Orrest Head was made most famous because of the impact it had on renowned Lake District chronicler and walker, Alfred Wainwright. In his early 20s Wainwright first visited the Lake District and it was the viewpoint of Orrest Head which captured his interest. This walk is your chance to enjoy the views experienced by Wainwright and many others. This route follows Wainwright’s walk and covers just 2.7 miles, for a short yet satisfying experience. There are stiles to be traversed but most dogs should have no trouble on the route.
This walk to Orrest Head begins just opposite Windermere railway station. From here you can see the prominent sign which declares Orrest Head and points upwards along a private tarmacked lane. Take the lane and keep to the tarmac throughout following the twists and turns until you reach the upper heights. Expect hairpins and other turns all the way up through Elleray Woods and once you reach the smithy, the tarmac will end. The buildings now bear right and you should follow the roughened path which takes you up through the trees. You’ll reach a wall barring the way at the top which is your sign to turn right and follow a leveller, more complete path. Turn left through the gateway featuring Heywood memorial stones set into the wall and climb the steps up to the viewpoint.
At the top, you will see the slate Wainwright diorama which outlines all of the fells you can see. On the way back, you can return along the same path, but Wainwright recommends an extended route. He suggests continuing vaguely northwards past the viewpoint and down a path through the bracken. Bear slightly right and descend to a signpost set alongside a stone stile. The path splits and you should cross the stile and descend gently through some of the most striking pastoral scenery the area has to offer. There is a gentle pathway through the field until you come to a minor road, near the Causeway Farm.
At this road, you should turn left and then bear left 0.75km down the road, which leads you along a minor lane towards the A592. Rather than heading onto the busy A road take a sharp left through the decorative iron gateway into pretty parkland. There is a track to follow here and you continue ahead into the woods, there is a little footbridge to cross and wonderful sights and smells to take in. Next climb up the steps into a narrow lane which sites above some houses and as you follow the lane, you will find the original tarmac lane which, if you bear right, takes you back to Windermere station.
This is a truly classic Lake District route which anybody who loves the work of Wainwright and wants to experience exactly what he experienced should try. It doesn’t consider too many steep moments so should be enjoyable for all.