THIS hilly linear ramble from Windermere to Staveley contrasts the popular Orrest Head with the unobtrusive Sour Howes. Enjoy splendid views from both tops and a 'sweet and sour' walking challenge over varied terrain. Use a bus or train for the outward or return journey.

Start from Windermere bus and railway station, map reference SD 414 986, postcode LA23 1QA.


Distance: nine miles with 2,000 feet of ascent

Time: 4-5 hours

Terrain: good paths, tracks, quiet roads and rough fell

Maps: OS Explorer OL7


1 Cross the A591 and join the signed route to Orrest Head, left of the Windermere Hotel. Keep right, up the winding tarmacked lane through Elleray Wood, then on the path up to summit. Enjoy the views from Orrest Head that famously enchanted Alfred Wainwright with the Lake District in June 1930. Continue northwards, descending to a wall stile, then walk along the path signed Causeway. Keep to the right of The Causeway farmhouse and turn right onto a road. After 230 yards turn left onto the path signed Far Orrest. Pass the farm and keep straight on to a wicket gate (avoiding the farm gate) near woodland to a stile, then across the field ahead to a stile on the outside corner of a wall. Walk alongside the wall on the right to the field corner, across a beck then ahead to Far Orrest Farm via a waymarked gate. Keep right along the path signed Troutbeck and Garburn, along a walled lane then across rocky fields to Allen Knott. This is the site of a Dark Age British hill fort which probably served as a lookout post.

2 Turn right up the road for 100 yards then left onto a bridleway. Continue along the track veering right at an adjoining track. Keep right, going uphill towards conifer woodland. Views of Troutbeck Valley and The Tongue appear ahead. Just before a wood, turn right over a ladder stile, then up a steep field to another high ladder stile, across a track and over a third ladder stile onto Applethwaite Common. Follow the upward grassy path to a rocky knoll with views over Dubbs Reservoir and Windermere. Continue up the grassy path and over a fence stile to the hummocky 1,585-feet summit of Sour Howes. Sour means poor, wet land, which accurately describes the next mile of the walk.

3 Descend a short way along a ridge then bear right to a stile in the corner between a wall and conifer woods. Cross a second stile to Capple Howe and follow the wall on the left down to where it joins a fence. Cross the fence in the corner and a wall stile immediately after. Step over Park Beck and continue generally downhill in an easterly direction, to a gate and fence stile at the top of a slope. Kentmere Valley can be seen directly ahead. Bear right over the shoulder of a meadow to meet a track returning to Park Beck via a gate in the corner below. Follow the track keeping left of the beck. The track crosses two fords with stepping stones and passes a former shooting lodge before joining a walled track. Keep straight on the bridleway signed Kentmere Road, joining a tarmacked lane beside a white house. In the woods at Ullthwaite Bridge turn right before reaching the River Kent. Walk past Brow Foot Farm and turn left onto Browfoot Lane to Scroggs Bridge then continue along the Kentmere lane into Staveley.

Next week: canal and rail trail from Crooklands

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map