Sunset or dawn chorus from Wainwright's favourite view

Duration:2 hours or less
Activity:Nature 'wows'

Orrest Head is a popular view point above the town of Windermere. At 238 metres/781 feet it's not too difficult a walk for most people but gives some great views from the top. It was this walk and these views that famously inspired Alfred Wainwright on his first visit to the Lake District in 1930. On 7th June he got off the train with his cousin and climbed to the top, later describing the experience as 'an introduction to a dream' and writing 'It was a moment of magic, a revelation so unexpected that I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes'. To the west are views over the length of Windermere lake to the central fells, to the south out to sea over Morcambe bay with Blackpool tower visible on a clear day. To the east you can see over to Yorkshire and the north gives a great view up the Troutbeck valley.

The path up is paved for most of the way and is an easy gradient walk. It would suitable for those who can't get out onto the higher fells anymore, want a first experience of the hills or have children. The way up is easily located opposite the turn off of the A591 into Windermere, just across from the rail station. There's an elaborate and slightly Victorian looking sign pointing the way (GR NY 412,987). Winderemere town is also well served for cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Further Information

Orrest Head can be busy during the day but if you plan to make the ascent at the end of the day you may be lucky enough to get a great sunset view as the sun sinks below the western fells, or lights up the clouds in the valleys. Alternatively, go up early in the morning for a great dawn chorus in the woods on the walk up. Both these times will also be a lot more peaceful!

By Rob Clarke

Many years looking out of an office window in Bristol inspired me to move to the Lakes and volunteer for the National Trust. This turned into a job with the South Lakes upland path team before taking up my current post at High Wray Basecamp, the full time volunteer centre. I guess that makes my specialisms upland path work and working with volunteers ....

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How to get here

Windermere railway station

LA23 1

Ordnance Survey OL7
The English Lakes
South Eastern area

SD 413 986

Get Directions

Trains from Oxenholme in Kendal run to Windermere around once every hour, Oxenholme is on the main west coast line. The rail station is also the bus stop for the town, with many regular services.