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 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 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 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
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
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.