One of the most memorable journeys in the Lakes is the road to Wastwater, lying to the west of the Lake District and approached via the Wrynose Pass or from the Solway Coast.
The ride over the pass, through the Langdales, is an experience as it winds up into the mountains with precipitous hair-pin bends, all setting the mood for what is to come. As you approach you encounter a spectacular sight. A huge body of water, the famous Wastwater screes, which at nearly 2000 feet plunge almost vertically down to the water’s edge; this scene is framed perfectly by a distant backdrop of mountain peaks.
Wastwater is without doubt the most haunting and dramatic of all the lakes with a view across the water to Scafell, Great Gable, Kirkfell, and Lingmell. If the mist rolls in the mood is dark, and the knowledge that the water drops down to some 258 feet adds to the drama. The lake is three miles long and half a mile wide with an easy walk along the west shore offering plenty of places to picnic.
St. Olaf's Church
You can canoe or row on the water, but this will require a permit which is obtainable from the National Trust Wasdale Head campsite. At the head of the lake is a very small village and the famous Wasdale Head Inn, much loved by climbers serving excellent ale and good bar food. Hidden away in a little field, behind a standing of fir trees, you can find St Olaf’s Church - said to be the smallest church in England and legend claims that the roof beams were salvaged from a Viking ship!
Wasdale is the preferred ascent start point to the National Park’s highest mountains. Here you have Scafell Pike, which at 978 metres is the tallest peak in England and considered one of the most difficult climbs in the Lake District. Next is Scafell, which at 964 meters is the second highest in England and offers stunning views over Wastwater to the west and the Langdale Pikes to the east.
Then there is Great Gable, Kirkfell and Lingmell, and a whole host of other peaks, pikes, needles and craggs. Always make responsible preparations for embarking on a walk or climb in the wilds of the National Park - see our guide for some basic points.
Stay in Wasdale
If you're planning on spending your next break by the shores of Wastwater, take a look at our Wastwater cottages for a lakeside holiday to remember.