Wasdale is a remote valley in the English Lake District. It boasts England's deepest lake, highest mountain, smallest church...and biggest liar
Will Ritson ran a Wasdale pub in the nineteenth century and became famous for his tall tales and improbable stories. He used to tell gullible Victorian tourists that turnips in the dale grew so large that families quarried into them for their meals and then used the hollowed-out remains as barns for their sheep.
Every year the Bridge Inn hosts the contest to find the World's Biggest Liar, in honour of Auld Will. Competitors are invited from all round the world, and come from as far afield as Sweden and South Africa. According to organisers, it's not unknown for there to be a famous face or two in the audience - 2007 reportedly saw Tom Cruise at one end of the bar, and Tony Blair, a man who knows a thing or two about lying, at the other
. The audience have heard how mermaids are farmed in Wastwater, claims that the geology of the Lake District was formed by giant moles, and the assertion that wind farms aren't built to generate electricity, but to slowly and sneakily propel Britain south to warmer climes.
The 2004 winner revealed plans for Wasdale to be flooded and the sheep to be replaced by fish farming
. Residents whose homes would be flooded "would be allowed to keep their homes, with air locks at the door, and cat or dog fish flaps." In 2006 comedian Sue Perkins became the first woman to ever hold the title
, with a lie about global warming caused by local sheep ('muttons of mass destruction'). Previous winners include local shepherd and fellrunning hero, Joss Naylor
. But none have been as successful as the seven time title holder, Silloth farmer John 'Johnny Liar' Graham, whose fame has spread as far as China
It's claimed that a special record for the fastest ever winner is held by a past Bishop of Carlisle, who stopped off at the pub on the night that the contest was taking place, announced in disgust that 'I have never told a lie in my life', and was promptly acclaimed the winner.
Politicians and members of the legal profession are barred from entry
into the contest, as they are regarded as "too practised in the art".