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Best Walks from Wasdale in the Lake District

By Dave Roberts   

on November 26, 2018    5/5 (1)

Best Walks from Wasdale in the Lake District

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There are few, if any, other places like Wasdale in the Lake District. Despite boasting the tallest mountain in England in Scafell Pike, it still manages to retain a wildness and remoteness that you don’t get towards the east of the park. Not only does it have the highest mountain, but the deepest lake – Wastwater and England’s smallest church; St Olaf’s.

While there are certainly dales in the Lake District that are wilder and remoter, they don’t boast a tavern that’s borderline legendary to fell walkers in the Wasdale Head Inn. All around Wasdale reads like a who’s who of Lake District’s most famous summits. From the previously mentioned Scafell Pike to Scafell, Pillar and Great Gable to name just a few. It’s not surprising that we’ve collected enough walks here to keep the fell walker busy for well over a week!

Those looking for low level walks in Wasdale can walk around Wastwater, or take a short walk up into Mosedale or around the base of the valley for an easy low level walk. But lets face it, if you’re in Wasdale you’re not here to stay in the valley bottom, you’ll be rearing to get onto those felltops!

Where to Stay, Eat and Drink in Wasdale

There’s a National Trust Camp Site that we’ve stayed at a few times and is a pleasant enough site, or you can camp at Wasdale Head which is really convenient for the pub! We’ve already mentioned the Wasdale Head Inn at Wasdale Head, and there’s also The Strands Hotel and the Screes Inn at Nether Wasdale. There’s also a catering van at peak times at the Wastwater car park. You can also find the Barn Door shop at Wasdale Head which sells outdoor essentials. There’s also a YHA in Wasdale.

Where to Park at Wasdale

Parking is reasonably plentiful at the Wastwater car park and also opposite the Wasdale Head Inn. Remember that walkers can also be plentiful at peak times and it will be a problem if you arrive late on a sunny bank holiday. Three Peakers put even more pressure on the parking at peak times, so we’d recommend you arrive early if possible.

How Can I Get To Wasdale

There’s no public transport, with the nearest train station being at Seascale and a taxi required to get to Wasdale. Driving here is awkward as well, unless you live on the Cumbrian coast, as you essentially need to drive around the Lake District to get here. The most direct route is via the Hardknott Pass, but that’s purely one for those who love driving and a better approach is via the A595.

Walk up Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Wasdale Head

Height Gained – 970 metres ,  Distance – 8 km, Time –3 hours *One Way

It seems fitting to start with a walk up Scafell Pike – and there’s no better route up than the Corridor Route from Wasdale Head. The Corridor Route does boast a few sections of easy scrambling, but is a straightforward route for experienced fell walkers that contours the hillside between Sty Head and Lingmell Col along a spectacular path. It’s unfortunate that you have to join the ‘tourist’ path for the final climb to the summit.

The Mosedale Horseshoe

Height Gained – 1600 metres ,  Distance – 19 km, Time –8 hours 

Pillar, at 892m, misses out on that magic height of being a Furth Munro by only around 22 metres, but is still the 6th highest mountain in England by some measures. It still provides the high-point for one of the best walks in the Lake District, the Mosedale Horseshoe. Climbing all the summits on the Mosedale skyline including Kirk FellPillarBlack CragScoat Fell , Steeple , Red Pike (Wasdale) and finally finishing on Yewbarrow

Great Gable from Wasdale Head

Height Gained – 850 metres ,  Distance – 5.6 km, Time –2 hours  *One Way

Great Gable is one of the most iconic Lake District mountains and at 899m is the 4th highest mountain in England. It’s also a popular destination for walkers from all directions, including this route via Sty Head and Aaron Slack..

Scafell Pike via Pier’s Gill

Height Gained – 630 metres ,  Distance –5.8 km, Time –2 hours  *One Way

If the Corridor Route is the best route, Pier’s Gill isn’t far behind. It does have a fearsome reputation, but should pose no problems to the competent and careful hill walker. Can be tricky in descent however!

Best Walks from Wasdale - Pier's Gill

Scafell via Lord’s Rake and the West Wall traverse

Height Gained – 960 metres ,  Distance – 11 km, Time – 5 hours 

Scafell can be ascended with little trouble, or arguably interest, via Green How. Those looking for a bit more excitement, without the perils of Broad Stand, would do well to consider the scramble up Lord’s Rake. A bit loose in places but still a scrambling route of note.

Scafell Pike and Scafell via Brown Tongue

Height Gained – 1150 metres ,  Distance – 10 km, Time – 5-6 hours 

If Lord’s Rake looks intimidating, then this is the walker’s route up Scafell. This also includes the ascent of Scafell Pike via Brown Tongue before descending to Mickledore. Rather than tackling the tricky Broad Stand the path descends to Foxes Tarn before reascending to the summit of Scafell. Note that Broad Stand is classified as a rock climb, albeit an easy one – but too technical for hill walkers.

1 Scafell Pike (978 metres) The Highest Mountains In England - The Top 25

Walk up Scafell Pike From Wastwater Wasdale Route

Height Gained – 900 metres ,  Distance – 4.2 km, Time – 2-3 hours *One Way

We couldn’t really leave this one out! Without a doubt the most popular route up Scafell Pike by a long shot, and we can say with just as much certainty that it isn’t the best! It’s still a good hill walk, if you like busy routes. Best used as a descent route after ascending one of the more interesting routes up Scafell Pike.

Illgill Head

Height Gained – 780 metres ,  Distance – 15 km, Time – 5-6 hours 

Not all the mountains around Wasdale are record breaking, with summits like Illgill Head topping out at a lowly 609 metres. Every visitor to Wasdale will pass Wastwater and the slopes of Illgill Head are also known as “The Screes” that fall steeply into Wastwater. The ridge above is flatter and grassier than the view across Wastwater suggests, but one of the best places to get a feel for the surrounding summits.

Middle Fell, Seatallan and Buckbarrow

Height Gained – 780 metres ,  Distance – 10 km, Time –4 hours 

The final walk from Wasdale is up Setallan, a walk that starts nearer Nether Wasdale than Wasdale Head. One to keep for a half day’s walk, or if you’re looking for something a little less challenging.

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Dave Roberts

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