9 Fabulous things to do in Ambleside
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9 Fabulous Things To Do In Ambleside!

One of my favourite places in the Lake District is the beautiful little town of Ambleside. Nestled on the northern tip of Lake Windermere. Ambleside has everything you need to dust away the cobwebs and enjoy some quality me time. Whether you want to relax in a fancy hotel spa or rambling around the many beautiful walking routes on offer, the area has something for everyone. 

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With only living a couple of hours away from this beautiful part of the world, I have spent plenty of time visiting the area over the years. I have also recently travelled to the area solo using only public transport, so everything I recommend visiting in the following post is very accessible for those without a car. So, without further ado, here are my top picks for things to do in Ambleside.

9 Fabulous Things To Do In Ambleside:

1. Enjoy The Beautiful Scenery

The area surrounding Ambleside is some of the most beautiful countryside in Great Britain and is best explored by foot or bike.

If you are up to it, get your walking boots out and go for a ramble up one of the fells or Wainwrights. However, Make sure you are fully prepared, as the weather in the lakes can change quickly, so having the right kit can be a lifesaver! If you are new to fell walking, I recommend reading and downloading the following safety advice from The Lake District Search and Rescue Association.

For details on popular walking trails around Ambleside check out the Walking English Man

2. Lakeside & Haverthwaite Light Railway

One of my favourite things I discovered on my last trip to Ambleside was the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Light Railway. From Ambleside, you need to take the Windermere streamer down to Lakeside Pier, where you can hop on the train. 

You can buy a joint boat and train tickets at the pier. The boats coincide with the train timetable, so you get off the boat and straight onto the train. The train then takes you a few miles up the track to Haverthwaite train station. Here, you can get off and explore the local area, including a fascinating train shed full of old steam trains and other vehicles. 

The station also has a lovely restaurant serving hot and cold food and traditional afternoon tea. If you’re interested in the latter option, please book in advance as it can get busy, especially in the summer.

3. Rydal Mount & Gardens

Rydal Mount and Gardens was once the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth, who lived here from 1813 to his death in 1850 at age 80. 

This 16th-century house is in a spectacular location nested between Ambleside and Grasmere. The fabulous views across Lake Windermere and Rydal Water made it the perfect place to live. 

The Wordsworth family still owns the house and has left it in virtually the same condition as when William Wordsworth was alive. It is also home to many of the family’s prized possessions and portraits. The 5-acre gardens have also been left as they would have been when the poet was alive and consist of fell-side terraces, rock pools and an ancient mound. 

After visiting Rydal Mount, it’s also worth visiting Rydal Hall, which sits further down the hill. This is a lovely stately home with beautifully landscaped gardens and great views of the surrounding countryside.

4. Wray Castle

Not to be confused with an old historic castle, Wray Castle was more of a statement of wealth. The castle was only built 180 years ago by a wealthy Liverpool surgeon. Inside, you won’t find any furniture. However, you can still walk around its many rooms and admire its church-like interior alongside its turrets. 

The castle is now owned by the National Trust, which provides various tours and activities throughout the year. To get to the castle, you can get one of the Windermere launches from Ambleside straight to the castle’s very own pier. However, it is a steep walk up to the castle from the pier.

I recommend becoming a National Trust member to get free entrance to Wray Castle and all other National Trust sites around the UK.

5. Cruise Around The Lake

One of the best things to do in Ambleside is to cruise along Lake Windermere. From Ambleside, you can get one of the Windermere launches to virtually any other part of the lake. 

However, if It’s a nice day, stay aboard and do a round trip. This is a great way to relax and take in the beautiful scenery. If you get the launch to Bowness, you can catch one of the bigger steamer boats that make longer trips. These bigger boats also have a cafe on board.

6. Stock Ghyll Force Waterfall

Just a short walk from the centre of Ambleside, you will find the spectacular 70-foot Stock Ghyll Force waterfall. 

The walk starts from the back of the Salutation Hotel, taking you up Stockghyll Lane until you reach the woods. Here, you will find a sign signalling the way towards the falls. Walking through the woods, you will see various signs leading the way. You will also find many viewing points protected by fencing. 

Once you reach the top, you pass over the waterfall and descend on the opposite side. The trail is generally an easy climb; however, there are many uneven spots and uprooted tree roots to watch out for.

7. Water Sports

Of course, being located on the shores of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is a great place to try some water sports. 

There are various centres around the lake catering to various levels. You could take a rowing boat out or try paddle boarding; there is something for everyone. 

If you want to take out a canoe or small boat, you can hire these in many places around the lake. However, if you want more serious action, check out the Low Wood Bay Water Sports Centre.

8. Take A Trip To Grasmere

Just 30 30-minute drive from Ambleside, you find the quaint little village of Grasmere, home to the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop. The village is home to many buildings dating back to the early 19th and 20th centuries, with the local church dating back to the 13th century. 

The area also has ties to William Wordsworth with him having two of his previous homes here, Allan bank and Dove cottage

Grasmere sits peacefully on the shores of Grasmere Lake, which leads onto Rydal Water and is excellent for swimming, kayaking and rowing, as no motorboats are allowed. 

If taking public transport to Grasmere, you can catch the bus directly from Ambleside. In the summer, there is also an open-top bus, which is great for checking out the views along the route.

For more information on bus routes and timetables, check out the Stagecoach website. They also have a great app to download, which I recommend using.

9. Take A Trip To Coniston

Another great trip from Ambleside is to visit Coniston Lake. Know mostly known for the death of Donald Campbell. He died on the lake whilst attempting to break the world water speed record.

He aimed to better 300 miles per hour. He accomplished this on 4th January 1967, but the craft, ‘Bluebird K7’, shot up into the air and disappeared into the lake. Until early 2001, his body had never been found. 

The small Ruskin Museum tells the story. It showcases various Donald Campbell memorabilia and is home to the actual tail fin of K7 and the air intake of the Bristol Orpheus engine recovered in 2001. 

Coniston can also be reached easily from Ambleside via bus.

Where To Stay In Ambleside?

Whatever your budget, there are many hotels, guest houses and hostels in Ambleside.

For budget travellers there are plenty of hostels to choose from, I recommend the YHA Ambleside as it’s situated in a beautiful location right on the shores of the lake close to the jetty. Prices start around £15 a night, depending on the time of year.

If this is your first time staying in a hostel, check out my guide for newbies for more information on whether hostel stays are for you. They are not for everyone, but the low cost gives me more money for activities and attractions.

Although I usually choose the hostel option, I was so exhausted from work on my last visit to Ambleside that I just wanted to escape and find some tranquillity, so I stayed in a local Bed & Breakfast. The Norwood House Bed & Breakfast was ideally situated in Ambleside town centre, only a short walk away from all the shops and restaurants, and only £50 per night for a single room, which I thought was a bargain! 

I could not recommend this place enough; Wendy, the host, was fabulous and cooked the most amazing English breakfast each morning and the usual cereals, fruit, yoghurt, fruit juices and, of course, a good old cup of tea or coffee. The rooms even came equipped with a kettle, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits, bath robes, wine glasses and a bottle opener ready for any pre-evening drinks. The place could not have been any more perfect!

If you’re looking for something special, then High Grassings Country House is highly recommended!

For booking accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com. This website offers the best-priced accommodation catering for all budgets and styles. Just pop in your requirements and it will give you a list of available accommodation. Perfect for picking out the best hostels, B&B or even some luxury escapes.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Ambleside is an idyllic destination for any traveller. From its breathtakingly beautiful scenic hikes to its abundance of leisurely activities and unique shops, Ambleside exudes an undeniable charm that captivates visitors. A trip here will not only fill your heart with adventure but also give you a sense of serenity and peacefulness that’s hard to find in the hustle and bustle of modern life. Whether you prefer to relax peacefully or jump into thrilling outdoor activities, there is something for everyone in Ambleside!

If you want to learn more about visiting the lakes, check out my comprehensive Lake District guide.

Thanks so much for stopping by; I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content in the next few weeks, so make sure you pop back to catch up! 

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Happy travels!

9 Fabulous things to do in Ambleside, the heart of the Lake District!
9 Fabulous things to do in Ambleside, the heart of the Lake District!

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