Wastwater & Wasdale
One of my favorite journeys is over to Wastwater, lying over to the west of the Lake District and approached by the Wrynose pass or the Western Coast. The ride over the pass, through the Langdales, is an experience in itself as it winds up into the mountains, with precipitous hairpin bends, all getting you nicely in the mood for what is to come. As you approach you are confronted with a sight spectacular. A huge body of water, the famous Wastwater screes, which at nearly 2000 feet plunge seemingly vertical, down into the waters edge, and in the distance the visually most perfect range of mountain peaks.
Wastwater is without doubt the most haunting and dramatic of all the lakes. The view across the water is to Scafell, Great Gable, flanked by Kirkfell and Lingmell. If the mist rolls in the mood is dark, and the knowledge that the waters drop down to some 258 feet adds to the drama. The lake is three miles long and half a mile wide with an is an easy walk along the west shore with plenty of places to picnic. The screes have a sort of track at the foot, but it is exceptionally hard going and I would strongly advise against attempting this difficult route. You can canoe or row on the water, but 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 and serves excellent ale, good bar food and has a pro - climbing shop. Hidden away in a little field, behind a standing of fir trees, stands St Olafs Church. Said to be the smallest church in England, the little graveyard has memorials to climbers killed in the Himalayas, Scafell and Great Gable.
Wasdale is the preferred accent start point to the big mountains. Here you have Scafell Pike, which at 978 metres it is the highest peak in England and considered one of the most difficult of climbs in the Lake District. Next is Scafell, which at 964 meters is the second highest peak 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, these along with a host of other peaks, pikes, needles and craggs. It goes without saying that these are big climbs and you must acquaint your self with the area, get maps, check weather and equip well with the right clothing. I sometimes think that for some, going a comfortable part of the way, still getting some fantastic views and memorable photographs, is far better than overstretching ones ability. However if you feel the urge then go for it, you will never forget the experience and the feeling of satisfaction, but do follow the simple rules below.
Guides Maps Summary & Safety
Fell and mountain safety is important and you can help stay safe by following a few simple rules when fell walking. Obtain a reliable local weather forecast before you set off and plan a route suitable for forecast conditions. Check your equipment before leaving, take waterproofs, spare warm clothing, hat and gloves. food and drink, a map, a compass and a survival bag. Learn basic mountain skills, particularly navigation. If weather conditions turn bad, turn back. Don't rely on mobile phones.
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