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Things to do in Ambleside

Things to do in Ambleside

An all-year-round hub for walkers, climbers, and day-trippers, Ambleside sits at the top end of Lake Windermere. By the lake itself, just a short stroll from the main town is Waterhead and its pier, where the famous steamers allow you to experience the beauty of the area in leisurely fashion and travel to other landing points, including Bowness-on-Windermere, a few miles down the lake, and Lakeside at the southern tip. In the bustling town centre, top restaurants, welcoming cafes, cosy pubs, excellent outdoor stores, gift shops, and even a cinema, mingle with the charming slate-built houses. There are also beautiful nearby Ambleside walks.

In Ambleside

There are a wide variety of things to see and activities in the town itself. You can spend your holiday quite happily without leaving Ambleside should you choose to. Here are some options for you to consider:

Ambleside Climbing Wall

A superb climbing facility on Lake Road with an indoor climbing wall, bouldering room, and a cafe. Open to all over 5 years old and above, and open for evening sessions. –

Zefferellis Cinema and Jazz Bar

Excellent cinema, live music venue, cafe and vegetarian restaurant on Compston Road. The cinema shows all the latest movies. The associated Fellinis screen on King Street shows many arthouse films. The Jazz Bar generally offers live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The lineup mixes contemporary jazz and world music in a suitably ambient atmosphere. You can even buy a combined cinema ticket and meal deal. –

The Rock Shop

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. –

Hayes Garden World

A magnificent gardener’s mecca with a huge range of plants and shrubs, and a wide selection of gift ideas. Wonderful Christmas displays.

The Bridge House

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.

The Armitt Trust and Museum

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 include collections relating to Beatrix Potter and the artist Kurt Schwitters amongst many others.

Art Galleries

The Lake District has long been associated with poetic and artistic inspiration. Ambleside has several galleries dedicated to local work. This includes 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.

Galava Roman Fort

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 riverbank nearby. Or a picnic in adjacent Borran’s Park, overlooking the lake.

White Platts Recreation Ground

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.

Rufty Tuftys

Children’s indoor adventure play facility on Rothay Road near Ambleside Bowling Club. Perfect for using up excess energy on those rainy days.

Live Music

Zeffirellis, The Lily, The Unicorn Inn, The Churchills Inn, The Royal Oak, and The Ambleside Tavern all offer live music events at various times.

Sports Pub

The Cellar Bar below The Queens Hotel, The Churchill Inn, and The Ambleside Tavern are all good choices for viewing sporting events.

Beer Gardens

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. There is also an excellent beer garden by the lake at The Wateredge Inn and also at the YHA at Waterhead.

Exploring Ambleside

There are plenty of things to do in Ambleside itself. The town also 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. There you can visit the poets grave at rustic St. Oswald’s church. Try traditional Grasmere Gingerbread at the quaint little shop in the village centre.

From there, go 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. 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. It 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.

Getting to Ambleside

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: