Orrest Head

In 1930 a 23-year old man from Blackburn arrived at Windermere Train Station for a week-long walking holiday. Alighting from the train, he took the short walk to Orrest Head, a hill just north of the town centre. He was mesmerised by the view from the peak.

The man’s name was Alfred Wainwright. Two decades later he would begin work on A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, widely regarded as the definitive guide to the hills and mountains of the Lake District.

The summit stands 784 feet above sea level. The view is fantastic. Wainwright describes his first experience in his 1987 book, Ex-Fellwanderer:

Quite suddenly we emerged from the shadow of the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view.

View of Windermere from Orrest Head
View of Windermere from Orrest Head

Much of Windermere can be seen. Morecambe Bay, the Pennines and many of the Lake District fells are also visible. A slate toposcope, installed by the Wainwright Society and Windermere Town Council, shows the names of the visible features. The design is based on a drawing from Wainwright’s book, The Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Alfred Wainwright toposcope at Orrest Head, Windermere

The walk to Orrest Head is one of the most popular in the Lake District. The path to the summit starts just off the A591, opposite Windermere Train Station. It is well signposted. Walking to the top takes around 20 minutes. The walk is pretty easy but is rocky in places and not suitable for pushchairs.

Bench and signpost at starting point of walk to Orrest Head
Bench and signpost at starting point

There is some free parking nearby on the A591; in the layby just east of the Windermere Hotel (postcode LA23 1AL).


Map showing location of Orrest Head.

Map showing location of Orrest Head


Orrest Head

United Kingdom

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