Our plans for Elterwater Quarry
Burlington Stone are proposing to develop a new heritage experience promoting the legacy of Elterwater Quarry’s history whilst creating an immersive cavern tour that is both exhilarating and informative in this unique setting.
Our proposed ‘Cavern Explorer’ experience will be the only attraction and will be almost entirely enclosed within the previously unseen cavern, revealing unique educational vantage points to visitors along its route.
Much of the new development is also in line with the site’s existing 2009 planning consent.
To achieve this vision the quarry operator, Burlington Stone, has partnered with Zip World, one of the UK's leading tourist attraction companies. This award-winning operator has an admirable track record of delivering activity-based attractions safely and responsibly in the heart of National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites. This is clearly evidenced by its work in safely preserving and maintaining former working quarries and caverns at various sites in Wales. And as an award-winning operator that’s already active in the Lake District, this partnership offers us the opportunity to maximise the use of sustainable transport links, with for example, their existing Brockhole site.
There will also be opportunities for visitors to learn about the history of both Elterwater Quarry and the slate industry in general through slate-working demonstrations and outdoor quarrying exhibits, as well as through educational and heritage programmes. Visitors will be able to make their way up to ‘The Quarryman’s Viewpoint’, access to which will be improved by works to the pathway and the introduction of slate signage. Finally, a natural history trail will lead to the former saw sheds, which will themselves be renovated to improve their condition and sustainability performance.
These experiences will provide an engaging way for guests to appreciate and enjoy the environment, without having to alter or change the existing landscape. It will allow visitors to get a real sense of the quarry’s rich history, dating back to the middle of the 19th century, and find out about the generations of miners and quarrymen who worked there, extracting the area’s distinctive Lakeland Green slate.
The site’s existing planning consent allows for a single, visitor tourism centre as well as information boards at points of interest across the development. These will be created sensitively and in keeping with the surrounding environment. The visitor centre will be located in one of the existing disused buildings, with its high quality design based on the site’s proud industrial history. Additionally, the noise and disruption associated with commercial quarrying activity will be significantly reduced.
The History of Elterwater Quarry
Elterwater Quarry is in the centre of the Langdale valley and has a rich slate quarrying and mining heritage dating back to at least the middle of the 19th century.
Throughout its life as a quarry, it has been worked by generations of local quarrymen, who all have stories to share of their time there. We want to help them tell their stories.
The quarry produces a distinctive pale green stone, often enhanced by contrasting markings which emphasise its natural origin as a metamorphic volcanic stone around 400-500 million years old.
The quarry comprises complex underground caverns, quarry voids, benches, faces and waste tips and while there is permission to operate until at least 2042, Burlington Stone has taken the decision to focus its extraction on fewer quarries. To ensure the quarry, its underground caverns and voids remain safe and protected, there is a need to creatively and responsibly repurpose the site.
Burlington Stone's vision is to unlock a sustainable future for Elterwater Quarry, which celebrates the site's rich quarrying legacy and history of human endeavour while bringing the natural geological resource to life.
Managing our visitors
We will create a sensible flow of visitors, with most of our guests being required to book in advance. Time slots will be staggered throughout the day to avoid any overly busy points.
We are also proposing to maintain the site’s existing planning consent, granted in 2009, to safely allow visitors to access the site without putting any strain on parking provisions in the area, with 32 visitor spaces on offer. It is hoped this facility might also provide relief to existing problems in and around Elterwater village in the future. In addition, there will be facilities for electric car and eBike charging as well as areas for bicycle storage, encouraging visitors to travel to the site using sustainable methods.
As a business already operating in the Lake District National Park we are aware of the long-standing traffic problems that exist, especially during peak visitor periods. We have started early discussions with key stakeholders to help us develop a strategy for sustainable transport. Easing quarry operations will, in itself, remove vehicles - especially LGVs - from the local road network. We are also committed to improving the current access to the site, in line with our 2009 planning consent, including work on bridleways and footpaths.
There is also significant scope for our development to trigger considerable local economic opportunities. Where possible, we will use local suppliers during both construction and operations, the latter creating sustainable skilled jobs for local people. Zip World has a good track record in this respect, with their existing attractions in North Wales adding over £251 million to the local economy between 2016-2018, and 93% of their staff coming from local areas. You can view the report here.
As the development will be almost fully enclosed within the caverns, the look and feel of the site will be sympathetic to the landscape and, as such, have an unintrusive visual impact. In line with the site’s existing planning consent, any outdoor areas will be sensitively created and maintained using locally sourced materials. The site’s ecology and biodiversity will be protected and enhanced, preserving the beauty of the existing landscape.
These outdoor spaces will establish an important sense of community wellbeing by providing areas where people can relax and enjoy everything the Langdale Valley has to offer.