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Lake District Tourist Guide - Local Information

Ambleside



Location

On the A591 by road, the town of Ambleside sits between Windermere town and the hamlet of Rydal. By water it is between Lake Windermere and Lake Rydal. Topographically it is ringed by wooded hills and backed by mountains from the north, east and west.

Major tourist town

It is a well serviced major tourist town with shops, hotels, restaurants, tearooms and a two screen cinema (Zeffirellis, next to the restaurant). The town is attractive as a base for hikers and trekkers having many outdoor equipment shops.

Centre of the Lake District

Ambleside is central for exploring the whole Lake District but also at a crossroads for superb scenic drives along winding mountain roads. The Kirkdale Pass goes through the Troutbeck Valley and on to Ullswater. Toward the west, the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes take you around the peaks of the Langdale Fells, which include Scafell Pike, at 977m, the highest mountain in England.

Hiking and climbing

Located beside a range of fells the town suits both seasoned climbers and beginners. Routes along Loughrigg and Stock Ghyll Force are known for scenic beauty. Several classic hike circuits start from Ambleside such as the 16km Fairfield Horseshoe. Loughrigg, leads on to Grasmere through steep hills woodland and farms. Stock Ghyll Force, an 18m waterfall in a narrow canyon, can take you through farmland to the rocky outcrop of Jenkins Crag, via the little village of Troutbeck.

The Golden Rule in Smithy Brow, Ambleside, is a great pub stop for walkers, climbers and paragliders. The landlord is himself a paragliding instructor. Real ale, meals and light snacks are available.

Buildings and history

In a town made of slate stone, How Head is one of the oldest buildings dating back in part to the 16th century. With circular chimneys and stone mullioned windows, it includes stone from an old Roman fort at Waterhead and cobbles from the bed of Stock Ghyll Beck. The Hall has now been converted into several residences and some self catering and bed and breakfast accommodation.

The local tourist office is at Market Cross, see [email protected], for information and assistance.

The famous Bridge House is a much photographed building, being a tiny two storey stone dwelling built spanning the beck, apparently to avoid paying land tax. It is said to have once housed a family with six! It is now a National Trust shop.

Wordsworth

William Wordsworth lived at Rydal Mount (www.rydalmount.co.uk) outside the town from 1813 until his death in 1850. This 16th century house with spacious gardens contains family relics and first editions. Dove Cottage, an earlier home of Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, is closer to Grasmere.

Beatrix Potter

The villages of Sawrey, Wray and Hawkshead, where Beatrix Potter lived and worked, are all within easy reach of Ambleside. On her early family's visits, she found the inspiration for her children's stories.

Accommodation

There are plenty of Ambleside b&b. The mid price range Compston House Hotel is American themed: all the rooms being named after US states.

The four-star town house Waterhead Hotel is rather more expensive. The bedrooms here are named after local waterfalls. Half a mile from Ambleside, it is in prime position on the shores of Lake Windermere. Email: [email protected]

The Gables, www.thegables-ambleside.co.uk is a half-timbered and impressive bed and breakfast with a simply styled interior.

Two hostels, a backpackers and a Youth Hostel Association one, are near the town. A National Trust campsite at Low Wray is three miles to the south.

What to do, where to go

Low Wood Water Sports and Activity Centre offers tuition but also hires out row boats, kayaks, canoes, sailing boats and motor boats. Email: [email protected]

Ambleside is on the Windermere Lake Cruises route,


See also Windermere article.

The Armitt Museum has exhibits of local interest.




Ambleside b&b



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