Orrest Head View

Orrest Head access improvement project 2021

“Those few hours cast a spell that changed my life” – Wainwright.

For many visitors to the Lake District, Orrest Head is an introduction to both hill walking and the Lakeland landscape. The stunning panoramic view is just a short walk from Windermere Station. It kindled Alfred Wainwright's love with the Lake District and set him on the journey to writing his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells; guidebooks which have inspired and influenced generations of walkers.

Unfortunately, not everyone can get to this special 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 also becoming eroded and rocky and the landscape is getting damaged.

Kissing gate and steps close to the Orrest Head SummitTrampling and erosion damage on the Orrest Head summit

This project aims to help more people to enjoy and appreciate the view from Orrest Head by creating improved, sustainable access to the summit. It is a project about people - removing barriers, providing opportunity, increasing understanding and building relationships.

Our plans have been informed by visitor surveys carried out on site in June 2019, an accessibility audit conducted by LDNPA volunteers and in consultation with Lake District Mobility. Read the Orrest Head Baseline Visitor Survey 2019 Analysis Report.

We are working with Windermere Town Council, South Lakeland District Council to continue the restoration of a Victorian carriage drive which takes people close to the summit. From there we will create an alternative, easy-gradient path to the viewpoint which will be suitable for people with pushchairs and mobility scooters. The path will be surfaced with the same fine stone material as the previously restored carriage drive. The existing route through the gate and up the steps will remain in place as some people prefer this challenge.

Orrest Head Carriageway

We will improve the drainage on the summit and replant the eroded areas to help restore the habitat. We will also provide new seating and more information about the special features of this World Heritage Site.

We also plan to provide an all-terrain mobility scooter which will be available in Windermere for people to use. The path will become a Miles without Stiles route.

More Information

Map of the proposed project work at Orrest Head and Elleray Wood

Orrest Head current problems and proposed pathworks

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Covid 19 has had an impact on our project plans so we are now aiming to complete the project by September 2021.

August 2020 - planning permission secured

April 2021 - funding confirmed

TBC July 2021 - completion of new pathworks, summit seating and site information and waymarking

TBC Sept 2021 - project completion


You can donate to this project with the Lake District Foundation - Orrest Head Access Improvement Project

We would like to thank individuals and the following organisations who have donated or pledged financial support to the project:

  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (Rural Development Programme for England)
  • Lake District National Park Authority
  • Windermere Town Council
  • Transpennines Express - Community Grant
  • CLA Charitable Trust
  • Cumbria County Council
  • South Lakeland District Council
  • The Rambers' Association
  • E H Booth & Co Ltd
  • Alpkit
  • Windermere Taverner's Cricket Club