This Is the Most Picturesque Footbridge in Britain’s Lake District, Made Entirely of Slate

Spanning the peaceful River Brathay, the charming Slater’s Bridge has withstood the test of time, connecting visitors to the timeless beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Slater’s Bridge is probably the most picturesque footbridges in Britain’s Lake District. Photo: George Hopkins

If you are looking for a scenic and historic spot to visit in the Lake District, you might want to check out Slater’s Bridge near Little Langdale. This 17th century packhorse bridge (a bridge intended to carry horses loaded with sidebags) spans the River Brathay and is made entirely of slate (which is also what those packhorses usually carried across it).

Slater’s Bridge was built by miners who worked in the nearby slate quarries of Tilberthwaite Fells. They used the bridge to transport their slate to the coast and other markets. The bridge was named after the slaters, or slate workers, who used it. It has a unique design that incorporates a natural boulder in the middle of the stream and two different types of arches.

The bridge has a unique design that incorporates a natural boulder. Photo courtesy of Jason Connolly

The bridge consists of two parts: a 15-foot segmental arch that rests on the boulder, and a flatter span that is made of slabs. The segmental arch is more stable and can withstand more weight than a semicircular arch. The slabs are fitted together without mortar, and some have grass growing on them.

The bridge is a Grade II listed building, which means it is of special interest and protected by law. It was listed in 1967, and is one of the oldest surviving bridges in the Lake District. It is also considered one of the most scenic footbridges in the area, and has been praised by writers and poets for its beauty and harmony with nature.

British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator called it “the most picturesque footbridge in Lakeland, a slender arch constructed of slate from the quarries and built to give the quarrymen a shorter access from their homes”.

A scenic arch made of slate slabs. Photo: Ian Taylor

The bridge is located in Little Langdale, a small hamlet in the Langdale Valley. It is surrounded by stunning scenery, including mountains, lakes, woods, and fields. You can park your car near the Three Shires Inn pub, and follow the signs to the bridge. It is a short walk from the village, and you can also explore the nearby Cathedral Cave and Hodge Close Quarry, which are former slate mines that have been converted into tourist attractions.

The bridge is open to pedestrians only, and is free to visit. You can cross it at any time of the year, but be careful as it can be slippery when wet or icy. You can also enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river, or take some photos of the bridge and its surroundings. The bridge is especially beautiful in autumn, when the leaves change color.

Slater’s Bridge in late Autumn. Photo: Andrew Foster

Slater’s Bridge is a hidden gem in the Lake District that offers a glimpse into the past and a connection with nature. It is a perfect place to visit if you love history, architecture, or simply stunning views.

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