Walk: Around Orrest Head

Around Orrest Head

Around Orrest Head

First published in Walks in the Lake District Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

This is without doubt the most accessible and popular walk in the whole of the Lake District.

This is why I always do it in the winter when there is room to move. The walk begins and ends at the tourist information centre near Windermere Station, and so is easy to find.

At the starting point turn right to reach a seat from which there are fine views over Windermere.

It was here that my Labrador was greeted by an elderly couple who had never driven a car but went everywhere by public transport.

Their hobby was collecting old photographs of Windermere. Out of an old rucksack they produced an album and allowed me to photograph some of their pictures.

Also from the rucksack emerged a couple of chocolate biscuits which were given to my ever-hungry Labrador.

I left our new friends to reach a kissing gate and a wall into which a plaque has been inserted telling us that Orrest Head was a gift for people to enjoy.

Here through a gate is a seat and a reminder of one of Cumbria’s great eccentrics. Orrest Head was once the home of Josiah Brown.

He was a lavish host but he kept a bull, which behaved like a horse and he rode around the district.

Despite this, in the 19th Century, everybody kept well away from Mr Brown and his bull. Look out for the view finder on the 784-feet (238-metre) summit.

On a clear day — ideal on a cold winter’s morning — there are views over Windermere and down to the sea at Morecambe Bay.

Approach the 17th Century Causeway Farm. This was named because of the Roman road, which once linked Kendal with Ambleside.

The line of the causeway can still be faintly seen even though it is now grassed over.

This is sheep country and the local Herdwicks are by far the most dominant breed. Follow the obvious track and turn left just beyond Crosses farm. Leave the road at this point and follow an obvious path to reach St Catherine’s mixed woodland on the left.

This is the place to enjoy a good long birdwatch and perhaps stop for a picnic. Cross a footbridge over a small stream and descend into High Haywood.

After passing Elleray Bank House on the right pass through Old Elleray Woods.

Here I disturbed a pair of roe deer and shared what was left of my lunch with a flock of chaffinches.

Like all naturalists I am worried about the ash dieback disease and I keep my eyes open for ash trees.

The ash is the only British tree to have blackbirds and these are easily identified in the winter.

All readers of should report any signs of ash trees with damaged bark to the Environment Agency.

Follow the track through this woodland to reach the road and the starting point.

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