Sour Howes

St David’s Day promised to be a fine day, so, taking advantage of my change of circumstances, I decided to travel back up to the Lakes for another wander. Rather than battle through the traffic on the M6 on a week day, I decided I’d take advantage of the morning direct train to Windermere. I’d planned a walk through back lanes to the north and north east of Windermere town I’d never explored before. No really high fells and quite different terrain than deeper into the valleys, but it turned out to be a most enjoyable walk through pleasant countryside with a steep climb up a smaller fell.

Leaving the station and crossing the road, I turned up the lane that would take me up to the modest hill of Orrest Head. Doing this I was following the footsteps of one Alfred Wainwright, originally from Blackburn, not far from where I grew up. Many years later he wrote in his autobiographical Ex-Fellwanderer:

“…quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. …”

The view inspired him to walk on the fells and write the guidebooks that inspired many others to do the same.

Amazingly, I’d never been up to Orrest Head before and wondered whether it would live up to the hype.

On a bright, sunny late winter’s day (or is 1st March the first day of Spring?) it did!

The Coniston Fells

It was busy at the summit, mind. The National Park have created a winding, mild gradient path to the summit up from Windermere village, increasing accessability so that more people can enjoy the views.

After soaking up the views I made my way down the steep but short descent on the north side of the hill.

At the bottom of the hill crossing the fields towards “The Causeway” farm. My destination visible of the right of the horizon
After crossing some fields and walking along a couple of short stretches of tarmac on minor roads, I set off up Dubbs Road, a rough track that is accessible to “off road” vehicles that have been controvesial in the Lakes. There were none about today, mind.
My objective, Sour Howes, ahead.
I passed the small Dubbs Reservoir
Carrying on allong the lane – much rougher underfoot after the reservoir
The village of Troutbeck under Wansfell
Looking over to Windermere and the Coniston Fells

Just before a copse on the left I passed through a gate onto the fell. There are no paths up the fell marked on the OS and Harvey maps, but it’s Open Access land and there are a number of access points – with a stile a short distance after the gate.

It was a steep climb but I was rewarded with superb views over to the western arm of the Kentmere horseshoe.

Part way up I found I was having great difficulty putting one step in front of another. I guessed what was happening so I stopped and tested my blood sugar. Oops. I hadn’t been eating enough and my blood sugar had dropped and I was verging on a hypo. Time for a rest and something to eat to boost my sugar. But as I munched on some dried apricots I felt something hard and metallic in my mouth. Blast, a filling had come loose. Standing up I could see I just had a signal on my phone, time to make a call. I didn’t think that the Mountain Rescue would have been too keen on coming out to fix my filling, but I managed to get through to my dentist and, very fortunately , was able to book an appointment for the next afternoon.

After the snack had done it’s job I continued on up the fell. It’s not so high, just 483 metres (1,585 feet), mainly grassy slopes with some rocky outcrops. The summit consists of a number of lumps and bumps making it difficult to locate the highest point. The views on a bright sunny day were extensive

A panorama snapped with my phone
To the south west there was an extensive view over Windermere
A close up of the Coniston fells
Zooming in a little on the fells to the west including Pike O’Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Scafell and Scafell Pike (peeking through from behind), Bowfell, Great End and Great Gable
Red Screes
Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke

Looking eastwards Kendal and the Howgill Fells were visible in the distance

Now why is the fell called “Sour Hows”? Who knows? However

Sour Howes ‘Poor, wet’ plus ‘bumpy hill top’ is the straightforward explanation

LDWA Website

Seems to sum it up!

I could have stopped up there for longer but decided to continue on my way. I was tempted to carry on the ridge to Salllows, another modest peak. It was possible to add that to my iteniary and still get back to Windermere before dark and catch a later train. But after my little incident I decided against doing that. I didn’t think that I had enough food left in my rucksack and I didn’t want to risk a hypo up on the fells, so, somewhat reluctantly, I started my descent down the fell.

Reaching the Dubbs road, rather than retrace my steps I turned right and carried on up the track a short distance before turning down another rough track, the Longmire Road, which headed back in the direction of Windermere.

I couldn’t help but keep looking back to take in the views of the Kentmere Fells


But eventually, I left them behind me as I made my way past farms and through fields back towards Orrest Head.


I carried on towards the top of Orrest Head

Looking back towards Troutbeck

I didn’t linger too long. Looking at my watch I realised that I had a good chance of making the next train back to Wigan. So I set off down the hill and reached the station with enough time to remove my gaiters (they were a blessing after crossing a lot of boggy ground) and reorganising myself before the train pulled in.

There are pros and cons to taking the train – the walking route options are restricted somewhat by the timetable, but it’s better for the environment and I didn’t have to battle through traffic when I was tired after my walk. So I settled back, took in the views from the window and listened to some podcasts. I was back in Wigan in just less than 90 minutes, less stressed than if I’d driven. A 20 minute walk later and I was back home with the kettle on. It would have been good to stay longer in the Lakes, but the weather was due to turn the next day (and it did!) plus I had that visit to the dentist to look forward to 😬

16 thoughts on “Sour Howes

  1. It has come to that – book a dental appointment, maybe chat to my solicitor, order a pizza, arrange an MOT, ask advice from my GP – well maybe not. All from the summit of a Lakeland Fell.
    Glad you were able to continue, you are on a roll with the good weather.
    You make me feel guilty with my carbon footprint, whatever that is. I’m only a size 8.
    Must take the train or bus far more on my walks. Although in the last couple of Covid years I have stayed mainly local. Not a flight in sight.

  2. I’m not in the habit of making calls when I’m out walking – but you have to get in quick if you want an early appointment at the dentist!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.