Waitby has an old and important history and predates Kirkby Stephen in significance with its early community centred round Waitby Castle (earthworks). There is also the ruins of an old small church.
Smardale grew alongside and part of Waitby. The Warcop family of Lammerside Castle moved to Smardale Hall after abandoning Lammerside. The current turreted Smardale Hall replaced the earlier tower house.
The old Primary School that served Waitby and Smardale is now luxury holiday accommodation known as Waitby School.
Waitby has been criss-crossed by railways, the Settle to Carlisle is still there passing close to Smardale Hall but the Eden Valley railway was closed in 1960. There is a nature reserve on part of this disused railway called Waitby Greenriggs and managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
There was a mill at Smardale and you will still see this signposted from Kirkby Stephen.