Hills: Orrest Head
Outlying Wainwright: 1
Who: Just me
When: Saturday 22 July
Bog factor: None whatsoever
Pre walk drink: various real ales
Post walk drink: Prosecco
Pre walk watering hole: Hawkshead Brewery
Post walk watering hole: The Lamplighter, Windermere
Warning: I have always said that this is not a how to hill walk guide, for various reasons. My somewhat anarchic style of walking, combined with post walk drinks and so forth is certainly not text book and cannot in any way be taken as guidance. This walk more than most as the walk vs alcoholic beverage factor was higher than most. Certainly the percentage of time spent in pub to time spent on hill was possibly the highest ever although there are a couple of hills e.g. Little Mell Fell or Glenridding Dodd that have run it a close second. Despite this the mishap factor was at an all time low.
We had booked ourselves a weekend in Ambleside in order primarily to attend the Hawkshead beer festival. The Hawkshead Brewery is one of Stuart’s favourites although to be honest not one of mine. With that aim in mind we had booked ourselves into budget accommodation in Ambleside as nothing was actually available in Staveley itself (where the brewery is) by the time we booked. There is a regular bus service running between the two villages which we would be able to make use of. We arrived fairly late into Ambleside on the Friday night, had a couple of glasses of wine and went to bed – the loose plan was to do some sort of short walk in the morning then head for the beer festival in the afternoon, a plan which had worked pretty well when attending Keswick beer festival the previous month.
Of course this should have worked in theory. However given no hiccups with the transport there was inevitably going to be a hiccup with the weather instead… we woke up to torrential rain. Went and had breakfast, still torrential. Now if it rains on a hill then I can put up with it but I hate starting out in really wet weather. We dithered about and with no sign of improvement decided to head for the beer festival somewhat earlier than planned.
It turned out this was actually a good thing as they were already starting to run low on some of the more popular real ales. We started sampling some of the ales on offer – after all if unable to tick off a hill may as well tick something else! Of course, the inevitable happened… the weather was starting to clear up and by the time it was mid afternoon it was glorious sunshine. This was not what had been forecast! At around 4 we decided to head back, having sampled most of what we had hoped to but missed out on a few we would have liked to try.
As the bus trundled towards Windermere I had an idea. It was far too late to do a proper walk now and obviously I had also had several halves of ale. However I was not feeling at all ‘under the weather’ so to speak (had I been I would not have set off) and it seemed a shame given the weather not to at least get a view of some sort. We got off the bus in Windermere having decided Stuart would find a pub and I would pop up Orrest Head which had a great path all the way up. I had felt I really should do this walk at some point anyway, even though I have no intention of doing Outlying Wainwrights, as it was the view that changed Wainwright’s life. Who knows, he might have had a pint or two before heading up it as well!
The walk was very simple with the path being constructed most of the way with just a few built steps for the final bit up to the summit. I emerged on the very busy top to wonderful views all round and have to say the view to effort ratio was absolutely excellent. This would be a great place to bring a picnic and watch the sunset and I may well return and do just that at some point. I will let them speak for themselves! Somewhat annoying in a way he didn’t put it on the main list but his prerogative.
I returned to Windermere the same way, and met Stuart for a post walk drink in the sunshine – of which I inexplicably forgot to take a photo so a substitute one will have to do!
All in all a recommended way to spend a bit of time if you have a late weather window. Though beer after the walk rather than before would probably be a better idea!