12th June 2020    |    Running In Shorts    |    Ricky Lightfoot

The search for Lanty’s Cave

I first learned of Lanty Slee a few years back when reading about Moses Rigg, a plumbago smuggler, signs of Lanty’s operations are said to be found all around the Lakes ~ so I had to find some for myself!

Who is Lanty Slee?

Lanty Slee aka Lancerlot "Lanty" Slee was a notorious moonshiner in the Lake District in the 1800’s where he lived in the Langdales.

He was born in Borrowdale in 1800 of Irish descent, described as a 'stiff, fresh faced man of great endurance' ~ probably because of the lengths and miles he would walk over the passes to be able to smuggle his then famous distilled moonshine.

Slee was arrested several times
Ricky Lightfoot

Lanty's illicit business grew very quickly. He was constantly chased by authority but remained one step ahead. The moonshining prospered and Lanty moved to Arnside to live in an isolated house above his former farm.
He built his largest still, which became known as Lanty's Cave, in a field here. There was another at Hallgarth, one above Langdale and yet another erected in a quarry near Tilberthwaite.

Lanty farmed by day and delivered by night. He had many regular customers including a local magistrate. When fines were imposed they seemed strangely reduced by the time payments were made!
Slee was arrested several times, even gaoled in Ambleside. One man, William Pattinson a supposed partner, tried to bring down Lanty after a bitter quarrel over the business.

On 9th May 1853 Lanty was convicted of illegal distillation of liquor...
Ricky Lightfoot

So outraged was Pattinson that he went straight to the Magistrates and told all. On 9th May 1853 Lanty was convicted of illegal distillation of liquor and was fined the then huge Sum of £150 Pattinson was so worried that he fled the district. Lanty himself moved back to Little Langdale, to his old haunts, giving the impression of retiring, but although turned sixty he was not yet finished and more stills appeared, one near the top of Wrynose and another close to the Three Shire Stones.

Lanty died at Greenbank Farm in 1878 aged 78

Remnants of Lanty’s caves and locations of his stills can still be found, if you have the right information 😉

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Ricky Lightfoot