“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.
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 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.
In April 2020 we submitted a planning application and are currently waiting for the decision. The planning application reference number is 7/2020/5276 and can be viewed at: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/swiftlg/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display
Covid 19 has had an impact on our project plans so we are now aiming to complete the project by December 2021, but this depends having the necessary funding in place.
The current timeline:
February 2020 - submit Expression of Interest for RDPE funding
March 2020 - submit Planning Application
May 2020 - RDPE decision
August 2020 - planning application decision
31 August 2020 - submit full RDPE grant application
September 2020 - RDPE grant decision
We are developing a grant application for funding from the Government's RDPE Growth Programme (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme).
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/