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How To Do Orrest Head Walk from Lake Windermere Easily!

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Doing the Orrest Head Walk from Windermere is one of the best Lake Windermere walks because it doesn’t take too long to walk to and it’s suitable for everyone as it’s not too strenuous. You can walk to Orrest Head from Lake Windermere, Windermere town, or drive and park at the bottom of Orrest head viewpoint and the view from the top is incredible!

A. Wainwright said when he got to the top of Orrest Head in 1930 ‘These few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life’ and I can see what he means!

I started this walk from Bowness-on-Windermere which is a popular and busy town on the shore of Lake Windermere. The reason I actually decided to do the Orrest Head walk was because Lake Windermere was so busy, as was Bowness-on-Windermere and I felt like I needed to get up high and escape the crowds!

Many people are looking for walks near Windermere and Windermere walks, probably for the same reason as me. I definitely suggest doing the Orrest Head Walk so here’s how to do one of the best walks in Windermere!

Orrest Head Walk

Orrest Head Walk,
Keep Reading for details on how to do the Orrest Head Walk!

Lake Windermere to Orrest Head Walk

If you want a really good walk for this Lake Windermere walk and you don’t want to have to worry about Orrest Head parking, as it can be quite hard to find parking (more on that below), I suggest walking from Bowness-on-Windermere town on the edge of Lake Windermere up through Windermere town to the base of Orrest Head.

 This walk from Lake Windermere to Orrest Head base is not too strenuous, it is only slightly uphill alongside the road but it was a lot further than I thought when I first looked at my map and it took me a good 20-30 minutes to do.

After that, I still needed to walk up to Orrest Head which from Windermere town takes about 20 minutes.

If you plan to walk from Bowness-on-Windermere to Orrest Head and back again as I did, you should plan for it to be at least 2 hours and even 3 hours if you walk slower and stop at the top. This makes it perfect to do as part of a Lake District day trip!

Orrest Head Walk, Windermere Town
The road from Lake Windermere to Orrest Head base.

Orrest Head Parking

There isn’t an Orrest Head car park which makes parking a bit difficult, especially on hot summers day when the area is very busy.

However, I did read on a local post that for Orrest Head parking you can park in the Windermere Car Park at Booths Windermere Supermarket, next to Windermere train station for 3 hours. 3 hours is plenty of time to do the Orrest Head walk from here.

Orrest Head Walk

The walk up to Orrest Head starts from Church Street. Find Tuchwud Street leading off Church Street and follow it all the way up.

You’ll see a big signpost at the road and from here the footpath is signposted all the way to the top of Orrest Head.

If you’re having difficultly finding the base of the walk, look for The Orrest Head Bar and start from here.

Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Sign
The Orrest Head walk sign to look for!
Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Path
And then follow these signs all the way to Orrest Head.

The Orrest Head sign at the bottom states that the walk takes 20 minutes and I agree with that.

The walk is definitely uphill and that’s why the view is so good of course, but it is quite a gradual incline rather than being really steep so it is suitable for all walkers even if you aren’t that fit.

On this note, although the walk is not an intense hike, I was pleased I had my trusty walking shoes on, especially as I saw many other people walking with flip flops and dolly shoes on who were having some difficultly walking along the forest path. I would recommend wearing trainers or walking shoes if you have them to do the Orrest Head walk.

Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Path
The footpath to Orrest Head takes you through the forest…
Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Path
Alongside beautiful fields..

The footpath to Orrest Head is mostly through Elleray Forest crossing a couple of fields too.

The walk is pretty shady which was nice for me as it was a hot day when I went, however, this meant that there weren’t many views along the way so when I got to the top I was pretty shocked and stunned by the 360 views I was greeted with!

Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head View over Lake Windermere
There are glimpses of the view like this on the walk to Orrest Head..
Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Path
This is the final part of the walk to the top of Orrest Head!

Orrest Head Viewpoint

A. Wainwright said when he got to the top of Orrest Head in 1930 ‘These few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life’ and I can see what he means!

The Orrest Head viewpoint is seriously incredible! It’s so open with one side looking over Lake Windermere beneath and the other sides looking over the surrounding fields and countryside of the Lake District, no wonder this is one of the best walks near Windermere!

Orrest Head Walk,
The incredible view from the top overlooking Lake Windermere.
Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Viewpoint
The view the other side over the fields.

There are quite a few benches at the top of Orrest Head to take in the views from and I definitely suggest planning in some time to sit here and take in the views on your Orrest Head walk. In fact, bring a snack or a small picnic with you to have at the top.

Also be sure to have a look at the Orrest Head sign which shows you exactly what you can see from the viewpoint.

Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Viewpoint Sign
Orrest Head Viewpoint Sign.

Orrest Head Circular Walk

If you want to do a circular walk instead of walking the same way you walked up, you can walk back to Windermere town through Common Wood.

Leave Orrest Head on the opposite side that you came up and you’ll see a footpath taking you down through Common Wood ending at Orrest Head Cottage and House before the main road in Windermere.

Overall, walking to Orrest Head is one of the best things to do in Windermere no matter what time of year it is, but especially if it is a busy day like it was when I visited as not everyone will want to do the walk and climb.. even though it’s really not that bad!

It took me about 45 minutes in total each way when walking from Bowness-on-Windermere town, although I do walk quite fast so I’d give yourself a good 2 hours at least!

Orrest Head Walk, Orrest Head Viewpoint
Thats the end of this Orrest Head Walk!

I hope this helped you know how to do the Orrest Head Walk!


Sunday 10th of September 2023

Thank you for taking the time and trouble leaving a guide to Orrest Head. Just finished the A.Wainwright biography and wanted to see it for myself

Jesus Carlos Toscano

Wednesday 24th of May 2023

Me and my family did this trip and it was fantastic!

From Windermere train station:

1.- Hop off the train and walk towards The Windermere Hotel 2.- Once you have the hotel to your right, go slightly down on the the same road for about 30metres or so. You will be at the place shown in the first picture under the section called “Orrest Head Walk” from the article above (3rd picture in this website). 4.- Enjoy the walk! Follow the blue path that is marked on the pillars for an easier walk. Or the red for a slightly more challenging path. It took us ~2 hrs to go up, rest a bit and down, going slowly using the blue path. We were a group including some 65+ yo people.

After this, we had plenty of time to walk elsewhere (Queen Adelaide’s Hill, then towards the water and finished at the Bowness-on-Windermere main town area) a whole trip of about 5 hrs.

D Kemp

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Having done this walk many years ago I won't highly recommend the walk. The views were fantastic and we were lucky enough to be able to see right across to Morecambe Bay . The air quality was so good that to be able to see that far was incredible . When ever I get the chance I will be doing the walk again , I never tire of the spectacular views.

Emmalene | A Brummie Home and Abroad

Wednesday 24th of February 2021

We usually base ourselves In Windermere so this a favourite of ours - lovely for sunset too ?


Thursday 25th of February 2021

That's so good to hear and a good idea! Yes, I saw the sunset from a boat cruise on Lake Windermere and it was beautiful! Can't wait to go back! :)