Tag Archives: Orrest Head

Friday Five – Windermere ‘peaks’


I’m cheating a tiny bit with this one. There is indeed a flippantly-named “Windermere Three Peaks Challenge” which takes in three of the low hills at the back of the town (Orrest Head, School Knott and Brant Fell). However, two others are so close to the route that they might just as well be on it, so five it is.

Orrest Head

This was the very first Lakeland fell that Alfred Wainwright climbed, during a day trip to the area on the train. He was so bowled over by the view from the top that he vowed there and then to move to the Lake District and write a series of guidebooks to the fells.  The rest is history. The view is spectacular for such a low hill; it’s one of the few places you can see most of England’s longest lake from. The local council and/or charities are in the process of making the summit fully accessible – no bad thing as there’s a tricky, scrambly rock section just below the top which invariably defeats me. Although pushing a wheelchair up the steep hairpins to reach the top might be quite a feat.

School Knott

You can see the prominence of School Knott from almost everywhere in the town, poking up above the rooftops. It’s not massive at 760′ above sea level but the walk up it is surprisingly steep and goes through some varied and stunning scenery. I actually prefer the ‘back route’ via the old Droomer farm and bridleway, which takes you up to the pretty School Knott Tarn before heading up a grassy slope to the top. The view of the Lakeland Fells, and parts of Windermere lake, is lovely.


This oddly-named fell is separated from School Knott by the tarn, and by a horribly rickety stile which you really don’t want to tackle twice on the same walk.  It’s higher (818′) than its neighbour, and also rockier, and you get a real feeling of having ‘climbed’ something once you get to the top. The view is less of the lake and more of the eastern fells and the low undulating countryside between Windermere and Troutbeck, but no less beautiful for that.

Post Knott

A lovely Sunday afternoon stroll up the steep streets at the back of Bowness, then through woodland dotted with slate benches set into the thickness of the stone wall, takes you to the top of this locally-popular look-out point and picnic site. There’s a lovely view of the lake and the rooftops of the old bit of Bowness, lots of rabbits, and a small tarn where deer sometimes come to drink.

Brant Fell

Down a bit and then up a lot from Post Knott is the abrupt little Brant Fell, which looks almost like a tiny volcano from some directions.  It’s a steep climb and you need plenty of puff to get to the 629′ top, but again the reward is stunning views, plus some odd bits of stonework which are all that remains of an old summerhouse, destroyed by fire (according to the small print in Wainwright’s ‘The Outlying Fells of Lakeland’). Combining this with Post Knott (actually it’s quite hard not to) makes an enjoyable walk on a sunny afternoon.

Here’s a shot of the view over Windermere (town) to Windermere (lake) from School Knott.




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Season of mists

Autumn has landed on us with a thump; yesterday morning we woke to really thick fog – the sort that made our shopping trip to Barrow in Furness distinctly challenging because we could hardly see the road.

Thankfully by lunchtime it had mostly lifted and turned to glorious autumn sunshine, bringing out all the colours in the trees and creating some interesting lighting effects.  We donned boots and walking gear and set off on a 7 mile hike to Holehird Gardens (and back) via the back lanes and footpaths skirting around Orrest Head.  Everything looked utterly magical and we really enjoyed the walk – all except for the very last farmyard at Far Orrest, where we were accosted by at least four bad-tempered dogs who clearly didn’t want us anywhere near their property, even though we stuck like glue to the official public footpath.  After one took a nip at Dave, we didn’t dare go back the same way, and ended up having to walk along the A592 Kirkstone Road which is narrow, busy, and has no pavement for long stretches.  It was an interesting experience but not one I’d like to repeat, so sadly that walk seems to be out of bounds until someone Does Something about those dogs.

Still, the rest of the afternoon was a joy with pale blue skies, misty fells in the background, and the sun filtering through the trees in High Hay wood.  Here’s a couple of the photos I took, just to show how amazing it looked.



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