Saturday, 7 February 2015

Orrest Head

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Route: Windermere, Elleray Bank, Orrest Head, Common Wood, Windermere

Date: 07/02/2015
From: Windermere

Parking: Layby near railway station
Start Point: Windermere
Region: Outlying Fells

Route length: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
Time taken: 0:37
Average speed: 2.4 mph
Ascent: 149m
Descent: 146m

Outlying Fells on this walk: Orrest Head (238m)

Additional summits: None

Other points of interest: None
"...quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. ..."
Orrest Head would be an unremarkable hill with a fine view were it not for Alfred Wainwright. His visit in 1930 led to the publication of the most famous documentation of the Lakeland Fells and a lifelong dedication to walking that people, like I, follow today.

This was a short afternoon walk I did during the winter, a deliberate attempt to watch the sunset over the fells and to see the view that changed a young mans life forever. Not a pilgrimage as such, more of a curiosity to see what could have changed someone's life so dramatically.
I left the car in a layby off the main road and made straight for the signposted road that leads pretty much to the top. It doesn't take long and isn't difficult but it holds great rewards. After passing through a gate (guarded by a pair of large, inscribed stones dedicated to a former landowner) the summit is reached and the views are revealed.
The unmistakable sign at the foot of Orrest Head
The path through the trees of Elleray Bank
Dedication to Arthur Heywood
The panorama is sublime and includes nearly all the major fells in the Lake District. From left to right it is possible to see Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Swirl How, Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell Scafell Pike, The Langdale Pikes, High Raise, Fairfield and Red Screes to name a few. Some view for such a small hill. I know this thanks to the large marble plinth that has been erected by the Wainwright Society detailing the view that's laid out in front of you.

The memorial on Orrest Head
Bench on the summit of Orrest Head with Banner Rigg behind
Windermere with Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Scafell Pike, the Langdale Pikes and High Raise forming the skyline
Red Screes, Caudale Moor and Thornthwaite Crag
The view north from Orrest Head
I remained on the summit snapping away for an hour or so and left after the sun had sunk behind The Old Man of Coniston. In hindsight I should have stayed longer (you'll see in a minute why) but I had a campsite to reach and a tent to pitch.
Pike O'Stickle, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark
Crinkle Crags, Scafell Pike and Bowfell
Panorama of Windermere
Panorama of the high fells from Orrest Head
Scafell Pike, Bowfell and Great End
The Old Man of Coniston and Wetherlam
Orrest Head summit
Looking south
Monochrome view looking northwest
I returned to the car though Common Wood, a National Trust owned woodland above Windermere. Once again, it took little time to reach the car once again, such is the diminutive size of Orrest Head. It's well worth a visit though and really gives the opportunity to people of all abilities to marvel at the beauty of the Lake District.
Common Wood
The last throws on sunshine over Claife Heights
Sunset from Ambleside YHA
Sunset over Wetherlam and Windermere
The sunset sets everything ablaze
Sunset over Windermere