Taking a little more effort to reach – but well-worth that extra effort upon arrival, Eskdale and Wasdale in the western Lake District is a great choice for those visitors who prefer a far-flung experience with more rugged beauty and less ice-cream.
Famous for being both the home of England’s deepest lake and highest mountain, the feeling of isolated wilderness here on this side of the Lake District, Cumbria, is hard to beat.
Sitting alongside secluded beaches, castles and hidden lakes which are flanked by wooded shorelines and forests, this part of Cumbria is complemented by tantalising changes of colour throughout the seasons.
Eskdale offers many of the best hikes in England, including England’s highest peak, the famous Scafell Pike. One for only the most experienced of climbers, you can’t get any closer to the sky in England than from the top of here. At nearly 1,000 metres tall, Scafell Pike is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to open access to the peak from the surrounding fells, with many walking and rock climbing routes to choose from.
You can also swim in Wastwater – England’s deepest lake, carved into the landscape by a glacier. Owned by the National Trust, Wastwater is also known for being a lake that’s not easy to reach directly. Its northern tip is at Wasdale Head – the site of a remote National Trist campsite and the last pub for miles, The Wasdale Inn – popular with walkers after their adventures in the western fells. Accessible by a remote road and with a circular lake walk available, the feeling of rugged wilderness is hard to beat, so for that feeling of isolation and a distinct lack of intrusive lighting, Wastwater tops our list. The lake is also popular for wild swimming, and a luxury B&B experience also awaits, at 1692 Wasdale, with more options at Select Cottages.
During your Eskdale and Wasdale adventure, marvel at two nearby rushing rivers, one of which – The Whillan Beck, flows down from Scafell and carries water across a vast expanse of moorland around Burnmoor Tarn before cascading down a waterfall.
Meanwhile, the River Esk flows from the mountains of Esk Pike and Great End, resulting in an enormous plateau under the watchful eye of several of the highest peaks as a stunning backdrop before continuing its journey towards the coast. Family members of all ages will love following its path, taking pleasure in stepping-stones, spring bluebells and lovely mushrooms and toadstools along the way.
The Hardknott Pass offers further breath-taking views and even boasts a Roman Fort – quenching the thirst of heritage and history buffs and landscape lovers in equal measure, while the Wrynose Pass is sure to create motoring memories sure to last a lifetime! Historic Peat Huts, stone circles – some of which date back 5,000 years and the Hardknott Roman Fort all add further to the fascinating mystery and intrigue that is on-offer here.
For those who’d prefer to let a train take the strain – why not take a steam-engine hauled journey? Dalegarth station near the Eskdale Valley is a 45 minute journey from Ravenglass – the Lake District National Park’s only coastal village. Further exploration opportunities await you here, including the mighty Muncaster Castle – once used by the Romans to keep their wine and other supplies well-stocked!
You can even explore England’s oldest watermill. The brilliant Eskdale Mill is the last remaining working water-powered corn mill in the Lake District National Park. This traditional watermill and drying kiln sits in Boot village alongside the fast-flowing Whillan Beck. Recently re-opened, it’s an essential part of any Western Lake District itinerary.
The nearby Ennerdale has been completely forested and is in a long mountain valley with various crags to see and climb. Cited by Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington as one of his favourite places in Cumbria, much re-planting has been done where original conifers had been cut down during its time as a plantation area, with the return of many different and original species.
But don’t just take our word for it – Do come discover this glorious part of the world when you’re able to do so, safely and legally – We can’t wait to welcome you!