Wasdale

(See also Wast Water , Wasdale Head and St Olaf’s Church)

Wasdale Down in the Dale Bridge by Tony RichardsThe remote valley of Wasdale is part flat land and moorland, part dramatic fell views, and part a lake. The winding road into the valley is a minor one and terminates at Wasdale Head.

A visitor looking up the valley will see a panorama of majestic mountains. Yewbarrow sits on the north side of the valley, while further towards its head lies Kirkfell (climb to the top for a vista over the valley). At the head of the dale Great Gable and Napes Needle dominate the skyline. Scafell and the Pikes (behind Lingmell) lord it over all.

Wasdale Great Gable by Tony RichardsOf dramatic impact is the desolate Wast Water Screes, a crumbling 1500-foot high vertical wall of rock along the southern shore of the valley's three-mile long Wast Water, England's deepest lake at 260 feet.

Much of Wasdale's land is a nature reserve in the care of the National Trust. Farmland, lakes, fells, woodland, heath, scree, bog and mire all fall under the Trust's jurisdiction.

Wasdale road between Santon Bridge and Wastwater by Tony RichardsAt the head of the valley past the lake sits the tiny hamlet of Wasdale Head. Climbers use it as a starting point for Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain at 3210 feet. Great Gable, Kirkfell, Pillar, and Lingmell have their share of devotees as well.

The only other settlement in the Wasdale valley is the small community of Nether Wasdale.

Wasdale foot path near Wasdale Hall by Tony RichardsA pack horse bridge leads to a route over Sty Head Pass into Borrowdale. There's the attraction of the old corpse road from Wasdale Head by Burnmoor Tarn to Eskdale. It was used when Wasdale did not have its own church, necessitating burials at Eskdale. Another walk from Wasdale Head leads along Wast Water's south side and over Illgill Head. The slippery screes make this an area to be wary of. A circular ridge walk leads over Pillar, Red Pike and Scoat Fell.

Wasdale Upper by Ann BowkerThe valley remained quite isolated even through the 19th century and practiced many old folk ways. The Celtic custom of driving cattle through May Day Beltane fires to ward off evil spirits was one. Another was to not wash a baby's arms or cut its hair until it was six months old, thus preventing it from becoming a thief.

As its symbol, the Lake District National Park has adapted a stylized view of Wasdale and Wast Water. It is truly one of England's most forbidding but outstanding views, virtually unchanged by a century of tourism.Wasdale sunset by Tony Richards

Wasdale is off the A595 from Gosforth and then left on a minor road.

Wasdale National Trust Nature Reserve
Tel. 019467 26064
Email: rwaspm@smtp.ntrust.org.uk

National Trust campsite at Wasdale Head
Open Easter to end Oct; rest of year limited facilities.
Tel. 019467 26220
The Lodge
Wasdale Hall
Wasdale CA20 1ET
019467 26064
Email: wasdale@ntrust.org.uk

Wasdale Youth Hostel
Wasdale Hall
Wasdale, Seascale
CA20 1ET
Tel. 019467 26222

Photos courtesy of Ann Bowker and Tony Richard

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