Walks in The Lake District
Buy our CD/DVD walking books here
Summer Mega Sale!

Orrest Head from Windermere


Videowalk available!

This walk, or a similar walk, is available to download from our Videowalks web site for just £1.49. The video walks take the form of detailed slideshows (typically around 20 minutes each) taking you all around the route, along with photographs and video clips of what you can see along the way. The walks also come with printable directions in pdf format, including a 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map excerpt showing the route and photographs showing key directions.

Click here for details


A short circular from Windermere to Orrest Head, which was Wainwright's introduction to the Lake District. On a clear day, the ratio of views to effort put in probably cannot be beaten. The walk starts on the A591 by the large 'Orrest Head' sign and follows a lane most of the way on its 20 minute journey to the summit. From the summit, you could just return back down to the start, but the walk as described heads north to join a lane briefly near Causeway Farm. It then heads to enter a delightful woodland section through St Catherine's Wood and then via High Hay Wood back to the start. Wainwright said of Orrest "Orrest Head for many of us, is 'where we came in' - our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty. It is a popular walk, deservedly, for here the promised land is seen in all its glory. It is a fitting finale, too, to a life made happy be fellwandering. Dare we hope there will be another Orrest Head over the threshold of the next heaven?"


Parking: Small amount of roadside parking in laybys near to the start (grid reference SD 412 987). The added bonus - time limit in laybys applies. There is a lot of parking nearby in Windermere, then just walk back up the road to the start of the walk at the junction of the A591 and A5074, just opposite the entrance to the station.
Directions: Nearest post code for Sat Nav: LA23 1WY - get directions here
Walk distance: 2.7 miles (4.3 Km)
Estimated walk time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Height climbed: 210 metres
Grade: 1-B: A short walk that requires modest uphill walking
Peaks / summits: Orrest Head 238m (783 feet)
Wainwrights: One outlying Fell - Orrest Head
Map: Ordnance Survey - Explorer OL7 (The English Lakes - South-eastern Area)
Buy this map from Ordnance Survey
Walk features: Birds, Flowers, Geographic feature, Stream or River, Views, Waterfall, Wildlife, Woodland
Facilities / refreshments: Toilets and numerous Pubs and Cafes nearby in Windermere
Nearest town: Windermere
Walk Tags: Lake District, Cumbria, Orrest Head, Windermere, Wainwright, Windermere railway station, A591, A5074, Causeway Farm, St Catherine's Wood, High Hay Wood, Ellery Bank


This is a very short walk, but ideal if you simply want an excellent viewpoint of the southern lakes without putting in much effort. As only one lane is largely followed the directions are brief. Even though the walk is very short the views are worth the stopping off before the remainder of the Lakes are explored.

Footpath sign to Orrest Head

The walk starts on the A591 on the opposite side of the road to the railway station, behind the green railings by the pedestrian crossing. It begins by turning up the lane by a large signpost informing you that you are on the footpath to Orrest Head. It also informs you that the summit is 784 feet above sea level and that it gives unrivalled views of the Lake District Fells, Lake Windermere, Morecambe Bay and the Pennines. It also suggests that it is 20 minutes walk to the top.

Lane up through the trees

Winding lane through the trees

View from the path

Once in the lane, it splits. Here take the left of the three possible routes, the lane here is still tarmac underfoot. The lane then winds its way uphill through trees before reaching a farm. The lane here now becomes rougher underfoot. Just past the farm, as the path levels, the path again splits into three. His time take the right hand path which leads up hill with a wall a few yards over to the right. In this wall there is an interesting metal gate.

Ornate metal field gate

Path as it turns the corner into the fenced lane

The path along to the kissing gate

Continue up here, and then turn right at the top into a fenced lane. Proceed along this level lane past various benches until after a couple of hundred yards a kissing gate is reached on the left.

Kissing gate leading up to the summit

Engraved stone at the side of the gate

The steps up to the summit

On either side of this kissing gate are stones with engravings in memory of Arthur Heywood who donated this area to the use of the public forever. Pass through the kissing gate and climb the steps up to the summit.

View from the summit of Orrest Head

View from the summit of Orrest Head - Windermere covered by low lying mist

There is a view indicator on the summit which points out the various landmarks on the surrounding skyline. There is an excellent all round view, with the coast to the south and looking across Windermere to the West are Swirl How, Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags, Scafell Pike right around to Wansfell Pike, Red Screes, the Kirkstone Pass and Ill Bell to the North.

Windermere with low lying mist

View towards the north - Wansfell, Red Screes, Kirkstone Pass around to Ill Bell

Return now back down to the main road using the same path as that used for the journey up.


Click here for Disclaimer




Back to Walks Selector


Copyright © Walks4all Limited 2019