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


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Wasdale, along with Borrowdale and Langdale is one of the big three mountain valleys of the Lake District, with some of its most dramatic scenery. Famously home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike and deepest lake, Wastwater, it is also one of the most tranquil parts of the National Park.

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

Stretching 12 miles from Wasdale Head at the top of the valley down to the village of Gosforth, this is a place that has hardly changed for centuries. Colonised by Norse farmers in the 9th and 10th centuries, the valley bottom is a patchwork of fields from the time of the Vikings, leading to the lake and mountains that rear up to the sky.

Wasdale Screes

The Screes appear to climb straight out of the lake, rising to a height of almost 200 feet. On the other side of the valley are the great mountains of Yewbarrow, Seatallan, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable and, biggest of them all, Scafell Pike.

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

Wasdale offers some of the most memorable hiking and walking in the Lake District, both on the high fells and along the valley bottom. Felltreks runs guided walks in the fells, led by an experienced member of the Mountain Rescue.

It is also the birthplace of British climbing, with hundreds of routes. Information on these is available from the local climbing shop on 019467 26384.

Wastwater in Wasdale

There are lots of things to do on the lake. Sailing and motor-boats aren’t permitted but you are welcome to bring your own kayaks, canoes and rowing boats. There are plenty of picnic spots and beautiful places to swim or go for a paddle. Wastwater is a magnet for local divers. Look at the BSAC website for details and bookings.

Mountain Biker in Wasdale

Mountain bikes are not allowed on footpaths but are permitted on bridleways, of which there are many. The three most popular routes are Blacksail Pass, Styhead Pass and Burnmoor Tarn, but they are all for experienced riders only as they all involve steep climbing.

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

As well as the deepest lake and highest mountain, Wasdale boast England’s smallest church, St Olaf’s, set amongst a small wood of yew trees. The roof beams are said to have come from Viking ships. The churchyard holds the graves of many climbers who died on the fells.

There are three pubs in Wasdale. At the top of the valley, in the hamlet of Wasdale Head is the Wasdale Head Inn, the perfect place to relax with a pint of real ale made onsite at its own microbrewery. Its Above the Line service provides walking guides and routes tailored to your party’s needs. It was the birthplace of the world’s biggest liar competition, now held each November in the nearby Santon Bridge Inn. Further down the valley, in Nether Wasdale, The Screes Inn offers real ales, a good selection of wines and food, including good vegetarian options. The Strands Hotel just opposite also serves real ales and food.

Within walking distance

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



Gosforth village, at the very end of the valley is the nearest place for shops groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, food to go, alcohol and newspapers. It also has an interesting stone cross in the St Mary’s Church yard , which is thought to date back to Viking times. You can also buy everyday essentials and fine quality poultry, meat and game a couple of miles away at the Santon Bridge Country Cuts farm shop.

Ravenglass & Eskdale

Wasdale is near to many other Lake District attractions, such as the old fishing village of Ravenglass (fifteen minutes drive away) with its Roman bath-house, beach, and the famous Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway - a popular miniature railway that travels seven scenic miles to the beautiful and tranquil Eskdale valley. Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Owl Centre has lots going on all year round, especially for children.

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



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Holiday Cottages in the Lake District let by Sally Fielding