Panorama of Wadale Screes

Cathedral of the Lakes

Nature gets almost architectural in the valley of Wasdale with the dramatic screes plunging into Wastwater, England's deepest lake which is surrounded by its tallest mountains. The highest English mountain, Scafell Pike, is 978m closely followed by its conjoined twin Scafell at 964m. Nearby Great Gable, towering over Wasdale head, stands at 899m with Napes Needle a rock climbing legend.  Much of the year Wasdale can be dark and foreboding often filled with mist and rain when the lake becomes almost black, but then within hours there can be a clear sky and a blue lake reflecting the mountain grandeur. These features combine to generate the feeling of spirituality and contemplation found in a great cathedral.

Wasdale in the mist

A winding, single track road alongside the lake leads to a relatively small area of fertile land at Wasdale head. This has supported farmers for centuries. The origins of the Herdwick sheep and many of the local farming expressions would indicate that farming in the area dates back to at least the time of the Vikings when Norse invaders, rather than raping and pillaging, probably settled down in small communities and grew crops a reared sheep. The nearby church at Gosforth has more tangible evidence of their presence. However, the system of counting sheep seems to have Celtic roots - so possibly the Norse settlers shared the land with an existing people.

Wasdale Head Inn

The small collection of farms, an Inn and one of the smallest churches in England spend a reasonably isolated existence throughout the winter. In summer and fine winter weekends it transforms into a hub for walkers and mountaineers wanting to test themselves on the surrounding fells.

Wasdale Head ChurchWasdale church interior

Wasdale has also been the home for the original World's Greatest Liar - Will Ritson, a famous raconteur, and the renowned endurance fell runner, Jos Naylor.

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WAWL 2009