Wasdale Head

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St. Olaf's Church.jpg

Wasdale Head is a small agricultural village in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England. The village claims to be home of the highest mountain (Scafell Pike), deepest lake (Wastwater), smallest church and biggest liar in England. The last of these claims refers to Will Ritson, who proclaimed himself as such.

It is located at the "head" of the valley of Wasdale, and is surrounded by some of England's highest mountains: Scafell Pike, Sca Fell, Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar.

For many centuries[citation needed] it has been a starting point for walks and climbing trips into the mountains. Today, it is the recognised starting point for the ascent of Scafell Pike as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge, a vehicle supported walk of the highest peaks of England, Scotland and Wales, which is regarded with mixed feelings by residents and regular walkers.

Close to the village is St Olaf's Church, which has a reputation of being the smallest church in England.

Will Ritson (1808–1890) was a landlord of the Wastwater Hotel (now called the Wasdale Head Inn) in Wasdale, and he told grand fables. One, for example, was about a wounded eagle he found near the inn. He kept it in his chicken coop and nursed it back to health. One night the coop was raided by a bitch hound. The eagle was unscathed, but five months later the dog gave birth to a litter of winged hounds. The World's Biggest Liar competition is held annually in his memory.


  • Adam Nicolson and Nick Meers, Panoramas of England, 1997, London: Orion (p. 102)

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Coordinates: 54°28′N 3°15′W / 54.467°N 3.250°W / 54.467; -3.250