A Lake District lake was mentioned today with reference to some rather unhappy circumstances. Wastwater in the Wasdale Valley is the deepest lake in England at 258 feet. Popular with deep water divers, its surface, at approximately 200 feet above sea level, plumbs down to depths over 50 feet below sea level. Sadly, a diver was lost at Wastwater yesterday and has not been found despite 24 hours of search and rescue efforts.
The Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team writes: ‘On Sunday the team was called out to search for a diver who had failed to surface on Wastwater. The team searched the water’s edge on foot and the lake using the team boat as part of a multi-agency response. The team boat was used overnight and on Monday to assist the Police Diving Unit. The search had to be suspended late on Monday afternoon as weather conditions deteriorated. Our thoughts are with the diver’s family and friends.’ (www.wmrt.org.uk)
Wastwater is not far from Blenheim Lodge Guest House, and we have regular guests who go there to scramble the Wastwater Screes. It is located in the lonely and picturesque Wasdale Valley, and owned by the National Trust. ‘In an ITV television program in 2007, Wastwater [was] named . . . Britain’s favourite view after the public chose from four landscapes.’ (www.visitcumbria.com/wc/wastwater.htm)
However, lovely though Wastwater is, visitors should always respect the raw power of wild environs and never underestimate any dangers they might encounter. Untoward incidents do occur, sometimes when least expected and despite all precautions. And unfortunately, such unhappy traumas do create knock-on effects on those who care for loved ones in peril, as well as the search and rescue teams who must risk their own lives to locate and hopefully save them. The story of the missing diver brings me to a report on Wastwater that makes for thoughtful reading:
In February 2005 it was reported that a “gnome garden” complete with picket fence had been placed in the lake as a point of interest for divers to explore. It was removed from the bottom of Wastwater after three divers died in the late 1990s. It is thought the divers spent too much time too deep searching for the ornaments. Police divers report a rumour that the garden had been replaced at a depth beyond which they were allowed to dive. PC Kenny McMahon, a member of the North West Police Underwater Search Unit, said “Wastwater is quite clear at the bottom, but there’s nothing to see. At a depth of about 48m, divers had taken gnomes down and put a picket fence around them. But several years ago there were a number of fatalities and the Lake District National Park Authority asked us to get rid of them. We went down there, put them in bags and removed the lot. But now there’s a rumour about a new garden beyond the 50m depth limit. As police divers we can’t legally dive any deeper so, if it exists, the new garden could have been purposefully put out of our reach.”
Weatherline is a service run by the Lake District National Park which ‘features data direct from the Met Office, with a five day forecast. Between December and April [their] Fell Top Assessors record winter conditions daily from Helvellyn, the Lake District’s busiest mountain in winter.’ (www.lakedistrict.gov.uk) At Blenheim Lodge, we advise walkers who ask about weather conditions to check with Weatherline (www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk). Weatherline also operates a telephone service which callers can access whilst out and about; and taking care in the light of such useful information may save lives.
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’