Little Langdale

Little Langdale

Grid Reference: NY 315034

Wetherlam and Little Langdale Tarn from Lingmoor Fell. Photo by Ann Bowker

Little Langdale is a hamlet of a few scattered stone houses and a pub in the Little Langdale valley. Separated by the Lingmoor Fells from Great Langdale, it can be reached by a narrow, twisting road that passes by Blea Tarn.
It can also be reached from the Eskdale direction via Hardknott pass and Wrynose pass, with the road continuing to join the Ambleside to Coniston road near Skelwith Bridge, and the Ambleside to Great Langdale road at Elterwater.
Today the valley is lovely and quiet, but 200 years ago it would have all been very different. Langdale Village was the major intersection of all the old pack horse routes carrying goods around the area. With old roads coming from Ravenglass to the west, Whitehaven to the north west, Keswick to the north, Penrith and Carlisle to the north east, Ambleside to the east, Hawkshead to the south east and Coniston, Ulverston, Broughton and Barrow in Furness to the south, this is where all the roads crossed.


The River Brathay River runs down the middle of the valley from Little Langdale Tarn, via Colwith Force, to Elterwater, and forms part of the boundary between the historic counties of Lancashire and Westmorland.


The Three Shires Inn, a traditional slate inn built in 1872, gets its name from its location – where on Wrynose Pass, about two miles away, the boundaries of the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire met.


Little Langdale Tarn is near the foot of Wrynose pass, at the junction with the Blea Tarn road to Great Langdale, and although there is no public access, it can easily be seen from the road, or from the public bridleway along its southern shore.

The tarn is of glacial origin and is a pretty, natural tarn, surrounded by high hills. A nearby old farmhouse once served as a haven for smugglers. There is a car park within walking distance at Low Tilberthwaite.


The Bield, once home to the sculptress Josefina de Vasconcellos. Photo by Chris Morton

On a minor road is the old stone Slater Bridge, a typical pack horse bridge crossing the River Brathay.

A short walk from the hamlet, across the Slater Bridge, is the famous Cathedral Cave, and a little further is Hodge Close Quarry.
Many of the scattered farms in the valley are now owned by the National Trust, who conserve their character. The Trust owns several properties here that are available for accommodation.

  • Fell Foot Farm is a 17th century, Grade II listed, National Trust property with a fascinating history and a tradition for hospitality that dates back
  • High Hallgarth is a 17th-century stone cottage overlooking Little Langdale Tarn.
  • (a href=”” target=”_blank”>Low Hallgarth is a basic fell cottage at the end of a remote row of three properties, one of which is still a farm, with fine views over Little Langdale Tarn and up towards Wrynose Pass.


Within the grounds of Fell Foot Farm, at the foot of the Wrynose Pass, is the ‘Ting Mound’ – the intriguing and rare remains of a Viking settlement, where Viking open-air parliament was held and new laws proclaimed.


Castle Howe. Photo by Simon Ledingham.

Also near Fell Foot Farm is Castle Howe, a small volcanic ‘lump’, that was occupied by a Neolithic hill fort, presumably guarding the mouth of Wrynose Pass.


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