Carved into the untamed landscape of the Western Lake District, the glacial Wasdale Valley proffers a haunting beauty unrivalled by anywhere else in the national park. Its moody demeanour commands your attention and it has every right to stop you in your tracks. Wasdale plays host to the country’s deepest lake, the smallest church and the tallest mountain – it has certainly earned its bragging rights!
You could easily spend a week in Wasdale exploring its wild mountains and off-the-radar nooks and crannies, and you’d still only uncover a portion of its allure. Although it’s beautiful in any season, autumn walks at Wastwater are especially captivating.
To introduce you to some of Wasdale’s best bits, I’ve put together just a few things you can do here…
Top Things to do in Wasdale
1. Walking in Wasdale
Not only will you find England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike) in Wasdale, there are many more imposing peaks that you might like to tackle:
- Scafell Pike
- Great Gable
- Kirk Fell
- Red Pike
- Illgill Head
- Middle Fell
- Broad Crag
- Great End
- Scoat Fell
- Whin Rigg
Don’t worry, if you can’t wait to don your walking boots but you don’t fancy attempting anything too strenuous, there are plenty of low level walks around Wasdale.
For me, without a doubt, Wastwater is the magnus opus of Wasdale. At 79 metres, this glacial lake is the deepest in England. But it’s not just this that makes Wastwater so special; its waters lie beneath the menacing gaze of Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Yewbarrow, to name a few. On its southeastern side, the Wastwater Screes plunge precariously into the lake’s depths.
If you can’t say no to a spot of outdoor adventure, you can go diving or swimming in Wastwater. Alternatively, for those who daren’t brave the cold, this is a magnificent place for kayaking among the mountain scenery.
3. Ritson’s Force Waterfall
Who doesn’t love a waterfall? Just a pleasant stroll up from the Wasdale Head Inn, the National Trust Ritson’s Force is a series of cascades that rush down the Mosedale Valley. If you’re looking for a peaceful idyll with woodland, waterfalls and mountainous backdrop, this is the perfect location.
4. St Olaf’s Church, Wasdale Head
Tucked away under the shadow of the fells, beneath a leafy canopy of yew trees, St Olaf’s Church is the smallest parish church in England. It’s believed to date back to the mid-16th century and its old, beamed roof is thought to be made from the wood of Viking ships.
There is a free car park just further down from the church and from there you can walk along the footpath to St Olaf’s.
5. The Sawmill Café, Nether Wasdale
Relatively new to Nether Wasdale, The Sawmill is a cool riverside café and farm shop. It’s set in a beautiful location and teeters on the banks of the River Irt. Outside you’ll find picnic tables where you can enjoy alfresco lunches and breakfasts as you soak up the waterside setting and watch the huge oak waterwheel in motion. Make sure you check out the farm shop too with its locally reared meats before you leave.
Discover more hotels in the Lake District.
If, like me, you have a love for Wasdale, read about the Wasdale Womble and her mission to keep the area free from litter.