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A Wastwater Wander

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A Wastwater Wander
Author: Colpeakbagger, Published: 19 Oct 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cumbria, Southern Fells
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
A Wastwater Wander
Length: 9 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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Wasdale boasts England's deepest lake, Wastwater and this walk not only goes all the way around it, but gives you a spectacular aerial view down on it. Ideally try to finish this walk around dusk, as on sunny days the setting sun turns the scree slope on the far side of the lake into a spectacular array of pinks and reds.

Wasdale is a bit out of the way, but worth the effort. From the A595 (the road that runs along the Cumbrian coast) find the village of Gosforth - its opposite the turning for Seascale. In the village follow Wasdale Road and then Lane Side. The road is narrow but eventually comes out on the lake side about a third of the way down. There are parking opportunities all the way along the lake edge.

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Walk Sections

Start to Top of Wastwater
Start to Top of Wastwater

Start point: 54.4333 lat, -3.3132 long
End point: 54.4567 lat, -3.2651 long

From wherever you manage to park along the lakeside the first section of the walk is very easy and basically follows the lane beside the lake towards the head of Wastwater. Ahead of you is the iconic view that is the Lake District National Park's logo; Great Gable in the middle flanked by Yewbarrow on the left and Lingmell on the right.

Top of Wastwater to Illgill Head summit
Top of Wastwater to Illgill Head summit

Start point: 54.4567 lat, -3.2651 long
End point: 54.4311 lat, -3.2884 long

A little way beyond the head of the lake there is a path heading off to your right past the National Trust campsite. This is actually the beginning of the tourist route up Scafell Pike but at a fork in the path you are going to be heading right following the line of the lakeshore, through the wooded grounds of Brackenclose and now the climb starts. Cross the charming little cobbled bridge and follow the upper edge of Fence Wood before keeping right of the line of a moorland stream as you head up to the top of the ridge above the screes. The top is fairly undulating and the first "top" is Illgill Head at 1,998 feet above sea level it only misses out on being a mountain by 2 feet.

Illgill Head summit to The way down
Illgill Head summit to The way down

Start point: 54.4311 lat, -3.2884 long
End point: 54.4128 lat, -3.3173 long

The next section is again easily navigated as you walk along the top of the ridge enjoying the spectacular views down on to the screes and Wastwater. If it is misty/foggy then you are probably best keeping away from the edge as at one or two points there are opportunities to take a tumble. The ground is mostly grassy with the occasional tarn or rocky outcrop and soon you come to the next summit Whin Rigg and you are now level with the bottom end of the lake. A quick third of a mile downhill and you are ready to begin the decent.

The way down to Finish
The way down to Finish

Start point: 54.4128 lat, -3.3173 long
End point: 54.4329 lat, -3.3135 long

Just before the great gash of Greathall Gill, that is prominent as it heads down the hillside, you turn right and zigzag down alongside it. Its pretty steep but enjoyable as you go down through the bracken. Just before the bottom the path heads to the right until it meets the river when you will now head left. Cross the river at the foot bridge and follow the path through the field up to the lane where you turn right and follow all the way back to your car.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author Colpeakbagger and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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