5 Unmissable Easy Windermere Walks

Grab the kids, grab the dog, grab your gran!

With wheelchair-accessible options, great views, a sense of adventure (without needing a mountaineering course), and some top-notch spots to re-fuel along the way, here are our picks for the best steps per smile walks from Windermere and Bowness.

Looking for a Windermere or Bowness home base from which to explore?

You don’t always have to climb mountains to get the best views in the Lake District

Without too much exertion, or backpacks full of specialist equipment weighing you down, these relatively easy and enjoyable jaunts around and about Windermere and Bowness are just the ticket if you’re staying local or don’t want to drive too far.

So lace up your walking boots, fill your flask with hot coffee and get out there and enjoy the scenery.

1. Orrest Head

If you like fabulous views that don’t involve much effort on your part, then Orrest Head is made for you.

It’s also the first fell that walking legend Alfred Wainwright climbed, so you’ll be following in his illustrious footsteps.

  1. Starting next to the Windermere Hotel (just a short walk from the train station), It only takes around twenty minutes to get to the top, snaking its way gently up through Elleray Wood – watch out for the Gruffalo en route, kids.
  2. There are a couple of steepish bits on the final pull (although there is a scooter and wheelchair-accessible route up too), but when you get to the summit, the 360-degree views of the lake and surrounding fells will take your breath away.
  3. You can see right down the length of Windermere, and there’s also a panorama telling you what else is visible, including the Old Man of Coniston and Scafell Pike.

Orrest Head Circular Walking Route >

2. School Knott Fell

Another walk that offers wondrous views over Windermere and the fells beyond is the not-too-strenuous hike up to School Knott Fell.

Mostly on gravel tracks and paths, with one or two steep bits and kissing gates and stiles to negotiate, you can start in the centre of Bowness by the cinema.

  1. Walk down the hill past the shops to Helm Road before heading up to Biskey Howe Viewpoint where you can see the lake in all its glory.
  2. From there, continue on Helm Road to the edge of town and then head up the slope and across the field to the bottom of the fell.
  3. Walk along the tarmacked road towards the Helm and join the ancient bridleway before turning left onto the rough track that guides you up to School Knott Tarn.
  4. From there, it’s just a short walk to the top of the fell, where there are eye-popping views over Windermere, the lake and the horizon-filling Lakeland Fells.

School Knot Circular Walk >

3. Brant Fell

It may only be 192m, but Brant Fell does reward your moderate exertion with fantastic views over Windermere and the fells that surround it.

  1. The walk starts just off the main high street in Bowness on Brantfell Road. Steep though the road may be, you won’t need to kit yourself out in climbing gear to get up it.
  2. As it opens out onto open grassland, you’ll see a small stone that marks the beginning (or end) of the 81-mile Dales Way to Ilkley – one for another time.
  3. Continue on the trail up through the woodland to the viewpoint at Post Knott, where you can have a rest on the bench if you need to.
  4. Carry on, heading north, and take the winding path to the summit. Job done.
  5. Now just admire those gorgeous views (can you see Grizedale Forest?) before heading back down into Bowness.

Brant Fell Circular Walk >

4. Claife Viewing Station to Wray Castle

This pleasant 8km (4km each way) stroll along the peaceful wooded western shoreline of Windermere also takes in Claife Viewing Station, which was originally built in the 1790s to encourage tourists to visit the area and admire the views across the lake.

  1. You can get the car ferry across from Bowness (check it’s running before you set off) and park at Ash Landing, close by.
  2. Once you’ve visited the Viewing Station, head back down to the road and follow the signs to Wray Castle.
  3. The road soon turns into a gravel track and takes you along the shoreline through woodland to Red Nab car park.
  4. Carry on until you come to a small bay and take the gate that leads up the hill towards Wray Church.
  5. From there it’s just a short saunter to the mock-Gothic Wray Castle.
  6. Once you’ve had a look around the castle, go back the way you came, not forgetting to drop into Joey’s Café at the bottom of the Viewing Station for something delicious to eat and drink.

Claife Viewing Station to Wray Castle >

5. Gummers How

Is it cheating if you can drive most of this short walk? We think not. There are some steep bits to negotiate as you get nearer the top of the fell, but when you get to the top, the 360-degree views are something else.

Looking over the lake you can see the Langdales, the Howgills, the Coniston fells, Black Combe and Morecambe Bay just for starters.

  1. Park up at the Forestry Commission car park on the Newby Bridge to Bowland Bridge Road and that’s most of the climb done!
  2. From the car park, head uphill for about 50 metres then cross the road and go through the kissing gate.
  3. And up you go to the top – watch out for the hardy Luing cattle lounging around at the bottom, although you might encounter the odd one higher up too.
  4. The gravel path up soon turns into some man-made steps and then a final rocky scramble to the summit.
  5. You can be at the top in around 20 minutes and enjoying some of the best views in the Lake District.

Gummer’s How Circular Walk >

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Windermere’s allure lies in its picturesque setting along England’s largest lake, offering leisurely cruises, lakeside vistas, and a vibrant town ambience.

Meanwhile, Bowness exudes sophistication with its heritage charm, quaint streets, and a delightful array of shops, eateries, and cinemas.

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