: Location Windermere lake

Ambleside, a small town in the Lake District, has now become a major tourist resort with shops, restaurants, cinema and a large selection of places to stay. It is very popular with walkers and climbers and is one of the best bases for exploring the Lake District.

The Market Cross and Tourist Information Centre

image of Ambleside Market Cross and Tourist Information Centre in the lake district

Things to Do in Ambleside

The Windermere lake ferry terminal at Waterhead Pier dates back to 1845. Today ferries can be taken to Bowness and Lakeside pier near Newby Bridge, Wray Castle and Brockhole Visitor Centre.

In the summer months you can take a horse drawn carriage from the centre of Ambleside for the 1 mile to Waterhead Pier. As well as the ferry and cruise services (above) here you can hire motor and rowing boats or feed the ducks and swans.

Waterhead Pier for Windermere Lake Cruises and Boat Hire

image of Waterhead pier on Windermere lake at Ambleside in the lake district

A short ferry ride from Waterhead is Brockhole, the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre. Set in 30 acres of gardens it offers boat hire, bike hire, tree top trek, laser clay shooting and archery as well as special family events. Facilities are excellent, including plenty of places to eat and drink. Accessibility is very good.

There is a huge raft of outdoor adventure activities available around Ambleside and Windermere lake. For more details of activities from abseiling and climbing to bushcraft and sailing see the main Visit Cumbria Activities section or see Walks in the South Lake District for fell walks around Ambleside.

Places to Visit in Ambleside

A short walk from the centre of the village leads to Stock Ghyll Force, a spectacular 70 foot waterfall which may be viewed safely from a railed viewpoint. In spring the area under the trees is a carpet of daffodils. Once there were 12 watermills driven by the power of Stock Ghyll and other local becks.

The 17th Century Bridge House over Stock Ghyll beck is one of the most photographed scenes in Lakeland. It is owned by the National Trust. You can visit without charge to see the 2 sparsely furnished rooms.

The Bridge House over the Stock Ghyll beck

image of Bridge House over the Stock Ghyll beck in Ambleside in the Lake District

Just a short walk from Ambleside are the National Trust owned Stagshaw Gardens. Covering about 8 acres, the gardens have a fine collections of rhododendrons and azaleas and ericaceous trees and shrubs.

The Armitt Museum on Rydal Rd is a purpose built home for a collection of books, manuscripts, water-colours, archaeological remains, geological specimens and assorted paraphernalia. It also houses an area dedicated to Beatrix Potter.

Although the remains of Galava Roman Fort lack the majestic location of Hard Knott Fort and impressive structure of Ravenglass Roman Bath House, Galava has a pleasant situation. It lies adjacent to the open area of Borrans Park, at Waterhead, just outside the town.

Hayes Garden World on Lake Road in Ambleside is a pleasant all weather attraction. It has a very large array of plants, aquatic life and gifts of a high standard. There is also a well regarded tea room and parking is free while you are on the property.

As well as the above there are many more places to visit near Ambleside listed in the Things to Do Around Windermere Section.

Ambleside, Lake Windermere and Waterhead Pier on the right

image of an aerial view of Ambleside, Lake Windermere and Waterhead Pier in the lake district

What’s On in Ambleside

Annual Events

Every year on the first Saturday in July, Ambleside celebrates its Rushbearing Festival. This custom dates back to the days when the earthen floor of the church was strewn with rushes for warmth and cleanliness.

Ambleside Sports, held every August, is one of the most well known and well attended traditional countryside sports fairs in Cumbria. It is one of the few places to view the famous Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling.

Rydal Sheepdog Trials & Hound Show is also held in August every year at Rydal Park, just half a mile north of Ambleside. One of the premier events of its type, spectators are welcome and competitors come from around the country.

The Ambleside Christmas Lights & Firework Display fair is held in November. The celebrations spread across the town streets and link up with Christmas themed cruises on Windermere lake.

Just 4 miles up the road at Grasmere village is the famous Grasmere Sports. Similar to Ambleside Sports, the event is held in late August.

What’s On Diary

To see lots more events around Ambleside and find out what’s on during your visit see What’s On around Windermere lake.

Ambleside History

Although there has been a settlement since pre-Roman times, Ambleside is largely Victorian. A fort beside Borrans Park – named Galava – was built in Ambleside by the Romans, housing some 500 soldiers. It was built to defend the lower fells of South Lakeland from invasion by the Picts and Scots. Also to guard the road to the Roman Port at Ravenglass via Hardknott Pass.

Many well known characters have been connected with Ambleside, including William Wordsworth, Hardwicke Rawnsley, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter. More about these people can be found in the The Armitt Museum, (opposite the main car park entrance).

William Wordsworth had an office here, in Church St, as a result of his role as Collector of Stamps for Westmorland. He was elected to the post soon after his family moved to their house at Rydal Mount.

St Mary’s Church, completed in 1854, was designed by Sr George Gilbert Scott in the Early English style. It is mainly of local ‘blue’ stone, with a sandstone spire, an unusual feature for a Lakeland church. There is a chapel devoted to the memory of William Wordsworth

Ambleside Lodges, Log Cabins & Holiday Parks

There are also a number of excellent Glamping sites around Ambleside offering yurts, tipis, pods, shepherd’s huts and Gypsy Vardos.

Go to Ambleside photo gallery >>>

Related pages :

Ambleside Hotels & B&Bs

Compston Road is in the town centre and has a large range of B&B’s

image of B&Bs in Compston Road in Ambleside in the lake district

Photograph contributors: Julian Thurgood, Ann Bowker , Jonathan Webb , Simon Ledingham