Walks: Orrest Head


The trickiest part of the walk is to locate the start.

These days the walk is clearly signed but in the past the signboard could have easily mistaken for a guest house board.

This is my excuse for not locating the walk when I first stayed in Windermere 40 years ago with Eileen. (We were on honeymoon so perhaps I had other things on my mind).

From the station approach turn right and find a safe way to cross the busy A591 in front of the Windermere Hotel.

Turn left to reach a side lane. Here large unmissable noticeboards indicate you are on the route to Elleray Wood and Orrest Head. The tarmac lane leads quite steeply upwards past the large property of Orrest Howe and then after a farm enters woodland. Keep on the main track as it zig zags up through the trees to reach a gate in the wall to the right.

Continue on a path between a wall and fence with open fields to the right. At the end turn left through a kissing gate leading onto a rocky path leading to the summit.

If you are ready for a rest you’re in luck as there are a number of benches on this top. And what can be seen? Most obviously the serpentine Windermere, England’s longest lake at 10 1⁄2 miles.

To the south, Morecambe Bay and then to the west and north a sweeping panorama of Lakeland.

This is what Wainwright wrote about his experience of climbing Orrest Head for the first time. “..quite suddenly we emerged from the shadows of the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had been dramatically drawn aside, I beheld a truly magnificent view...This was truth.

God was in heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.” You may not be transformed in the same way as AW was but I defy anyone to find a walk as short with a better view.

Start: Windermere Station (LA23 1AH)

Distance: 1 .5 miles to the top and back

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes up, 20 minutes admiring the view, 20 minutes down – a perfect workout

Summary: If you don’t mind a 20 minute climb – easy

Map: OS OL7 The English Lakes South Eastern area