Geographically the most central town of the Southern Lakes, the centre of Ambleside lies a mile north from the head of lake Windermere in the Rothay valley. Ambleside has its roots in the medieval woolen trade, however today it is a popular base for exploring the National Park, though this does mean it tends to get rather crowded during the high season.
The setting is rather good, with high fell rising up above the grey stone buildings, a decent river, Stock Ghyll, with its. impressive 70ft waterfall, and lots of alleyways and twisty lanes to explore. Situated at the crossing of many old pack horse routes the town has a long history.
The Romans, on their way to Ravenglass in AD 79, paused and built Galava fort at Waterhead. Not much remains, but you can still see the basic outline. The most famous building is the Bridge House. A small, two storey, two room stone edifice, built over the river and probably the most photographed building in the lakes. Legend has it that over the years it has been an apple store, a cobblers shop and a bijou, des res, for hubby, wife and six children and today is a National Trust information centre and film star.
The oldest part of the town dates from the 15th century and lies on the Kirkstone side of the river. This was once the centre for a thriving corn and bobbin mill industry where a restored waterwheel can been seen just above the bridge, opposite Bridge House.
Shopping - Dining - Entertainment
There are lots of good little food shops, notable is Lucy's deli. Along with these you will find galleries and arts and crafts shops, as well as a couple of decent book shops, but the main commerce seems to be in outdoor clothing, mountain gear and boots. The oldest supplier is the Climbers Shop on Compston Road. Here you will get pro advice and pro equipment. Finally, for the keen gardener, there is Hays garden center, one of the largest in the North West.
For entertainment on a wet day there is Zeffirelli’s cinema with its own classy pizzeria. Dining out is varied, with a mixture of fast food and decent restaurants including Italian, Indian, Chinese and Thai, this along with a host of pubs and inns. Popular are Shelia’s Cottage down The Slack, Lucy’s On A Plate in Church Street and Lucy’s new venture, ‘Lucy 4’ Wine Bar & Bistro and finally The Glass House Cafe & Restaurant on Rydal Road. For coffee there is the ever popular Apple Pie Eating House & Bakery on Rydal Road.
Out And About - Local Walks - Activities
As well as exploring the lanes, there are some pleasant local walks. Stockghyll Lane brings you to the waterfall. Up Skelghyll Lane, a track takes you to Jenkin Cragg for some magnificent views of the mountains and lake.
A steepish climb up Nook End lane, past Nook End farm, opens to a track that takes in High and Low Sweden Bridges and on up to Rydal Fell and Fairfield for some serious high fell walking.
A short drive north brings you to Rydal Water. This is the perfect round lake trek, taking in some decent fell and lakeside, where the walk can be extended through to Grasmere.
A mile south is Waterhead, the northern terminus for the Windermere steamers. Here you can take a tour of the lake or hire a row or little electric powerboats. Also at Water head is a bike hire outlet for both road, mountain and electric assisted cycles.
Finally, for a leisurely day out you can visit Brockhole, the National Park Visitor Centre.There are indoor exhibitions, the famous Thomas Mawson gardens and an exciting adventure playground ensuring something for all the family, along with boat trips and hire rowing boats or canoes.
For more information about Ambleside you can visit Ambleside On Line at http://www.amblesideonline.co.uk/
For more information on our collection of fine Lake District Cottages and Lake District Self Catering Holiday Homes use our Availability Search or Lake District Cottage Browsers.
Lake District Cottages In The Ambleside Area
Links & Tourist Information Centres
Ambleside Tourist Information Centre
Ambleside On Line For lots of local information, attractions, activities, restaurants, shoping etc
Brockhole Visitor Centre, gardens and adventure playground
Museums & Galleries & Attractions
Armitt Collection & Public Library
Adrian Sankey Glass makers
Hayes Garden World
Bike - Boat Hire - Boat Trips
Easyriders Warterhead - Mountain Bikes & Yamaha Electric Assisted
Windermere Lake Cruises & Boat Hire
Waterhead Marina Lauch Site Tel 015394 32424
Cinema & Theatre
Lucy’s On A Plate
Lucy 4 Wine Bar & Bistro
Glass House Cafe & Restaurant
Apple Pie Eating House
The Log House
Purdeys Restaurant at Langdale Hotel
Pubs & Inns