|Businesses in Wasdale Head||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
(See also Wasdale)
Wasdale Head is not really a village but a loosely connected set of cottages and farms set in flat farming land. Its location at the head of the Wasdale Valley guarantees its entry on a list of Lakeland's most scenic locations. Yewbarrow, Great Gable and Lingmell Fell all contribute to the view.
Although it is Santon Bridge that is famous for its annual World's Biggest Liar contest, the tradition began at Wasdale Head. In the 1800s, Will Ritson, the publican of the Wasdale Head Hotel, regaled his customers with tall tales about the area's folk heritage. His stories earned him a mention in a Victorian travel guide to the Lake District. One ‘story’ was that the local turnips grew so big they were used for sheep sheds. Ritson was also known as a wrestler and huntsman.
The Wasdale Head Inn, originally a farmhouse was enlarged by Ritson in 1856 to house overnight guests. There were other alterations over the last century, but the Inn still retains many original features, including a collection of climbing memorabilia. Another Wasdale Head building, the 17th century Rowhead, also served as an inn for walkers and climbers.
Behind the Wasdale Head Inn is a stone arched packhorse bridge. Once both smuggling and trade routes led from the Inn over the Black Sail, Sty Head and Burnmoor passes. Now walkers take advantage of the trails.
Wasdale Head is a convenient starting point for a circular walk of all the fells that surround the valley. It's also popular as a climbing base for Scafell Pike. Nearby Wast Water is another attraction.
At Wasdale Head is St Olaf's Church, the third smallest church in England. Before 1892 the floor of the church was dirt, and the windows lacked glass. The stained glass window memorializes members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who died in World War I. The inscription reads ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my strength’.
Yew trees in the graveyard look down on the memorials of those who died exploring the surrounding fells. Before the church acquired a graveyard in the 20th century, the dead were carried along a corpse road to Boot in Eskdale for burial.
The Wasdale Head Show and Shepherds' Meet is held each October. It includes hound trailing, fell racing, sheep and sheepdog shows, wrestling, and other local attractions.
Wasdale Head sits in a spot that epitomizes the beauty of the Lake District.
Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal
Wasdale Head is located on a minor road from Nether Wasdale from the A595 south of Egremont. Follow the road to Santon Bridge, continue past Nether Wasdale and Wast Water until the road dead ends.
© 1997 - 2013 by The Cumbria Directory. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, including images, and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from The Cumbria Directory is prohibited.