There are a wide variety of things to see and activities in the town itself, and you can spend your holiday quite happily without leaving Ambleside should you choose to. Here are some options for you to consider:
Superb climbing facility on Lake Road with indoor climbling wall, bouldering room, and a cafe. Open to all over 5 years old and above, and open for evening sessions. – http://www.amblesideadventure.co.uk/ambleside-wall/
Excellent cinema, live music venue, cafe and vegetarian restaurant on Compston Road. The cinema shows all the latest movies, and the associated Fellinis screen on King Street shows many arthouse films. The Jazz Bar generally offers live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, mixing contemporary jazz and world music in a suitably ambient atmosphere. You can even purchase a combined cinema ticket and meal deal. – http://www.zeffirellis.com
This shop has many fascinating rock and minerals on display and for sale, a gem pit for children to play in, as well as a Dinosaur Den. You can design your own gemstone bracelet here too. – http://www.rockshop.co.uk
A magnificent gardener’s mecca with a huge range of plants and shrubs, and a wide selection of gift ideas. Wonderful Christmas displays.
An icon of Ambleside, and the Lake District in general, the Bridge House is a quirky stone built structure straddling Stock Beck on Rydal Road. A must-see, and essential inspiration for photographers and painters.
Situated on Rydal Road near the entrance to the University of Cumbria Campus, and opposite the Rydal Road car park, The Armitt is dedicated to local culture, and the gallery, museum and library includes collections relating to Beatrix Potter and the artist Kurt Schwitters amongst many others.
The Lake District has long been associated with poetic and artistic inspiration, and Ambleside has several galleries dedicated to local work, including The Cookhouse Gallery on Church Street and The Peter Hill Gallery on Lake Road. You will also want to visit The Heaton Cooper Gallery at Grasmere.
Between Ambleside and Waterhead lie the fascinating remains of a Roman fort in the care of the National Trust. We suggest combining a visit here with a stroll along the river bank nearby or a picnic in adjacent Borran’s Park, overlooking the lake.
Tennis, bowls, pitch and putt, crazy golf, and tennis, are among the options at the local recreation ground near the church at the southern end of Compston Road. There is also Rothay Park, past the church nearby, for picnics, strolls, and a children’s play area.
Children’s indoor adventure play facility on Rothay Road near Ambleside Bowling Club, perfect for using up excess energy on those rainy days.
Zeffirellis, The Lily, The Unicorn Inn, The Churchills Inn, The Royal Oak, and The Ambleside Tavern all offer live music events at various times.
The Cellar Bar below The Queens Hotel, The Churchill Inn, and The Ambleside Tavern are all good choices for viewing sporting events.
For those wishing to unwind with a cooling drink on a sunny day, there is outdoor seating available at the Salutation Hotel and The White Lion Hotel in the town centre, and an excellent beer garden by the lake at The Wateredge Inn and also at the YHA at Waterhead.
Although there are plenty of things to do in Ambleside itself, the town offers a terrific central location for enjoying the wider Lake District by car, bus, bike, or on foot. Going north, the A591 takes you to Wordsworth’s picturesque chosen home of Grasmere, where you can visit the poets grave at rustic St. Oswald’s church and try traditional Grasmere Gingerbread at the quaint little shop in the village centre, and further on to Keswick and the rugged and stunning North Lakes, and is a major bus route. This main artery of the Lake District runs south to Bowness and Windermere, and we’d recommend a visit there and also beyond to the soft and green rolling hills and pastures of the Lyth Valley. Further south still, Kendal is a larger market town with excellent facilities and attractions, and is perfect for shopping with several large supermarkets. West, and the A593 sets you on route to Hawkshead, and the lake and hills of Coniston, while to the east the scenic and spectacular Kirkstone Pass conveys you to Patterdale and the beauty of Ullswater.
There are many superb eateries, pubs, restaurants and cafes in the town centre itself and the surrounding area, including at Waterhead by the lake. Be sure to try English Lakes Ice Cream while here, available at many outlets. There are several takeaway options, including three fish and chip shops, two in the town centre near Zeffirellis cinema, and one by the pier at Waterhead. The Pizza Place and Ambleside Pizza will deliver to you, and the Doi Intanon Thai and Spice of Bengal curry house offer takeaway options, as do The Lucky Dragon and The China Cottage Chinese restaurants.
Follow our link below for some suggestions on places to eat out in Ambleside:
Don’t worry if you haven’t brought the ideal equipment with you, as Ambleside is full of excellent climbing and walking stores. We recommend a preparatory visit to one of the excellent independent bookstores in town to purchase a walking guide, of which there are many to suit your requirements, including guides for climbers, committed and less committed ramblers, those with limited mobility, those with dogs, and even for those who only wish to undertake a walk if it has a welcoming country pub en-route! An Ordinance Survey map is a wise supplement to the guide, especially for longer routes. Wearings’, Fred Holdsworth’s, and Henry Roberts’ bookshops are all on Lake Road and Rydal Road in the town centre.
Walking has to rank as one of the very most popular things to do near Ambleside, and the range of walks available directly from and nearby the town, and in the surrounding area, is astounding. The following are among our recommendations, and feature in many of the local guidebooks:
One of our favourites because it takes in the fantastic views from Loughrigg Terrace, overlooking Grasmere and Rydal lakes. You can begin in Rothay Park before heading up onto Loughrigg Fell and making your way round to Grasmere and back to Ambleside via Rydal. Not the the toughest walk, but takes in some height and very beautiful. 3-4 hrs round trip.
You can choose whether or not to include the steep climb of Wansfell, with its wonderful views, but either way this walk is full of lovely scenery, and The Mortal Man pub in Troutbeck provides an excellent watering hole en-route. 2-3 hrs there and back. For a shorter ramble, just make your way up to Jenkin’s Crag in the woods near the Ambleside end of the walk to enjoy the lovely views over valley and lake.
Be sure to make the short trip up hill through woodland to Stockgyll Force waterfalls, especially after some rainfall. Begin on the road behind Pavers Shoe store and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, near the car park for the Salutation Hotel. 1-2 hrs there and back.
Set back from the lake just as you leave Ambleside for Windermere, this national trust garden is well worth a wander, and you can access Skelgyll Woods from here for an extended walk and see some of the tallest trees in Cumbria along the way.
Begin either at Rydal or Ambleside and ascend to the famous ridge running in its iconic horseshoe curve and offering several miles of breathtaking mountain walking and views.
Venturing a little further afield there are many options for things to do near Ambleside to satisfy all visitors to the area. We suggest:
Windermere Lake Cruises
Be sure to take a steamer on England’s longest lake from the pier at Waterhead. You can also hire row boats from here. The steamers take you south to Bowness-on-Windermere or Lakeside. Visit the aquarium (http://www.lakesaquarium.co.uk) at Lakeside and Wray Castle on the western shore of the lake.
Low Wood Watersports and Activities Centre
The centre is located on the lake shore a couple of miles along the A591 south of Ambleside and things to do include water skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and motor boat hire.
Ghyllside Cycles and Bike Treks are cycle retailers both based in Ambleside and offer bike hire along with servicing.
Brockhole Visitor Centre
The Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole at few miles to the south offers a comprehensive experience near Ambleside and things to do include a tree top trek, pony rides, trails and orienteering, mini-golf, and strolls through acres of gardens and grounds.
This mock-gothic castle is superbly situated on Windermere’s western flank, a few miles from Ambleside. It is empty of furnishings, but you can take a guided tour to explore the castle’s history, and there is a cafe too. It is also worth visiting for a stroll in the woodlands, a picnic in the fields by the lakeshore, or an exciting time for children on the adventure playground. We recommend taking a boat trip from Ambleside pier, as some of the steamers schedule a stop here.
Self-drive guided off-road 4×4 tours. See the Lake District from a new perspective and experience the adrenalin of driving your very own specially prepared 4×4 over rugged tracks through Lakeland’s finest scenery.
Explore the first family home of William Wordsworth and see the personal belongings of one of Britain’s all-time greatest poets. Take a guided tour of the cottage and peruse the fascinating museum next door.
Ambleside is easy to reach by train from the London Euston to Glasgow line. Travel to Oxenholme station by Kendal, and from there to Windermere station. A short bus journey will then bring you to Ambleside. Blackpool, Liverpool, and Manchester are the nearest charter airports. Motorway travellers from the south should exit the M6 at Junction 36, while those coming from the north can enter the Lakes from Junction 40 at Penrith.
Information about bus routes in the Lake District can be found using the following link: http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/public-transport-road-safety/transport/publictransport/busserv/busservmap.asp