Lake District Towns and Villages
Ambleside in the Lake District National Park
Ambleside, 'the pastures by the river sandbanks', is situated about a mile north of Waterhead, which is at the northern end of Lake Winderemere, sitting on the river Rothay, surrounded almost on three sides by Lakeland fells. To the north is Fairfield, which at over 2000ft is a genuine mountain, to the east is Wansfell and in the west is Loughrigg, an easy fell but with some pleasant views.
It makes for an ideal base for touring the Central Fells and villages with Grasmere, Windermere, the langdale pikes all a short car / bus ride away. It is a lively community, despite the quite horrendous traffic problems during the summer months with many shops catering for the hiking and climbing fraternity. There are also some excellent galleries, craft and gift shops as well as Zafferelli's Arcade, a modern arcade situated under the cinema in what use to be the old auction rooms.
There has been a settlement here since Roman times for they had established a fort called Galava to defend the road which crossed High Street from Brougham and went across Hard Knott to Ravenglass. A market charter was granted in 1650 and a weekly market is still held on Wednesday in the car park behind Church Street.
The most famous building in Ambleside, and possibly one of the most photographed in the Lake District, must be Bridge House, which stands over Stock Beck in Bridge Street. It is now a National Trust shop but at various times it has been a tea room, a cobblers, an apple store for Ambleside Hall and a home for a family of eight!!
St Mary's Church is a 19th century plesant looking building, with an impressive spire, tucked away at the bottom of Compston Road. It contains a Wordsworth chapel, Wordsworth having had an office in the town when he was Distributor of stamps for Westmoreland. July sees a rush bearing ceremony, dating back to medieval times, where children of the town parade through it bearing rushes which are then laid down in the church.
Aside from the craft shops etc, other attractions in the locality include Brockhole, the National Park Visitor Centre, which you can reach by boat from from Waterhead, making for a pleasant excursion.
Ambleside has had many literary connections, information on these and more can be discovered in the Armitt Library which houses a fascinating collection of local documents and artifacts.
There is Hayes Garden Centre, and Stagshaws Gardens, owned by the National Trust is open April to June daily. In the evenings there is Zefferelli's cinema, and occasional musical and theatrical performances at the Charlotte Mason College. There are plenty of places to eat and drink.
Ambleside sports is held in early August and second only to Grasmere in importance. It is held in Rydal Park and has lots of traditional sports, such as Cumberland and Westmoreland wrestling and fell racing.
Ambleside is a good centre for low level walks, with the wooded Stock Ghyll and its attractive waterfall, just an hours ramble. Wansfell provides a superb view of the whole of windermere and a circular route takes you down into Troutbeck and back, though it can be rather strenuous at 1500 feet. Loughrigg is good for a couple of hours of easy rambling. There are many others just a short distance away, or you can take a stroll or just relax in Rothay Park by the river.
Lake steamers can be caught all year round for a cruise on Windermere.
For accommodation in Ambleside see Hotels and Guest Houses in Ambleside
More information from Ambleside Online
Langdale and ambleside mountain rescue at Mountain Rescue