What To Do

Orrest Head

map_orrestMap based on Ordnance Survey mapping by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. © Crown Copyright.

Distance: 10 miles/16km

Height gain: 950feet (290m)

Walking time: 5 hours

Type of walk: An easy progression along low-level paths, tracks and roads.

Start/Finish: Windermere railway station. GR414987.

Orrest Head above Windermere has long been proclaimed one of the finest viewpoints in the Lake District. It certainly offers an extensive panorama and it is very easy to reach on foot. It is all too easy and many walkers would pine for something with a bit more distance. This walk is taken beyond Orrest Head, linking paths, tracks and minor roads to explore a quiet and relatively unfrequented countryside on the doorstep of bustling Windermere. The first objective is Orrest Head, praised by poets and writers from Wordsworth to Wainwright. Windermere railway station also serves as the town’s bus station and has parking available nearby, as well as a busy Tourist Information Centre.

Leave the station area and cross the busy main road, keeping to the left side of the Windermere Hotel. An access road and a woodland path lead up to the bare hump of rock which is crowned with a view indicator. The ascent takes only a matter of minutes from the bustling town of Windermere. Take in the wonderful view, storing the details in memory to compare and contrast with other viewpoints. Wordsworth described it as “a universe of Nature’s fairest forms”.

Looking roughly northwards from Orrest Head a white farmstead can be seen, called Causeway. A path seems to head straight towards it, but is deflected to the right of the farm to a minor road. Turn right to follow the road, then within a short while turn left through the farmyard at Near Orrest. White painted stiles and yellow arrow waymarks indicate the field path running from Near Orrest to Far Orrest. Keep to the right of Far Orrest, following signs reading “Garburn Troutbeck”.

A narrow, walled lane and a track through fields lead onward to another minor road. Turn right, then left, where a sign reads: “To Kentmere via Garburn Pass”. A broad, stony lane leads gradually uphill, intent on reaching the High Street fells in the distance. Save the high fells for another day, and instead look out for the prominent campsite of Limefitt Park in the valley below. When walking above the campsite, cross a stile on the right and walk uphill to cross another stile. Turn right to follow the course of another broad, stony lane. This eventually leads down past Dubbs Reservoir and runs into a tarmac road.

Bear left to follow this minor road, and keep to the left to pass other road junctions. Count off the turnings and take the third road off to the right. This road leads past Mislet Farm and continues towards Heaning. Just before reaching Heaning, branch off to the left along a track and follow an access road to the busy A591 road, which needs to be crossed with care.

Straight across the main road a quiet farm road leads across a railway line, passing the farms of Blackmoss and Yews. Just after passing Yews, a path off to the right cuts a corner to reach a nearby minor road. Turn right along this road, then follow Dales Way signs on the way past Hag End Farm. Cross a gap in some low hills and descend to a gate beside a stand of four trees. Turn right to reach a small tarn, then turn left to climb to the summit of School Knott. This minor hill offers a fine view towards the end of the walk.

Leave the summit of School Knott by walking in the direction of Windermere town. A tarmac pathway is reached and this should be followed off to the right. Cross an arched bridge on the left and walk down to Droomer Drive. This residential road leads towards the centre of Windermere.

From ‘Lake District: Eastern Fells’ by Paddy Dillon


The information given in this walk has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a general guide. Whilst all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that details were correct at the time of publication, the author and Country Publications Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for inaccuracies. It is the responsibility of individuals undertaking outdoor activities to approach the activity with caution and, especially if inexperienced, to do so under appropriate supervision. The activity described in this walk is strenuous and individuals should ensure that they are suitably fit before embarking upon it. They should carry the appropriate equipment and maps, be properly clothed and have adequate footwear. They should also take note of weather conditions and forecasts, and leave notice of their intended route and estimated time of return.