BB1131 : The Windermere Three Peaks

Thursday 20th October 2011

Most serious walkers and many non-walkers will have heard of the Three Peaks challenge.  Some might ask whether I refer to the Yorkshire Three Peaks (Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough) or the national version of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon (with a lot of hairy driving inbetween).  Either way round, the objective is to complete the course inside a given time limit; respectively, 12 and 24 hours.

Fewer will have given much thought to the Windermere Three Peaks.  Indeed, some might be shaking their heads in disbelief, thinking that Windermere is a lake.  Well, so it is (there is a clue in the name!) but it is also a small town along with its Siamese twin, Bowness.  And surrounding the conurbation are three distinct peaks.

Some time ago, BOOTboy Mike, who is the proprietor of the Linthwaite House Hotel, and I had been discussing an expedition that would be a good but not too serious a challenge for his guests.  One that in no way could be considered as a rival to the aforementioned big beasts but providing the opportunity to explore the area through an interesting walk with splendid Lakeland views plus the huge advantage of not having any time restrictions save that of returning back to base in time for pre-dinner drinks and a decent meal.

The Linthwaite House Hotel

Naturally, our start point was the Linthwaite, overlooking the lake just off the B5284. The team for the trial run was Mike, fellow hotelier James (Castle Green Hotel, Kendal), Tony, Stan and me plus Mike's business partner Simon's dog, Millie.

If you happen to be a Linthwaite guest reading this report, please be aware that although it seeks to provide a reasonably accurate, if somewhat idiosyncratic, impression of the features of the walk, it is not intended as a route guide and, if you are unfamiliar with the territory, it is highly recommended that the OS 1:25k map is used to make sure you don't get lost. Having said that, the terrain, albeit interesting and occasionally moderately steep, is not that challenging for the reasonably fit person and you ought not find yourself too far astray!  But do keep an eye on the weather forecast.  Anorak, over-trousers and hiking boots may be advisable as the weather does occasionally seek to refill the lakes. Don't let that stop you going out.  It always seems worse looking out at the rain from indoors than when you are outside walking.

Unfortunately the forecast was for the lakes to be topped up this morning.  However, there was no sign of rain when we gathered at Linthwaite, although the remains of the first overnight frost of the season lingered on the lawns and, in the distance, mist could be seen filling the Langdale Valley.

Frost on the lawn

Mist in the valley

Brant Fell

Mike's guests will, no doubt, start fuelled with a Linthwaite breakfast.  We, on the other hand, did not have time for such luxury although Mike provided us with the next best thing to get us going- a Wabberthwaite sausage!

Wabberthwaite sausages 


In order to avoid an unpleasant road slog along the pathless and sometimes busy B5284, we set off from the hotel, seemingly in the wrong direction, south-east along the footpath that leads over to Lindeth.  

Do not enter the drive

On reaching the house, we were told in no uncertain terms not to go down the drive but to carry on to the other side where an unmarked footpath took us down to turn left onto a minor road and then left again onto Lindeth Lane.  

This brought us back to the B5284 but only to cross it and continue up the lane on the other side.  After about 250 yards there is a track off to the left which we took. Once the wall on the left finished there was open fell to be climbed.

Brant Fell is one of those kind little hills that when you first see it, you think it is quite big, but, on climbing, it allows you to access its summit easily and then rewards you with a great view.

Brant Fell

Belle Isle Round House

From the top you can see virtually the whole of Windermere (the lake, not the town), including a very clear view of the Georgian Round House on Belle Isle, now rebuilt after having been destroyed by fire.

The north end of Windermere from  Brant Fell

The ferry from Brant Fell


School Knott

Our next minor objective was the viewpoint shown, unnamed, on the map as being a short way to the northwest.  Finding it was not a problem but we goofed a bit on the descent.  

The north end of Windermere from the viewpoint

The track down seemed to run off in the wrong direction (northwest) so we took a more direct northeasterly route.  Mistake.  Our route was steepish and obstacled by trees and brought us down to the track which had curled round the hill into the right direction!

Tarn before Matson Ground

Soon afterward we met the path that is clearly marked as the Dales Way.  We turned right onto this and followed it in an easterly direction for quite some distance.

After Matson Ground it turned southeast to emerge eventually on the B5284 but there is a footpath on the north side of the road that protects you from the traffic.  

After 150 yards or so, we turned north, still with the Dales Way, passing, after a while, another small tarn.

Another small tarn

Where the official route bears left we cheated and turned right between a wall and a stream on a footpath that in essence cut off a corner, then climbed a short while before rejoining the official Dales Way.  

However, where the DW goes through a wall to the right, we continued along the left hand side of the wall shortly to reach School Knott Tarn.

Here we turned left, climbed up, passed through a wall and shortly afterwards reached the summit of School Knott- another fine viewpoint.

School Knott Tarn

Looking up the lake from School Knott

The eastern fells from School Knott

Those wishing for a slightly more challenging adventure might want to add to the distance and height climbed by continuing a bit further along the Dales Way and bagging Grandsire before returning to tackle School Knott, but today we omitted that option.

Orrest Head

Our descent from School Knott was to the northwest along a path more linear than that shown on the map.  It brought us back to the track that we (and the Dales Way) had left previously, albeit somewhat further north.

After passing round the back of some houses we emerged into a small estate where we crossed the road and followed a stream to a Gill Droomer Stile, a house that makes full use of the water as a garden feature.  Sadly the plants are not at their best at this time of year so here is one I prepared earlier.

Gill Droomer Stile garden

Here we crossed the railway, heading in a northerly direction towards the A591 which we crossed to take the yellow road that continues north.  Before reaching the stream, there is a well marked path to the left with stern warnings to beware of the Bull and everything else that moves.  No problems today although there was an interesting water pump which James tested.

You have been warned

James tests the water- beware of the bull!

The path up through the woods is very obvious, the only decision point being after a gate where instead of continuing along the track, we turned left, through the wall and quickly came to the summit.  Sadly, the rain decided to join us at the summit but it was little more than spitting.  However, the views up and down the lake were not as clear as they would have been earlier.

The view from Orrest Head that changed Wainwright's life

Orrest Head is the viewpoint that inspired the young Alfred Wainwright, later to become the reknowned writer of The Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.  He wrote:

I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes. I had never seen anything like this. I saw mountain ranges, one after another, the nearer starkly etched, those beyond fading into the blue distance. Rich woodlands, emerald pastures and the shimmering water of the lake below added to a pageant of loveliness, a glorious panorama that held me enthralled. I had seen landscapes of rural beauty pictured in the local art gallery, but here was no painted canvas; this was real. This was truth. God was in his heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.

On a clear day, this is also an excellent viewpoint from which to see the Red Arrows perform at the Windermere Air Show (and doubly exciting if one of them takes you by surprise from behind; deafening and seemingly just a few feet above your head). 


 Red Arrows from Orrest Head

Even on a non Red Arrows day with less than perfect weather, Orrest Head is still a fine place to see virtually all of Windermere

This time I refer to the town as well as the lake.

Such differentiation would be unnecessary if the town had retained its original name of Birthwaite but it was changed to the name of the lake as a result of the arrival of the railway in 1847 in order to clarify the destination.

Comitibus:  Orrest Head

Back to the Linthwaite

The descent from Orrest Head was by the route that most people use for the ascent. An inscription by the fell gate records the fact that it is thanks to the generosity of the widow and daughter of Arthur Henry Heywood in 1902 that this splendid viewpoint has long been open to the public

We followed the main path down, past the metal workers workshop, to emerge close by the Windermere Hotel.

Our way back from here involved paths through the hinter parts of the town, avoiding the shops, but those who prefer to examine at the Windermere emporiums (to my mind a more strenuous option but that's up to you to decide) should head past the railway station entrance then follow the one way system downwards.  

If you are still with us ......

We turned right along the A591 for a short while and then followed the footpath that runs southwest from the far side of St Mary's Church.  

We didn't go in but rumour has it that they have recently abandoned the traditional pews in favour of armchairs and settees.

Plus a carpeted floor.  

The weak need no longer go to the wall!

St Mary's Church

For those who want a longer walk involving lake frontage, take the westerly footpath after St Mary's Church, down to and across the A592, then drop down to the Millerground landing stage.  Follow the lake south below Queen Adelaide's Hill.  For information on how this got its name and other historical features of the area see 10 Facts about Bowness-on-Windermere.  It's well worth a read.

The path along the lake is pleasant but it is a shame that it does not take you into Bowness.  Continue as far as you can then retreat to the A592 near Rayrigg Hall, once the home of slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce.  An appropriate venue as, it is somewhat shameful to have to admit, much of the wealth of the Windermere area, particularly Storrs Hall, derived from the slave trade.  Again, see the 10 Facts for more information.

Once at the A592, walk southwards for about 600 yards then take the footpath up to the left where you climb to rejoin our route.  Don't forget to head west for a short distance to look at the stream viewpoint.

Our path took us round the back of some fine house then swings left following which options to go off to the right then left were ignored.  More fine house could be seen on Old College Lane.  We eventually emerged onto the A5074- the main Windermere to Bowness road below the shops!  

Greetings to shoppers who re-join us here!  Heavily weighed down, I hope, from supporting the local economy!  If not, don't worry, you will have another opportunity lower down.

We continued down this main road, further than I would ideally have liked, past many guest houses.  Three points of interest were to be found on the other side of the road

  • A sign advising the it is 1,206 km to Diessen am Ammersee (presumably a twin town).
  • The Millennium Stone (The Windermere Chronicles are placed nearby, to be opened in 2100 A.D.)
  • The Clock, at the road junction, erected to preserve the memory of Mountford John Byrde Baddeley,"The Thorough Guide".  He was a forerunner of Alfred Wainwright but included motoring, accommodation advice and low level walks as well as guides to walks on the fells.

This way to Diessen

The Millennium Stone

Down the hill we continued, past the RC church on the left and a more traditional one on the right (thought to have been converted into flats).  

Goody Dale Cottage Homes

Shortly afterwards on the right is a footpath that took us down past the Goody Dale Cottage Homes and into a dell through which runs Mill Beck.

It is a very pleasant area, presented to the public by G H Pattinson, former "High Sheriff of his native county"

Hence the path being known as The Sheriff's Walk.

At the lower end, where the stream splits and rejoins is a bench and a lovely view of the rejoining.

The Mill Beck rejoining

This is also where those who took the lakeside option rejoin our route. 

The path meets a lane going south which we took to go past the bowling green and onto the main road in Bowness.  

Windermere bowling club

St Martin's Church

This time there was no escaping the shops but the only one we entered was the ice cream parlour just beyond St Martin's Church  on the other side of the road.  Its range would not have shamed an Italian gelateria.

James the Mod spent some time lusting after a Vespa Scooter whilst Tony the Rocker looked on disapprovingly.

James the Mod and Tony the Rocker

Being naughty, we continued down to the lake front then climbed up through the grounds of the Belsfield Hotel.

Tony stopped to investigate a strange monument in the grounds.  

The conclusion was that it had once been a sundial but not no more.

On reaching the hotel (say it very quietly) we passed through a door, crossed a corridor and exited immediately opposite to leave via the car park.  

The gelateria

Tony and the sun dial

A more legitimate way back would be to take the left hand option at the junction opposite the church rising up to pass by the Belsfield Hotel on the right but we would have missed out on the ice cream had we done so.

Our route back then climbed up the A 5074. Eventually we reached Windy Hall Road which ascends to emerge on the B5284, directly opposite the drive back up to the Linthwaite.

Once back at the hotel, we enjoyed tea and biscuits on the terrace (Millie excepted of course) before leaving Mike to look after his guests (lucky people) and Millie whilst the rest of us returned home to Kendal

Linthwaite staff photos?

How we envy those readers who have the time to relax and enjoy the Linthwaite delights! We hope you enjoy this walk!

Don, 20th October 2011


PS If any Linthwaite guests do undertake this walk, or variants of it, please let us know of your experiences.  You can click on to contact us.  Unless you say otherwise, your comments (if suitable for publication, of course!) may be appended to this report.


PPS If you are thinking of other walks that can easily be undertaken from Linthwaite, here are some earlier BOOTboys reports that might give you inspiration:


A Linthwaite Round

BB1118 :

West Side Story

BB1119 :

East Side Story






Thursday 20th October

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:


Wainwrights (Outlying Fells):

Brant Fell, School Knott, Orrest Head

Other Features:

Linthwaite House Hotel


Don, James, Mike, Stan, Tony



BOOTboys routes ares now being put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1131.

To see which Wainwright top (excluding Outlying Fells) was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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2011 Outings

BB1101 :
Wasnfell Revisited
Tuseday 11th January

BB1102 :
Recuperation Scar!
Thursday 17th February

BB1103 :
A Promenade of Pensioners
Thursday 24th February

BB1104 :
The B Team
Thursday 3rd March

BB1105 :
  A Little Bit Of Wind
Thursday 10th March

BB1106 :
A Linthwaite Round
Thursday 17th March

BB1107 :
Home From The Pulpit
Thursday 24th March

BB1108 :
Taking The Brunt
Thursday 31st March

BB1109 :
Up The Spout
Wednesday 6th April

BB1110 :
Not The Royal Wedding
Friday 29th April

BB1111 :
Kentmere Parts 1 & 2
Thurs 5th, Saturday 7th May

BB1112 :
Five Unknown Tarns
Wednesday 11th May

BB1113 :
Gurnal Dubbs Revisited
Thursday 19th May

BB1114 :
A March Through The Mist
Wednesday 1st June

BB1115 :
Brief Encounter
Wednesday 8th June

BB1116 :
Extraordinary and
Lesser Mortals
Wednesday 15th June

BB1117 :
Farewell David Daw
Wednesday 29th June

BB1118 :
West Side Story
Thursday 7th July

BB1119 :
st Side Story
Wednesday 13th July

 BB1120 :
All The Way From Barrow
Wednesday 20th July

 BB1121 :
Suitable For The Guests!
Thursday 28th July

BB1122 :
Graylings In Flagrante
Wednesday 3rd August

BB1123 :
The First Indecision Outing
Wednesday 24th August

BB1124 :
The Second Indecision Outing
Thursday 25th August

BB1125 :
The Tale of Tony's Triumph
Wednesday 31st August

BB1126 :
The Gunpowder Trail
Wednesday 7th September

BB1127 :
Four Lords a-Leaping
Thursday 15th September

BB1128 :
Heversham Head and Mhor
Thursday 22nd September

BB1129 :
Training For The Himalayas
Wednesday 28th September

BB1130 :
Turn Again, Whittington
Thursday 13th October

BB1131 :
The Windermere Three Peaks
Thursday 20th October

BB1132 :
Perfect Pies
Wednesday 26th October



The Way Of The Roses
12th - 14th September


 Click on the photos
for an enlargement
or related large picture.


To see which Wainwright
top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights
have been done by which BOOT
boy in the"modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on BB Log.