The view from Orrest Head on the eastern edge of Windermere is possibly one of the most important in the Lake District, and it's certainly one of the loveliest!
In 1930, a twenty-three-year-old man from Blackburn visited the Lake District for the very first time. He climbed to the top of Orrest Head and, as he puts it: "Those few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life forever." He was so blown away by the view that he quit his job, moved up here, and spent the rest of his life producing his iconic walking guides.
Yes, I'm talking, of course, about Alfred Wainwright!
I usually put a warning here about how you need to be prepared for the high Lake District fells, but Orrest Head isn’t all that high and the route up is so easy that you really don’t need to worry about carting a big rucksack with you. An extra layer of clothing is always a good idea, though! It’s also definitely worth taking a flask and something to eat as the views at the top are superb and there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy them.
There are several ways up Orrest Head and none of them are too tricky. If you don’t mind a tiny spot of navigating, then look for the route up through Common Wood, which is just lovely. It’s also a bit muddier and definitely steeper than this nice, easy option.
The main route is well signposted and leads off up the tarmac track next to the hotel, over the road and just down the way from the station, near the pedestrian crossing. It’s tarmac for most of the way so, although uphill, is very easy to follow. If you’re not used to hills then just give yourself more time and take a bit longer, it’s really not a race. The rocks around the peak are several hundred million years old, so they’ll still be there when you get to the top!
Keep winding on through the woods until you pop out onto the rocky summit to take in that awesome and inspiring view. There are lots of benches up here, so you can sit down, have a rest, and really appreciate your surroundings.
Although this particular fell isn't very high, it punches well above its weight when it comes to views from the top. Many walkers are taken in by the stunning outlook over Windermere, but don't let that distract you from taking a good look around the rest, too: it really is breathtaking in every direction! For those who want to know a little more, there's an information board telling you a bit about Wainwright and his first visit.
If you promise to take a torch and plenty of warm clothing, then this is a great place to settle down and watch a romantic sunset over the distant fells. Just imagine it: hot soup in your flask, a nice chunk of your favourite bread, and a big thick coat and blanket, all snuggled on a bench with the one you love while you watch the sun go down. The torch is vital to help you find your way back down again - even easy fells become much harder to navigate in the dark!
Whatever time of day you head up Orrest Head, once you’re all done it’s just a case of following the track back down into Windermere where you'll find plenty of local bars and cosy cafés to replenish yourself. Or you might head back to one of our wonderful holiday cottages in the area!
If you're looking for even more walking options, take a look at our other easy Lake District walks.