Wasdale Head

Wasdale Head

A remote Lake District village is gearing up for its annual invasion of thousands of footsore walkers bursting to tackle England’s highest peak.

The throngs that converge on Wasdale Head as the summer days stretch to their longest cause immense problems for the tiny community, famed for having the smallest church, deepest lake, biggest liar, highest mountain and greatest problems.

Many Three Peaks Challengers arrive in the dead of the night at the village, the starting point for the quickest ascent of Scafell Pike, and bring with them increased litter, congestion and sanitary problems. The 978m (3,209ft) peak is often tackled as part of the 24-hour challenge to summit it, with Ben Nevis and Snowdon, in one trip.

Now, the village has responded with a campaign that sees new temporary toilets installed, improved parking and litter facilities, and the setting up of a community trust. The Wasdale Head Community Partnership is working with the Lake District National Park Authority to improve facilities. The existing small toilet, behind the village’s hotel, cannot cope with the influx of walkers. The new loos will open on Saturday.

Bob Cartwright, LDNPA’s director of park services, said: “We know how difficult life can be for residents of this honey pot location which attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year, including the many that compete in the Three Peaks Challenge.

“With limited car park spaces and toilets, the valley has suffered extreme pressure. When the community approached me in a bid to remedy the situation, I was delighted to help.

“A new £30,000 temporary toilet block has been given planning permission for three years and is in a better location for visitors. It’s not a perfect solution, but will make a significant difference to local people and is a measure of our commitment to them.

“It also buys time to come up with a more comprehensive solution to the valley’s problems and work towards a more sustainable future for Wasdale.

“We are working closely with residents, farmers and business people, as well as Wasdale Parish Meeting, National Trust, Copeland Borough and Cumbria County Councils. Care International, a charity that benefits from Three Peaks’ events, is also giving invaluable help.

“Across the national park, communities are working together and this is a perfect example of how help and solutions can be found.”

Wasdale Head is also a starting point for numerous peaks in the area, including Great Gable, Pillar, Yewbarrow and the Mosedale horseshoe.

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