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
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
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 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 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
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.
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.
(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
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.