Work is underway to make the Orrest Head summit easier to reach

Published on: 20 May 2021

Marian at Orrest Head

The Lake District National Park Authority has started work to make the summit of Alfred Wainwright’s first fell, Orrest Head in Windermere, easier for more people to reach.

A £51,000 grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development means that it will soon be possible for people with limited mobility and families with pushchairs to enjoy the stunning panoramic view which inspired Alfred Wainwright and thousands of others to fall in love with the Lake District.

Currently, not everyone can get to this iconic viewpoint. The path just below the summit has steep steps and is rocky near the top. Waterlogging on the summit itself is causing more problems. There is an unofficial, alternative route avoiding the steps, but this is becoming badly eroded and the landscape is getting damaged.

Marian Jones, Lake District National Park Area Ranger says: “Wainwright described Orrest Head as ‘our first ascent in Lakeland’ and ‘a fitting finale, too, to a life made happy by fellwandering’. We are helping to make that statement a reality by working with Windermere and Bowness Town Council to create a Miles without Stiles path, suitable for all ages and abilities, to this special viewpoint.

“We are restoring sections of the Victorian carriage drive and creating a new easy-gradient path to the summit which can be used by people with limited mobility, including people with powered-wheelchairs and families with pushchairs.

“Some additional path improvements and enhanced signposting in Elleray Wood is also part of the project. New signs to give information about the view, local history and natural environment will make it easier for people to explore this lovely woodland.”

Renowned local artist blacksmith, Chris Brammall of CB Arts Ltd is creating new bespoke seating for the summit and along the route.  These will provide more resting places for people to relax and enjoy the views.  We will also be planting more trees and carrying out landscape restoration work to make the area more weather resilient.

Windermere and Bowness Mayor, Adrian Legge said: “We are delighted that the Lake District National Park Authority’s funding bid to the Rural Development Programme for England has been successful.  The restoration of the Victorian carriage drive and its extension to the summit of Orrest Head will mean that the breathtaking viewpoint will be accessible for parents and grandparents with pushchairs, for those in wheelchairs and for everyone who, until completion of this marvellous project, was unable to manage the last steep part of the ascent.”

The total project costs are being met with additional funding from Lake District National Park Authority, Windermere & Bowness Town Council, The Wainwright Society, Transpennine Express - Community Grant, CLA Charitable Trust, Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council, The Ramblers' Association, E H Booth & Co Ltd, Alpkit, Windermere Taverners Cricket Club and other individual donations. The Lake District Foundation have also assisted with raising funds.

Work has started on site this week and will be complete by August 2021.

For more information on the Orrest Head Project go to our webpage: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor/localcommunities/central-and-south-east-district-area/orresthead

Our photo shows Lake District National Park Area Ranger, Marian Jones as work begins to improve access at Orrest Head, Windermere.

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