Thieves Rogues And Vagabonds LANCELOT "LANTY" SLEE The most notorious moonshiner in the Lake District lived in the Langdales. He was born around 1800 in Borrowdale, and lived at Low Arnside between Skelwith Bridge and Coniston. His name was Lancelot Slee. Lanty, as he was to be called, was of Irish descent and has been described as a 'stiff, fresh faced man of great endurance'. 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.
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. Slee, although turned sixty, 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.