It was in 1930 that the 23 year old Alfred Wainwright first visited the Lake District from his home in Blackburn. Having alighted from the train at Windermere he climbed the path that starts just outside the station and goes to the viewpoint of Orrest Head.
Many years later he wrote in his autobiographical Ex-Fellwanderer:
"...quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. ..."
So enchanted was he by the views of fells and lakes that they changed his life, and he in turn changed the lives of many others with his Pictorial Guides which quickly became synonymous with the Lake District.
Orrest Head is situated on the northern edge of Windermere not far from the railway station and the town centre. Its accessibility and position looking over Windermere with views into the heart of the fells ensures the little summit is always busy.
Our route here follows Wainwright's full walk in The Outlying Fells of Lakeland, of course from the viewpoint you could simply retrace your steps to return to Windermere.
There are at least 2 laybys close to the start of the walk with parking also available in Windermere, as well as being well served by public transport.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
On the main A591 opposite Windermere railway station, standing beside a pelican crossing is a set of prominent railings currently painted green. Behind the railings a large sign declares Orrest Head with a hand pointing up a private tarmac lane. Take the lane keeping to the tarmac following its twists, turns and in the upper reaches, hairpins through Elleray woods.
Eventually reaching the smithy the tarmac ends. After the buildings bear right and follow the rough scarred path climbing through the trees. Reaching the wall barring the way at the top, turn right, the path is now more level and consolidated. Turn left through the gateway with the Heywood memorial stones set in the wall either side.
Climb the steps ahead to the viewpoint. The slate Wainwright diorama gives an outline of the fells on view.
You can retrace your steps or, as Wainwright suggests, we follow his extended route.
Continue, roughly north, over the viewpoint area following the path steeply down through the bracken. Bearing slightly right descend to a signpost and stone stile. The path splits here with a short-cut going across the field on the left - ignore it. Instead cross the stone stile in front of you and descend more gently through the pastoral scenery following as best as you can a vague pathway through the field to a gateway onto the minor road near Causeway Farm.
At the road turn left, after ¾km bear left at the junction and follow this equally minor lane down to the A592 Troutbeck/Kirstone road. Do not turn onto this busy road but turn sharp left through an ornate iron gateway into parkland. Follow the track across the driveway and continue ahead into the woods. Drop down to and cross the little footbridge. In early spring the woods are alive with the pungent but lovely wild garlic. Climb the steps into a narrow lane above houses.
This lane meanders gently often with private grounds on either side which you should not go in to - there are plenty of warning signs. Largely it is a case of continuing ahead, the narrow lane being clear. At the far end it rejoins just at the bottom of the tarmac lane used on the ascent. Bear right and return to Windermere.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Brant Fell above Bowness-on-Windermere||2.0km (1.2 miles) away|
|Cockshot Point stroll from Bowness on Windermere||2.3km (1.4 miles) away|
|Sour Howes and Sallows||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Troutbeck Tongue||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Moss Eccles Tarn and Claife Heights||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011