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The Wasdale Valley
Wasdale is one of the big valleys of the Lake District and has some of the most stunning and dramatic scenery in the region.
The Valley is famously home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike and deepest lake, Wastwater. This mountainous valley has hardly changed for centuries and has a long history dating back to the Norse invaders of the 9th and 10th centuries.
The Three Peaks Challenge
Wasdale is famous for being the home of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. Along with Snowdon and Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike completes the trilogy of fells known as the Three Peaks Challenge. Those joining in are challenged to climb all three mountains within 24 hours and all money raised goes to charity. You can browse our Scafell Pike accommodation here.
Wasdale has four fantastic pubs and one of our favourites is The Wasdale Head Inn, at the very top of the valley. This is a dog-friendly pub with a long history documented in its ancient leather bound guest book and in the galleried pictures adorning the walls. You can marvel at photos taken by the Abraham Brothers, many of which are originals, and sample some local ales. Other great pubs are The Strands, which has its own microbrewery, and The Screes in Nether Wasdale. The Santon Bridge Inn hosts the annual World’s Biggest Liar contest. The competition dates back to the 19th century and stems from the original landlord of the Wasdale Head Inn, Will Riston, telling tales to unsuspecting tourists.
Wastwater is the deepest lake in the Lake District. With a depth of nearly 260ft Wastwater is as deep as St Paul’s Cathedral is high! The clear waters attract diving clubs who explore the depths and seek out the rumoured underwater gnome garden. The peaceful lakeshores are the perfect place to enjoy the tranquil wilderness of Wasdale. On the far shore you can see the dramatic Wasdale Screes rising up like a sheer grey wall out of the water.
Walking in the Wasdale Valley
Wasdale is a walker’s paradise and has some of the biggest and most spectacular mountains in the Lake District including Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Pillar. The view from Wastwater of Scafell, Great Gable and Yewbarrow was voted ‘Britain’s Favourite View’. Families and those looking for a more gentle stroll can enjoy some of the wonderful low level Lake District walks in the valley too. The ancient woodlands of Nether Wasdale are home to local wildlife and examples of traditional farmsteads.
You can take part in some exciting outdoor activities in the western Lake District. There are lots of companies offering adventures including ghyll scrambling, climbing, mountain biking or you can go off and create your own adventure. There are mountain bike bridleways to Burnmoor Tarn, Black Sail and Borrowdale via Sty Head Pass. You can also launch your own kayak or canoe on the lake.
There are two annual agricultural shows in Wasdale, which are well worth visiting. The Wasdale Head Show and Shepherds Meet are a great opportunity to mingle with the locals. Watch the fell runners making light work of Lingmell, sample the local ale and food stalls and browse the crafts. You can also see vintage machinery, watch the serious business of livestock judging and shows.
Visit The Smallest Church in England
Wasdale has the smallest church in England, St Olaf’s, which is set in a small wood of yew trees at Wasdale Head; a very atmospheric setting for a church. St Olaf’s seats 39 and has a exposed ceiling beams said to have come from the Viking longboats of the early Norse settlers in the valley. Take time to reflect in the churchyard and read the inscriptions on the gravestones of pioneering climbers from the turn of the century.
At the very top of the Wasdale Valley you’ll find Wasdale Head. There is a pub, two farms and a handful of cottages here. Tall mountains surround this remote hamlet and you’ll find two of our Cottages in Wasdale right at the top of the valley so you can experience the special atmosphere of Wasdale Head for yourself.
- Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Owl Centre, is a 15 min drive away.
- The 'La'al Ratty', a miniature steam railway which follows a scenic 7 mile track from Eskdale to Ravenglass, is also 15 mins away at Ravenglass.
- Cumbria Wildlife
- Try a classic horseshoe walk around Pillar
- If you would like to spend a day of guided climbing, canoeing, ghyll scrambling or other outdoor adventure sports, then see our review of outdoor activities in the Lake District.
- There are lots of pet friendly cottages in Wasdale, see our selection.
- Read our introduction to Sally's Cottages.
- See our short breaks information