Watendlath is one of the best examples of a 'hanging valley' in the Lake District, sitting high in the fells to the east of Borrowdale. Watendlath is the name of both the valley and the tiny hamlet that nestles at its far end, at the northern end of Watendlath Tarn. The hamlet of Watendlath is the setting for Judith Paris, one of Sir Hugh Walpole's Rogue Herries series of novels. Since then the road and electricity have both arrived, but otherwise the area remains largely as Walpole described it.
Watendlath is surrounded by interesting looking fells, although the interest falls away a little to the east and south once one gets past the immediate area of the tarn. In contrast the fells to the west maintain their interest very well, and are characterised by complex rocky outcropping poking out of a covering of heather. The views from the top of this line of fells are very impressive, with Helvellyn seen over the intermediate heights to the east, while to the west there are impressive views down into Borrowdale and across Derwentwater, and over the valley towards Great Gable and the high central fells.
Watendlath is reached along a very narrow twisty road, often closely lined with stone walls. The lower part of the road, before it actually entered Watendlath, passes two of the best viewpoints in the district - Ashness Bridge, with its famous view back towards Keswick and Skiddaw, and the 'Surprise View', from the top of an unexpected rocky outcropping.
At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, some of Watendlath belonged to Fountains Abbey, and was given to Richard Gremes, probably a former monk of the abbey. At this point the name was recorded as Wattenland.
Watendlath beck runs north along the valley, before plummeting down Lodore Falls to reach Derwent Water.