Wasdale Head Campsite The National Trust

UK England North West England Cumbria Wasdale

  • Electrical hook-ups
  • Laundry
  • Dogs welcome
  • Good walks nearby
Top wilderness location for hiking and climbing; great views of the high fells

England’s highest mountains may not be on the scale of the Alps, the Andes or the Himalayas, but they are impressive in their own understated way. They also have the advantage of being readily accessible and in most seasons they can be conquered relatively easily with the help of a pair of decent walking boots, favourable weather and a thermos of hot tea.

Several of the country’s highest mountains are clustered around the northern end of Wastwater in the Lakes, where the National Trust has thoughtfully sited a camping ground at Wasdale Head. From here, you can lie in a sleeping bag, head poking out of your tent and as the dawn mist clears, you’re able to survey the surrounding slopes and plan your ascent on these high fells. Alternatively, you may want to reach for the camping stove and kettle, stay snug in your sleeping bag and enjoy this most vertical of views from your horizontal vantage point.

Most visitors come here to get a bit closer and Wasdale Head is a handy base for Scafell Pike, being the start of one of the shorter but steeper ascents on the rock-strewn summit.

Back at base camp there’s a small shop for walking maps, friendly advice and blister-shaped plasters. Aside from the shop and the tidy, wooden shower block, facilities are not over-extravagant. Three small fields scattered with mature and planted trees provide plenty of flat grass for pitching, and with cars restricted to the designated parking areas, it’s a peaceful site. Definitely a high point on England’s campsite circuit.



Timed barrier system for arrivals (8–11am; 5–8pm), though with an advance reservation you can get in any time. Hot showers, flush toilets, disabled facilities, washing machines and dryers. Small shop selling food and camping essentials. No campfires, no disposable BBQs.

Suitable For

Tents, campervans, dogs (on leads at all times) – yes. Caravans, groups – no.


Treat yourself to some tea room goodies or just a bag of flour at Muncaster Watermill (01229 717232), a traditional village mill that’s been in operation since 1455. Great family days out can be had on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (01229 717171) or at nearby haunted Muncaster Castle (01229 717614).

Food & Drink

Buy direct from the farmer at Wasdale Head Hall Farm (01946 726245). They rear a large number of Herdwicks (local sheep suited to the harsh conditions on the high fells), as well as a herd of tough, hardy Galloway cattle. The Wasdale Head Inn (01946 726229) is the hikers’ and climbers’ favourite and reputedly home to the biggest liar in the world (take that with a pinch of salt). They also serve hearty, wholesome food for under a tenner. Otherwise it’s the Strands Inn (01946 726237), 5 miles back down the road to Gosforth.

Opening Times

All year.

The Owner Says

The campsite is situated in the remote western valley of Wasdale between Wastwater and Wasdale Head. It provides easy access to the highest mountains in the lakes, including England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike.

Wasdale is definitely the place for high fell walkers and climbers, but also affords handy access to all that the West Cumbrian coast has to offer. It's open all year round and boasts seven camping pods in addition to regular camping pitches and there are also a couple of Nordic tipis for hire.

The site offers the main facilities you’d expect from a modern campsite including a small shop which sells all of the basics plus a few local specialities.

Book online to secure your pitch - it’s a fair drive in to Wasdale so we’d hate for you to turn up and find that we’re already full.

Our staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the area and will be happy to answer your questions. Be sure to ask for advice about the best walking routes if you’re unfamiliar with Wasdale.

As a National Trust campsite, your fees contribute to the Trust's conservation projects in Wasdale, so your stay directly helps to look after the stunning countryside you’ll enjoy whilst you’re here.


Wasdale Head Campsite, Wasdale Head, Seascale, Cumbria CA20 1EX

Show Map

Getting There

Approaching from the south on the main A595,turn right at Holmrook for Santon Bridge and follow the signs up to Wasdale Head. Approaching from the north, turn left at Gosforth.


Add Your Review

Rated ★★★★★ over 11 reviews


Expectations were high

There can be no doubt that the setting for the NT’s Wasdale campsite is absolutely magnificent, that the facilities are first rate and that the campsite is immaculately maintained, however, the campervan pitches do leave something to be desired. To maintain privacy between the pitches they are hedged on three sides and with pine trees behind it feels like you are living in a green box. With this lack of view there was no inclination to sit outside the van in the limited space available. I had a wander around the site and although we have stayed on a number of NT sites not one of them seems to attempt to obliterate the view quite like Wasdale does. If you are thinking of Wasdale as a base for walking then this campsite is ideal but don’t expect to be camping amongst stunning scenery, it is such a shame.
Sep 19, 2019 by GreenCamper

lovely walkng campsite.

this is a top campsite, good staff always helpful and pleasant. location one of the best in the world.
Jun 27, 2018 by francis

Walkers' Paradise

If, like me, you are reliant on public transport, this campsite can be reached by taking a mainline train to Ravenglass before taking the Ravenglass & Eksdale Railway (a worthwhile experience in itself) to Dalegarth. From Dalegarth it is a five mile walk on the old corpse road over Eskdale Moor, past Burnmoor tarn and down into Wasdale. As long as you remember your map and have a reasonable sense or direction, this is an easy enough journey to make and well worth it.

The campsite itself is beautifully situated with various views of Wast Water, Great Gable, the Scafell massif, Yew Barrow and other ridiculously picturesque views. The shop and Reception, whilst small, are adequate, and the staff are friendly and full of local knowledge and advice. The facilities are clean and well-appointed. I have read some reviews stating that there is a charge for the showers but, as of 02/06/2015, I can confirm that there was no charge.
Whatever you decide to do when stopping here I urge you to go to the Wasdale Head Inn at least once (or every night in my case). The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the food is delicious and well-price. Reward yourself after a day on the pinnacle of England with a well-pulled pint, choosing from a wide selection of ales.
I wish I had plans to stay there again this weekend, but alas...

Jun 2, 2015 by fatuoussunbeam

Excellent base for exploring

Stayed here over the Easter weekend, the campsite was quite busy although only to be expected on a bank holiday weekend.  There was ample space to choose a pitch from especially if you were happy to be away from the facilities, there are lots of little corners and out of the way places.

Facilities were excellent and super clean.  The shop is well stocked if you need the basics and the staff were very friendly and helpful. 

An excellent base for exploring.

Apr 9, 2015 by mcbrx

Ideal walking base

Great little site, with lots of trees and hedges to break up the pitches. Quiet outside of school holidays - only about 15 pitches occupied in mid-September. No cars allowed on the grass, but you can park on the gravel track that runs around the outside so you can get close if you pitch on the edges. Ground is uneven in places, so might be difficult to find a spot for a large tent. The toilet/washing facilities are excellent.

The views are gorgeous and it's very quiet - no traffic noise and people seem to respect the 10pm noise curfew. However, the generator behind the toilet block runs 24/7 which can be annoying at night. Also, the site is popular with D of E and school groups, so it's not silent. Bring your insect repellent - there are a few mozzies.

Perfectly situated for walking, with loads of possibilities right from the site. It's remote though - 20 min drive along single-track roads; only one shop and one pub in the valley. You won't get phone signal or wi-fi anywhere, so plan beforehand.

Sep 26, 2014 by theeyecollector

Fantastic walking base

We stayed at Wasdale Head with our dog for a two night Lakes District walking holiday. The location is unparalleled - right at the foot of some of the best hiking in the country in one of the most beautiful valleys in England. The campsite is green and lovely, the bathrooms spotless and the little shop well stocked. Hope to be back there soon!

Aug 28, 2014 by fifimaree

Wasdale Was Dope

I'm sorry - I tried. We stayed here as a foursome for a couple nights in June, and absolutely loved it. It's a very quiet and very winding road up past the lake to the campsite - not counting the sheep lounging about the place. 

The campsite was quiet and very well-maintained, and the staff were friendly and helpful. The shower and washroom facilities were excellent and clean. I enjoyed that the portion of the campsite in the middle was for tents only, so it felt a bit more like you were definitely away from it all. It's a shame there weren't a few more trees to sort of hide away in, but most campsites here in the UK tend to be more open than their North American counterparts. We ate in the nearby pub one night which was delicious and filling after a day spent in very bracing winds, and spent the walk back bat-watching in the dark.

All in all a lovely place to put your head down for some Lakes adventuring - and do bring strong insect repellent, the wee nippers were about in force.

Aug 20, 2013 by danamonty

Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

This is a stunning area and definitely somewhere to go if you want to get away from it all, no shops nearby (except for the campsite shop on site), no phone reception. 

We camped next to the river which was lovely and very amusing to hear the sheep come clattering up the river bed and look slightly bemused that a tent had appeared there!

The facilities were very clean and well equipped. Although we were a little miffed at having to pay for showers they were very good showers and 20p seemed to get you a good 15 minutes. Also did clothes washing on site which was good, £3 for a wash and the tumble dryer takes 50p for 20 minutes I think! We were in the lakes for 2 weeks so it was a necessity after a week to wash clothes!!

Great access to the mountains and the lake, and Wasdale Head Inn is a very well placed pub for drink and grub after a hike!

Would definitely go again!

Jun 7, 2013 by KATE

Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

wow, Wasdale...don't miss this place. The West lakes for me are where it's at - wilder and more dramatic than its eastern neighbours (which I also love). We arrived there coming up and over Wrynose Pass and Hardknott pass, much to the surprise of the other cars as we did it in our bright yellow 20 year old hippy camper van. We only just made it but anyone in a regular car has got to arrive this way - it is spectacular.

In the summer the Lakes get pretty rammed so Wasdale is a great place to get away from the weekend madness - fewer people venture that far it seems, although in the summer it does tend to fill up with people doing the 3 peaks so you get to see a lot of ambulance and mountain rescue helicopters charging around the place.

The Wasdale campsite is ideal if you're seriously about the hiking when you come to the lakes with Scafell Pike right on your doorstep. Literally. And the second time I went we took an inflatable kayak and we almost had the whole of Wastwater to ourselves.

Like it seems with most NT campsites, this is designed for campers more than vanners. With spectacular views all round the vanners are given secluded wooded areas so you could be anywhere. To be honest next time I might just pitch my tent - utterly amazing for campers who get incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

Facilities are good. Nice and clean. Staff are friendly and helpful.

Pub is a short walk down the road and you can get surprisingly good food there and a nice line of ales.

For technomads: Absolutely no mobile phone reception or broadband coverage, other than one tiny spot over a wooden bridge (which the staff will tell you about) and then as you start climbing up Scafell so I was able to make a phone call and check a couple of emails before skipping up England's highest peak.

Jul 6, 2011 by SELINA BARKER

Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

When we mentioned to friends that we were going to the Lake District, we were recommended to Wasdale Head- and we weren’t disappointed. Waking up and poking your head out the tent and seeing Scarfell Pike looming over you is incredible. The facilities on site were great with more than adequate showers, a covered washing up area and a little shop selling local organic foods and ice block freezing; the staff are very helpful. The nearby Wasdale Inn is brilliant for homely food when you’ve come down from the hills with wobbly legs and is comforting on wet and cold evenings. This site is brilliant for getting away from the hustle and bustle of life, the scenery is fantastic. Our week was rather rainy and we longed for use of one of the wooden pods on site but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would definately return again.
May 25, 2011 by raijones

Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

Wasdale Head campsite is quite simply the reason I love camping. I’ve been visiting here since my boyhood grown up to be rather fond of this place. It’s the feeling of complete disconnection with the rat race that is so hard to get in the UK that I love having here. Climbs up Scafell Pike and Great Gable are always a pleasant way to spend the day, and the pub down the road (the Wasdale Head Inn) is a great way to finish it. In the winter it’s warm and cosy and full of like minded people who’ve braved the cold, and in the summer, sitting out in the back by the river is wonderful. The food is basic and served like school dinners, but tasty and wholesome after a days walking. A word of warning for groups. Like a lot of campsites, group sizes are limited and they’re a bit rigid on this. If there’s a few of you, book as separate groups and spread your tents out otherwise there’s a risk you won’t be let in.
May 24, 2011 by Shermy

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