"Self catering holiday cottage in Wasdale, the Lake District"
Wasdale in the Lake District


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Famously, with England’s highest mountain and deepest lake, Wasdale still has an unspoilt tranquillity that belies its majestic grandeur. The valley stretches over 12 miles from Gosforth to Wasdale Head, initially through open farmland until the mountainsides rear up and the valley bottom narrows, and the road follows the lakeshore to the head of the valley.

Dawn over Great Gable in Wasdale
Dawn over Great Gable in Wasdale

Wasdale is the most mountainous of the Lake District Valleys. From Wastwater in the valley bottom, the Screes climb, seemingly vertically, out of the lake. On the other side of the valley, Seatallan and Yewbarrow can be found. The valley has hardly changed in hundreds of years, and the natural splendour of the fells and lakes has been preserved in all of its glory. Hiking and walking here is a truly memorable experience.

When you stand at the head of the valley, you are surrounded by the massive peaks of Great Gable, Green Gable, Scafell, and of course, the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike. On a sunny day, you can sit at the Wasdale Head Inn and drink a pint of real ale made on site at their own Microbrewery, and be sure that there can be no finer mountains in the entire world. Certainly after a day on the fells, walking amongst the highest peaks in the land, there can be no sweeter taste than that of a well-earned pint, and no better place to enjoy it.

Wasdale on a Winter's evening
Wasdale on a Winter's evening

Wasdale has hardly changed for centuries - there are no modern developments here to spoil the landscape. The valley bottom is a patchwork of fields and dry stonewalls, and then the mountains rise up to the skies, offering unparalleled fell walking. You can swim or paddle in the lake, or just relax and enjoy the breathtaking views from the heart of this majestic mountain environment.

Within walking distance

  • Wastwater - England's deepest lake 5min walk
  • Wasdale Head - England’s Smallest Church, St Olaf’s
  • Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain
  • Nether Wasdale

Wastwater is three miles long, half a mile wide and 260 feet deep, making it the deepest of all the lakes. Wastwater is the playground of rival diving clubs - gossip has it that each club has gnomes on the lakebed, one of which has a noose around his neck resulting from an argument between two of the clubs!

Wastwater is perhaps the most awe-inspiring of all the lakes. Surrounded by mountains, Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain. Extending the length of the southeast side of the lake are the Screes, consisting of millions of fragments of broken rock and rising from the floor of the lake to a height of almost 200 feet, giving the lake an ominous appearance.

Scafell Pike
Situated in the western Lake District, Wasdale, the home of British Climbing, provides the easiest access to Scafell and its excellent climbing, whether that be in the ice-cold of winter, or the early misty mornings of spring. Scafell is described in the current FRCC rock climbing guide as ‘A cold, wet crag that’s miles from the road.’ What more could one ask for? And being the highest climb in England, the main crag on Scafell produces some of the most demanding climbs in the district in the form of classic gullies and more modern mixed routes. But though Scafell may be the ‘jewel in the crown’, there are other good crags accessible from the valley. The gullies of Wasdale Screes in particular can give some of the longest water-ice climbs in the region, or just gentle walks from the hundreds of riverside, valley and mountain walks and climbs that are on offer.

Wasdale Screes

(NY 155 043) Alt. 260m North facing
These large broken crags above the screes at the foot of the south-eastern end of Wast Water are seamed by a series of gullies named alphabetically from left to right. The shortest approach is by the footpath from opposite the gate entrance at Woodhow Farm (NY 140 042),

The Screes at Wasdale

St Olaf’s Church
At the end of the lake, at Wasdale Head, is St Olaf’s Church, one of the smallest in the country. The valley was colonised by Norse farmers in the 9th and 10th century. There is also the Wasdale Head Inn serving real ale at the top of the lake, for those weary walkers.

St Olafs - one of England's smallest churches
St Olafs - one of England's smallest churches

Nether Wasdale
Nether Wasdale (also known as Strands) lies in Wasdale near the river Irt, at the southern end of Wastwater, England's deepest lake. Its white stone cottages line the roadside.

By the village green is St Michael & All Angels Church, with the village cemetery some 200 metres away. In front of the church is a large maypole, now a listed structure, erected to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.

St Michael & All Angels Church
Originally this little church was a chapel of ease for St Bees Priory, the present building dating from the 16th century.

The oak panelling in the sanctuary, with rich borders of cherubs, fruit and flowers, and the pulpit and lectern were salvaged from York Minster after a fire in the 19th century. The ceiling has fine plaster reliefs with cherubs' faces, and remains of murals on the south walls. On the west wall is a moulded Royal coat of arms for George III. Gas lamps add to the warm relaxed atmosphere.

The two-light East window of 'Resurrection Morning' is by Shrigley and Hunt, and is a memorial to the men of the parish who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918.

A Boobook Owl at Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Owl CentreThe Surrounding Area

The Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway

Other Local Attractions

There are dozens of historical houses and castles, open to the public. For more details, go to http://www.english-lakes.com/

Muncaster Castle with its gardens & owl centre
Muncaster Castle with its gardens & owl centre


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