Ambleside is a gorgeous and utterly English town, just north of Lake Windermere. Its astounding beauty was a popular retreat for writers looking for inspiration, including Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and, most famously, William Wordsworth. Today, it’s a tourist’s paradise. While relatively small, Ambleside is jam-packed with unique boutiques, incredible eateries and a range of historical attractions. At Snaptrip, we see Ambleside as all the best parts of the Lake District, condensed into one tiny town.
Where is Ambleside?
Ambleside is in the centre of the Lake District National Park, just north of Lake Windermere. It’s easily reached by car, by getting the bus from Windermere Station, or our favourite of all, with a lake cruise from Bowness-on-Windermere.
Ambleside things to do
- Stagshaw Gardens
- The Bridge House
- St Mary’s Church
- Hayes Garden World
- Hill Top
- Armitt Museum
- Ambleside Roman Fort
- Stock Ghyll Force
- Rydal Water
- White Platts Recreation Ground
Best for: Incredible colours and wonderful smells
A woodland garden maintained by the National Trust, during the spring and summer months Stagshaw is ablaze with incredible colours and wonderful scents. William Shakespeare once called England our ‘other Eden’, but we’re pretty sure that if he were talking about somewhere more specific, it would have been this glorious garden.
The Bridge House
Best for: A window to the past
One of Ambleside’s oldest residents, Bridge House originally belonged to the Braithwaites, one of the Lake District’s most influential families. Remarkably, the house has stood the same since the 17th century, watching the town develop around it. Today it serves as an unmissable window into Cumbria’s disappearing past.
St Mary’s Church
Best for: A photogenic view
A gorgeous gospel church in the heart of Ambleside, St Mary’s is immersed in the very best of the Lake District’s scenery. The church erupts out of a thick and wild wilderness, while Ambleside’s many mountains unravel behind. Inside, you’ll find a friendly and welcoming atmosphere waiting to greet locals and tourists alike.
Hayes Garden World
Best for: Seasonal celebrations
It says something that a garden centre has made our list. But don’t worry, we haven’t lost our touristy touch. As well as being one of the largest garden centres in North West England, and a lovely place to wander amongst the plants, Hayes Garden World plays host to an unrivalled variety of seasonal celebrations. Here, you can venture inside Santa’s Grotto or explore the Christmas Maze.
Best for: Beatrix Potter fans
The 17th century farmhouse of beloved children’s author, Beatrix Potter, has been frozen in a snapshot of her life. Hill Top house and its contents are so perfectly preserved, it looks as if Potter may have just popped out for a stroll around the local countryside.
Best for: The Lake District’s cultural heritage
While called a museum, the Armitt is more of a melting pot incorporating a library, gallery and museum, to preserve the Lake District’s cultural heritage. The diverse and enthralling attraction which began as a library, still holds many rare and unique treasures, including an important collection of works by Kurt Schwitters.
Ambleside Roman Fort
Best for: Ancient history
Sat on the shores of Lake Windermere, Ambleside Roman Fort is one of the few spots in Cumbria that makes Bridge House look youthful. Dating back to the second century, the fort was built under Hadrian’s rule to guard the Roman road from Brougham to Ravenglass and acts as a supply base for local soldiers.
Stock Ghyll Force
Best for: Natural beauty
Another short walk from Ambleside’s centre, Stock Ghyll Force is a spectacular 70-foot waterfall, crashing down beside, what in the springtime, is a carpet of daffodils. Travelling from the River Rothway, Stock Ghyll continues on and into the centre of Ambleside, passing under the famous Bridge House.
Best for: A favourite of William Wordsworth
While technically a short walk from Ambleside, this gorgeous lake is too iconic to miss. A favourite spot of the most famous poet to ever live in the Lake District, it’s said that William Wordsworth’s Seat at Rydal Water was the romantic poet’s favourite viewpoint in Cumbria. Both Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, two of Wordsworth’s homes by the lakeside, can be seen from the water’s edge.
White Platts Recreation Ground
Best for: A day of activities
Sat in the centre of Ambleside, White Platts Recreation Ground is a place for wholesome family fun, boasting the best mini golf in the Lake District. Home to a nine-hole mini-golf course, 90-metre hole, putting green and crazy golf, there’s no better place in Cumbria to let your competitive side run free.
What to eat
Nestled in the heart of Ambleside, inside a converted water-mill, this adorable cafe captures the quaint small-town vibes that make Ambleside so special. With a name as cute as its interior, the Giggling Goose cafe is the perfect spot to refuel with a cup of tea and a slice of cake, after an afternoon of exploring the local scenery. Best of all, on sunny days you can’t beat kicking back in the riverside garden.
Where to stay
Spacious, well-lit, and right in the centre of Ambleside, High Ridge is a contemporary-style apartment and the perfect base for exploring the town. Inside, there’s comfortable space for four explorers and you can even bring your four-legged friend along for the ride. Best of all, you get your own parking space, right outside the front. Meaning after a long day trekking the lakes, you won’t have to worry about having another walk back from your car.