside the entrance, trying to forget what I had been told on my forum. I took a deep breath, walked down the tunnel and started setting up my tripod.

I was almost ready for my first shot when I heard footsteps from behind. Trying to appear unfazed, I turned around to see a lone man. I said hello and we got chatting. Far from being the attacker my friends were worried about, he turned out to be a very talented local photographer. After he left, several groups came and went. When I was working on my own, a very friendly robin kept me company, hopping to within inches of my feet. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, the light eventually disappeared and I made my way back to the car.

Cathedral Quarry2

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