Ambleside is a pretty, historical town with lots of excellent hotels, restaurants, pubs and other amenities, making it a great base for touring the many attractions of the southern and central Lake District. The Ambleside tourist information board has provided us with the following info.
Ambleside has evidence of pre-Roman settlement, including the fort ‘Galava’ found in the town’s Borrans Park, which was built to defend the South Lakeland fells from invasion. However Ambleside’s architecture is predominantly Victorian.
The town is also known for its literary history, with famous names such as William Wordsworth, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter – all of whom have spent considerable time in the area. If you are particularly interested in literature, you should visit nearby Grasmere and Rydal Mount, two of Wordsworth’s former homes, and Hawkshead, a quaint and appealing village, which was Beatrix Potter’s home for many years and the location for the recent film about her life.
To learn more about the area, you can visit the interesting Ambleside Museum on Rydal Road, which also centres on the area’s literary heritage.
Ambleside is located at the northern end of Lake Windermere, five miles northwest of Windermere town. It is possible to take steamers and launches from the pier at Waterhead (around half a mile from Ambleside’s town centre) to visit nearby Bowness or Lakeside, the starting point for the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway.
History enthusiasts will benefit from taking a stroll along the ‘Ambleside Heritage Trail’ which is detailed on a leaflet produced by Ambleside Civic Trust. This takes you through some of Ambleside’s most important sights, highlighting building of interest, including How Head, the town’s oldest building. You can pick up a leaflet in the Tourist Information Centre and from most of the Ambleside hotels.
Walkers will be spoilt for choice, as the town is surrounded by a number of impressive fells including Loughrigg, Red Screes and the Fairfield range, and some of the area’s finest walks can be started directly from the doorstep of the many hotels in Ambleside. If you’re not up for a challenging hike, there are shorter circuit walks to suit all abilities and there is a spectacular waterfall, Stock Ghyll, located at less than 1km from the town’s centre.
Ambleside is one of the Lake District’s best towns for shopping. There are numerous stores which cater specifically for walkers and other outdoors enthusiasts. There are also small supermarkets, clothes shops, bakeries and pharmacies. Every Wednesday, there is a small but interesting craft market which takes place on King Street, near the car park.
Eating, Drinking and Entertainment
Ambleside also boasts a number of eating options, ranging from fine restaurants serving British, European, French and Asian food to great value, hearty breakfast cafes. Some recommended options include The Glass House (classic British and European menu – located on Rydal Road), Lucy’s of Ambleside (classic British food – branches on Church St and St.Mary’s Lane) and The Drunken Duck Inn (a renowned gastro pub – located a little out of town in nearby Outgate). There are also a number of pubs and bars in the town itself.
For rainy days and evenings, there is a wonderful independent cinema, Zeffirelli’s, which has a good restaurant and bar attached, making it the perfect spot for a complete night out.