Wastwater :

Wasdale Head / Nether Wasdale

Wastwater is situated in the Wasdale Valley. This dramatic lake is 3 miles long, half a mile wide and 260 feet deep, and the deepest of all of England’s lakes.

image of steep fells descending into Wastwater in the Lake District

Wastwater is perhaps the most awe-inspiring of all the lakes. Surrounded by mountains, Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain.

Extending the length of the south-east side of the lake are the Screes, consisting of millions of fragments of broken rock and rising from the floor of the lake to a height of almost 2000 feet, giving the lake an ominous appearance.

image of an aerial view of Wastwater, England's deepest lake, situated in the western Lake District
Wastwater from above Yewbarrow.

The valley was colonised by Norse farmers in the 9th and 10th century. At the Wasdale Head end of the lake is St. Olaf’s Church, one of the smallest in the country.

In an ITV television program in 2007, Wastwater in the Lake District has been named as Britain’s favourite view after the public chose from four landscapes. Sally Whittaker, the Coronation Street actress, spoke in praise of Wastwater which Wordsworth described as “long, stern and desolate”. She said: “This landscape has fired up the imaginations of painters, poets and climbers over the centuries. And it’s not lost any of its power to surprise, charm and thrill us today.

image of Wastwater lake in the Lake District, by Jan Fialkowski for Visit Cumbria
Britain’s favourite view.

The lake is owned by the National Trust, as also is Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain). There is a National Trust campsite at the Wasdale Head end of the lake. At the other end is the Wasdale Hall Youth Hostel, also owned by the National Trust.

There is an ‘honesty box’ car park at Overbeck on the shore of Wastwater, and a pay and display car park at Wasdale Lake Head, the beginning of the route up Scafell Pike. Informal parking options are available but very limited, including in lay-bys and on Wasdale village green. Please do not park in passing places or obstruct traffic.

There are very basic and limited temporary toilet facilities at Wasdale Head village green and Lake Head car park. The National Trust make every effort to maintain these, but heavy overnight use causes problems – so please use other facilities where possible. Three Peaks visitors must use the 24 hour parking and toilets at Lake Head.

Grid Ref : NY 160060

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