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Things to see and do in Wasdale

Two visitors on mountain bikes ride alongside a river in Wasdale, Cumbria
Mountain biking in Wasdale, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Discover Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain, and Wastwater, the deepest lake in the country. Whether you’re in Wasdale for a family stroll or some serious scrambling, there so much to explore, from wildlife to waterfalls.

Wasdale highlights

Wasdale is a remote farming community surrounded by spectacular fells and dramatic wilderness. The fells have been an inspiration for mountaineers, climbers and poets for decades and remain a magnificent setting for an adventure to suit everyone.

Take in the highest views in England

Visit Wasdale to experience England's highest peak, Scafell Pike, not to mention the mountains Great Gable, Pillar and Yewbarrow. The crisp winter air gives intensely clear light, and you can see for miles in every direction.

Scafell Pike, the highest peak

Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain, and some would say most challenging. All year round it will require careful planning but, in the autumn and winter, it is vital to leave extra time. If you’re planning to head out onto the high fells when the days are shorter, take the time to pack a torch in your rucksack to avoid getting caught out as night falls. Find more tips for walking up Scafell Pike here.

Try a more moderate walking route

If the high fells are not for you, you don’t need to climb Scafell Pike to enjoy Wasdale’s beauty: there is plenty of interest along the valley floor. Wasdale’s valley paths deliver just as much drama as its mountains.

From Wasdale Head you can take in valleys, riverbanks, ancient packhorse tracks and waterfalls. Ritson’s Force waterfall is only a short stroll from the valley head.

Try a moderate level walk around Greendale Tarn – on a clear day you can see as far as the Isle of Man.

Winter view of Scafell Pike from Wasdale, Cumbria. Snow capped mountains sit against a clear blue sky.
Winter view of Scafell Pike from Wasdale, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Winter in Wasdale

In winter you can experience the serenity and tranquillity of Wasdale valley. You won’t find any crowds, shops or glittering lights here; on a calm winter’s day in Wasdale all that you will find are the near perfect reflections of the surrounding snowy mountains in Britain’s deepest lake, Wastwater - a favourite with photographers

The snow-capped peaks of England’s highest mountains including Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Pillar and Yewbarrow are great choices for those seeking awe-inspiring views and solitude. The crisp winter air gives intensely clear light and you can see for miles in every direction. On clear sunny days, colours are richer and warmer than those of summer and the snow covered summits silhouette the royal blue sky.

In midwinter look out for footprints in the snow and frozen waterfalls of blue ice and perhaps some brave ice climbers on the steepest cliffs. Air is still and silent and all noise is muffled by the snow so even the faintest noise in the distance is sharp on the ear: on a calm day listen for the gentle flapping of Raven wings.

If the high fells are not for you , there is plenty of interest in the valley floor. You can wonder around the paths of Wasdale and meander your way to the tiny church with its ancient yew trees and gravestones of fallen climbers. The woodlands in Nether Wasdale are also perfect places for walks – bare trees, frozen streams and welcoming Inns for a winter warmer by the fire.

The days are short but the dark nights showcase the sparkling winter stars, sometimes even see a shooting star!

It is well worth spending a few days to really unwind and immerse fully into this quiet and remote valley. If you are hardy enough - consider a stay at Wasdale Campsite where there are tipis with wood burning stoves. Alternatively, for really cosy nights, we also have two holiday cottages where you can put your feet up by the fire after a big adventurous day out.

A wintry view over Wastwater towards Wasdale Head and Great Gable, Cumbria
A wintry view of Wasdale Head and Great Gable, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Climbing and scrambling in Wasdale

It can be argued that Wasdale is the birthplace of British rock climbing, starting with W.P. Haskett-Smith’s ascent of Napes Needle, Great Gable, in 1886.

The crags of Wasdale continue to be an inspiration for rock and ice climbers. The range of routes means that there are suitable climbs for all skill levels.

Visit Wastwater - England’s deepest lake

As well as boasting some of the best views in England, Wasdale is also home to Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, which is an impressive 79 metres deep.

Wastwater is so special it has been designated a special area of conservation and here you can always find space to relax and take in the landscape.

Walkers on the Scafell path with Wastwater in the distance at Wasdale, Cumbria

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