The wild scenery and 2,000 foot drop of “The Screes” into England’s deepest lake is the last place you would expect to find a garden tea party of gnomes. Wastwater, in the western part of the Lake District National Park, is the deepest lake in England at 79 metres (258 feet). The Wasdale valley, home to Wastwater, is a glacially ‘over-deepened’ valley and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in England. Yet under the surface, far removed from the safety of neat lawn edges and squeaky clean garden beds, there are garden gnomes. Originating from Germany in the 19th century, the “garden dwarf” was produced for the purpose of ornamentation and protection from evil sorcery. An eerie twist of fate for these little chaps when you consider the wild surroundings … or is it just a bit of fun? This is a question for the diving community, amongst whom Wastwater is very popular diving location and the existence of these gnomes is well known. Police divers in the past have removed them, in fear of luring inexperienced divers, but the gnomes keep coming back. They are still there and according to the Kendal and Lakes Sub Aqua Club the garden gnomes are a bit of fun providing divers with something to look at rather than just mud. It is said that Wastwater is clearer at 50m (165ft) than Windermere is at 10m (30ft) and so an ideal site for these deep water sites.
Police say divers should not put themselves at unnecessary risk looking for gnomes in Wastwater. Wastwater is three miles long, half a mile wide and about 80m deep, the deepest in the Lake District. The water is very cold and puts extra pressure on the body. The very clear water can give a false sense of security. A spokesperson from the Sub-Aqua Association warned that you have to be an experienced diver with all the necessary safety precautions to go deep water diving in Wastwater. For more information visit: BBC article in 2007 BBC article in 2012 Kendal and Lakes Sub Aqua Club Penrith Divers