5 reasons to visit Ambleside
- Credit: Archant
However many times you’ve visited, there is still much to see and do in this pleasant lakeside town
Ambleside is one of the most popular towns in the Lake District. The town stands at the head of Windermere and in the middle of some of England’s finest scenery but the town itself can be a rewarding adventure if you step off the busy main roads.
The emphasis here is on the unusual, with shops, many of them in narrow passages or yards, offering everything from jewellery made from locally quarried stone to home-made chocolates and dozens of local beers.
There are also scores of shops selling walking equipment, mountaineering gear and camping kit and a very good book shop which hasn’t allowed itself to be dominated by Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.
1. Ambleside is a popular base for climbing, hiking and biking and there are more glorious walks in and around the town than you can shake a walking stick at. For the experienced adventurer there are challenging routes up into the hills, while for the rest of us, there’s a pleasant stroll from the town centre to the Stock Ghyll Force waterfall.
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2. No visit to Ambleside would be complete without a trip to, or out on, Windermere. The cruisers which ply their trade on the lake stop here, or if you’d rather be your own skipper, you can hire a rowing boat. Another famous landmark is Bridge House, a tiny property now owned by the National Trust which is one of the country’s most photographed buildings. Built as a summer house and apple store, the two-room house was also once home to a basket maker who somehow managed to bring up six children there.
3. One of the most testing roads in Britain leads out of Ambleside, but it’s worth the effort because the Kirkstone Pass Inn stands at the top of The Struggle. Parts of the pub were built in the late 15th century, although the site is said to have been a monks’ retreat for many years. At 1489ft, it is the third highest pub in England and the Kirkstone Pass Road is the highest road pass in the Lake District with some of the most spectacular views although when the cloud descends it can be very hard to see anything at all.
4. You’ll be spoiled for choice with cafes, pubs, restaurants and tearooms all over town. Zeffirelli’s and Fellini’s are great for vegetarian food while The Old Stamp House is a fellow Lancashire Life Food and Drink Award finalist. For good beer in a traditional Lakeland inn, try the Golden Rule on Smithy Brow.
5. Visit the wonderful Armitt Museum on Rydal Road which houses a charming collection of eclectic artefacts.
Where it is: Ambleside stands at the head of Windermere on the A591. Typing LA22 9DJ into your satnav should take you to the town centre.
Where to park: There are pay and display car parks on the edge of the town centre and some free on-street parking is available.