“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.
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.
We are working with Windermere Town Council, South Lakeland District Council and their tenant 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.
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.
We are aiming to complete the project by December 2020, but this depends on having the necessary funding in place.
In April 2020, we'll find out whether we're through to the next funding application stage for a large grant towards the project. This will cover most, but not all of the costs so we are working with Lake District Foundation to raise the remaining funding needed. To donate to the project, please go to www.lakedistrictfoundation.org/orrest-head-access-improvement-project/