The view from the summit of Orrest Head fell accessible path.

Miles Without Stiles 50: Orrest Head

Miles Without Stiles

This route summits the fell Orrest Head. The occasionally challenging route winds its way up through Elleray Wood, with 120m of ascent to take you to a high point of 238m where adventurers are rewarded with 360º views over Windermere and the central fells. OS Explorer Map OL7.

Route for many. 3.5km distance.

Route

Scooters / wheelchairs / pushchairs:

Follow the blue signs for the accessible route. There are also red graded footpaths that deviate from the main trail which involve steps.

If you are doing this route on an all-terrain-scooter, we recommend having a full battery, and a scooter able to cope with the steeper sections of the route.

Please visit the Orrest Head project page for details of the renovation of this route.

Starting at the narrow lane next to to the lower entrance to the Windermere Hotel [Photo 1], you get a taste of some of the steeper inclines on the first tarmac section [Photo 2]. Passing Elleray cottage and Shireburn [Photo 3], the road bends to the right. Immediately after Orrest House, a fine cream coloured house, take the accessible gravel surface on the left at post 2 [Photo 4] before rejoining the tarmac at post 3 [Photo 5] and tackle a longer sweeping left-hand bend [Photo 6].

You’ll reach a section where the road pulls sharply to the right, but rather than remain on the road, take the newly restored Victorian Carriageway straight ahead on the corner at post 4, with its accessible gravel surface. As you are enveloped in woodland, the height of the tree trunks is striking as they reach for the light [Photo 7]. You’ll pass, on your left, and perhaps easily missed, a walled garden that would have been used for growing vegetables and fruit in former times.

Shortly you’ll become aware of a red path feeding in from the left at post number 6, and the routes combine, bounded by a stone wall for a reasonably demanding climb, passing areas where the rock has been quarried and tree roots now hang on to rocks, and ferns thrive in the cool darkness.

At a base of a huge sycamore tree [Photo 8] the path touches the boundary of the wood at a sharp right-hand corner. Climbing a short distance further [Photo 9], a view of Windermere opens on the right [Photo 10] and eagle-eyed visitors may catch a glimpse of a very special forest dweller. At the wood yard (at post number 8) turn sharp left, and continue upwards through beech trees. Touching the woodland edge for a second time, on a right hand corner, Wansfell, Stoney Cove Pike and Ill Bell can be seen in the distance [Photo 11].

Leaving the Victorian Carriageway and mature woodland, there is a short section of newly planted oaks and native species [Photo 12], before the route sweeps to the right for a third time, with views over the wall to the northern end of Lake Windermere. You’ll find the first of several newly installed benches, specially commissioned for the accessible route. Climbing up the fell, you will pass a Victorian Kissing Gate at post number 11 and associated inscriptions [Photo 13] that acknowledge the generosity of local landowner Arthur Henry Heywood, who so kindly gave the woods and Orrest Head for everyone to enjoy. Also featured is a heart-warming verse, written by clergyman and poet J.Keble.

Continuing your ascent, to your right are further tantalising views, before passing through a gap in the wall at post number 12 [Photo 14] and entering a different type of mountain woodland with small oak trees and mountain ash, before the last push to the summit. You break free of woodland and an awe-inspiring 360º panorama is revealed. [Photo 15] Taking in the length of Windermere, the central fells, and parts of the Kentmere horseshoe, you are fully immersed in the wondrous landscape. Pause for a while, utilising the newly installed (and cleverly incorporating a compass) benches by local metalwork artist CB Arts [Photo 16], before turning and retracing your route back down to Windermere.

Photos of the route:

  • The start of the path at the junction with the main road.

    1. The start of the path at the junction with the main road.

  • The first tarmac section with a steep incline.

    2. The first tarmac section with a steep incline.

  • Passing Elleray Cottage and Shireburn

    3. Passing Elleray Cottage and Shireburn.

  • The accessible gravel path to the left.

    4. The accessible gravel path to the left.

  • Rejoining the tarmac road.

    5. Rejoining the tarmac road.

  • A long sweeping left hand bend on the tarmac road.

    6. A long sweeping left hand bend on the tarmac road.

  • Tall trees on either side of the path.

    7. Tall trees on either side of the path.

  • The base of a large sycamore tree.

    8. The base of a large sycamore tree.

  • The path climbs further through the woods.

    9. The path climbs further through the woods.

  • A view of Windermere to the right.

    10. A view of Windermere to the right.

  • Views over the fells in the distance.

    11. Views over the fells in the distance.

  • Newly planted oaks and native species

    12. Newly planted oaks and native species.

  • The path passes a Victorian kissing gate.

    13. The path passes a Victorian kissing gate, but does not go through it.

  • The path passes through a gap in the wall at post 12.

    14. The path passes through a gap in the wall at post 12.

  • The summit of Orrest Head fell.

    15. The summit of Orrest Head fell.

  • View from the summit of Orrest Head fell over Lake Windermere.

    16. The new seating which incorporates a compass into the design.

  • Jane Brassington at Orrest Head summit in an all-terrain wheelchair.

    17. Jane Brassington at Orrest Head summit in an all-terrain wheelchair.

Details

Start point:

Where the narrow lane next to the lower entrance of the Windermere Hotel leaves the main road.

Postcode: LA23 1AW
Grid reference: SD 41284 98743
W3W: ///opposing.unfocused.bike

Turning point:

Grid reference: SD 41415 99350
W3W: ///leap.newly.dictation

Facilities:

There are public toilets at Broad Street in Windermere village, along with lots of cafes and shops.

Getting there:

Windermere train station is a 3 minute walk from the start point. There is parking in Windermere village and a car park at Broad Street.