Rory Calland
Visit Cumbria, Wastwater

Wastwater, Overbeck, Wasdale, CA20 1EX – Visit Now

Here’s one to tick off – Wastwater is the deepest lake in England at 258 feet and one of the most dramatic spots in the country to go wild swimming. This National Trust owned lake is settled in the wide bowl of Wasdale valley, on one side colossal scree slopes provide a looming backboard, while on the other the valley has a spareness to it. That feeling of openness and seclusion makes the lake feel more like a mountain tarn, just on a humbling scale. This is one of those lakes where wading into its cold and clear waters really revitalises and purges the body.

This glacial lake feels expansive in every direction, the fathoms of water below, the volcanic rock that stretches up to 2000 feet and the dale stretching out ahead. At some point it seems there was actually a secret gnome garden right at the depths of the lake, how it got there is anyone’s guess. There’s no way of getting deep enough to check – there is however a way of going to another extreme as the Wasdale Valley features the start of a track leading to the summit of England’s loftiest peak, Scafell Pike. Great Gable and Lingmell are also accessible from here.

The road along the northwest shore of Wastwater has plenty of places to park, so it’s quite easy to just rock up here in a car and choose your spot. Right at the northernmost end of the lake is a car park and campsite too – this is a stunning place to watch the stars. If you were looking to make a day and a night of it you could set up shop here, take the trek to the summit of Scafell Pike, then return to camp for a night swim and a toasty lakeside fire.