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, this place has everything you need to dust away the cobwebs and enjoy some quality me time. Whether you want to spend your time relaxing in a fancy hotel spa, to rambling around the many beautiful walking routes on offer, the area has something for everyone.
With only living a couple of hours away from this beautiful part of the world, I have managed to spend plenty of time visiting the area over the years and have 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:
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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. Personally I choose to walk as much as I could taking in some of the most beautiful views and landscapes.
If you are up to it, I recommend getting your walking boots out and having a ramble up some of the walking trails especially those which take you up some of the hills as the views are excellent especially on a clear day. Be sure to take plenty of water and some snacks if you do though as some of the trails can be quite strenuous.
However you will surely find some welcoming local pubs on your way down the trails to enjoy some local beer and a much deserved pub lunch. For those who prefer the more casual walk there are also plenty of lakeside walks that are quite easy going.
For details of 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 to take the Windermere streamer down to Lakeside pier where you can then hop on the train.
You can buy joint boat and train tickets at the pier and boats coincide with the train timetable so you literally get off the boat and get straight onto the train. The train then takes you a few miles up the track to Haverthwaite train station where 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 as well as afternoon tea although this has to be booked in advance.
For more details on visiting the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Light Railway click here
For more details on the Windermere Steamers click here
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 the age of 80.
This 16th century house is in a spectacular location nested in between Ambleside and Grasmere with fabulous views across Lake Windermere and Rydal Water.
The house is still owned by the Wordsworth family and has been left in virtually the same condition as it was when William Wordsworth was alive and is home to many of the family’s prized possessions and portraits. The 5 acre gardens have also been left as they would of been when the poet was alive and consists of fell-side terraces, rock pools and an ancient mound.
For more details on visiting Rydal Mount & Gardens click here.
After visiting Rydal Mount it’s also worth visiting the Rydal Hall that sits further down the hill, this is a lovely stately home with beautiful landscaped gardens and great views of the surrounding countryside.
For more details on visiting Rydal Hall click here.
4. Wray Castle
Not to be confused with an old historic castle, Wray castle was more of an statement of wealth. The castle was only built 180 years ago by a wealthy Liverpool surgeon who wanted to retire to the lakes with his wife. 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 Castles very own pier, we warned though, it a steep walk up to the castle from the pier.
For more details about visiting Wray Castle click here.
To get free entrance to Wray Castle and all other National Trust sites around the UK I recommend becoming a National Trust member here.
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 you don’t need to get off at any point, if It’s a nice day you can just stay aboard and do a round trip taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. If you get the launch to Bowness you can catch one of the bigger steamer boats that do longer trips and also have a cafe on board.
For more information on the Windermere cruises click here
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. Whilst walking through the woods you will see various signs leading the way as well as some viewing points protected by fencing.
Once you reach the top you pass over the waterfall and descend down the opposite side. The trail is generally an easy climb; however there are many uneven spots and uprooted tree roots to watch out for along the way.
For more details about this route and a longer route taking in some open fell walks check out the Walking English man here
7. Water Sports
Of course being located on the shores of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is a great place to try ya hand at some water sports.
There are various centres around the lake catering for various levels weather that’s just taking a rowing boat out or trying out some paddle boarding, there is something for everyone.
If you just want to take out a canoe or small boat you can hire these in many places around the lake including the Ambleside pier. However, if you want some more serious action then check out Low Wood Bay Water Sports Centre.
8. Take a trip to Grasmere
Just 30 minutes’ 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 century with the local church dating back to the 13th century.
Grasmere sits peacefully on the shores of Grasmere Lake which leads onto Rydal Water and is great for swimming, kayaking and rowing as there are no motor boats allowed.
There are also some beautiful walks taking in the fells and the beautiful lake views.
If taking public transport to Grasmere, you can catch the bus direct 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 here, 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, now mostly known for the death of Donald Campbell who died attempting to break the world water speed record on the lake.
His aim was to better 300 miles per hour, which he did on 4th January 1967, but the craft, ‘Bluebird K7’, shot up into the air and disappeared into the lake. Until early in 2001, his body had never been found.
The small Ruskin Museum tells the story as well as showing various Donald Campbell memorabilia, and is home to the actual tail fin of K7, as well as the air intake of the Bristol Orpheus engine recovered in 2001.
Lake Coniston can also be reached easily from Ambleside via bus, check out the timetables here.
Looking to spend a few days on Lake Windermere, then check out my 3 day Lake Windermere Itinerary showing you what I think is the perfect way to explore this area of the Lake District in 3 short days!
So there you have it my best things to do in Ambleside. Have you been to Ambleside, would you add anything else to this list? Let me know in the comments below. Plus if you have enjoyed reading this article then please share on your favourite social media and subscribe to hear more about my travel adventures.
Thanks for reading,