In my job I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel – it’s a hard life! Recently, I was sent away to the Lake District for a week away ‘being a tourist’ finding out what there is to do, speaking to locals and reaching out to local companies to find out just what is on offer for someone visiting the area.
I always say first impressions count, so when I pulled off the M6 and onto a long straight road with views of peaks and beautiful blue sky, I knew it was going to be a good week. I was lucky enough that my journey from Devon had only taken me just over 5 hours from North Devon to Windermere – not bad when AA route planner was telling me it’d be closer to 7 hours without any breaks.
As I was 2 hours earlier than planned and I couldn’t check into my accommodation in Ambleside until 4pm I thought I’d make the most of Windermere while the weather was so nice and take a walk up Orrest Head Fell. I’m not a big walker, I’m terrified of heights and I get panic attacks whenever my vertigo kicks in, so the thought of fell walking filled me with dread! I donned my walking boots, set up the Go Pro and headed off on a walk up the hill. I’d be assured that this was the easiest fell to walk and would give me some beautiful views over the Lake.
The walk leaves from just outside of the Windermere town centre, it’s pretty hidden, and it looks like you’re walking into a residential area! Follow the signs and keep walking up the hill, you’ll keep to a fully tarmacked track for quite a way up the hill – which was reassuring for my sanity! Eventually you come to an open woodland where the path continues to the left, but it’s clear the top of the hill is to your right. This is where I got lost. No signpost meant I followed the footsteps in the mud, just hoping I was going the right way – I wasn’t. If I’d continued along the path I would have been brought back out on the path that then followed around to the right. Instead I took a muddy shortcut through the woodland – admittedly it was only 200 yards at most and it wasn’t bad at all.
When I re-joined the path I was supposed to follow you make your way up the hill following a wall – the path here is a little rocky and was very muddy as I walked, but it was manageable and as I later discovered many elderly and young children manage the path with ease.
Keep following the path up, eventually you come to a turnstile in the wall, enter here if you’re shore-footed. If not, keep walking as there is a nice sloped walk up the hill rather than eduring what can only be described as a mini rock climb on the top of a sheer cliff top (disclaimer – this is a serious exaggeration coming from the side of my brain that suffers from vertigo). When I’d actually managed this mini rock climb (in front of the aforementioned old ladies and toddlers) in a completely ungracious manner, I was very pleasantly surprised by the views over Windermere. See. Wow!
Now I’m not ashamed to say that I did stand there for a while “admiring the view” while actually I was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get off this dam rock. Eventually, the family with the young child left – they went the sloped grassy way…and a suitable amount of time later (when I knew they’d not realise I was following them) I followed! That way made my vertigo much happier.
I continued to snap photos for work on my way down, enjoyed the peaceful walk down the hill back to the town. The whole walk took maybe 1 hour, but that includes the 20 minutes I waited for everyone who’d seen me climb up the rock to leave so I couldn’t figure out my escape, so for ‘normal’ walkers it would probably only take 20 minutes each way.
As you can see from the photos, the views were stunning and I can’t recommend it enough. Beginners will love the ease of the walk and experts will appreciate the history surrounding Wainwright as this is supposedly where he surveyed the Lakes and fell in love with it.