If you’re a planning a hiking holiday, romantic getaway or family vacation, here’s my list of the best things to do in Ambleside, The Lake District!
Climb Loughrigg for an amazing view!
Easily one of my favourite places to walk with my dog, the view of Windermere from the top is stunning. It is a fell, but fairly easy, so anyone with a average degree of fitness should be fine to make it. Start from Rothay Park and head out, away from town, over the two bridges. Turn right, over the cattle grid and then you will see a sign to go left. From here, head up for around 10 minutes, and then as the round curves steeply right, there will be some stone steps up the wall ahead. Take these, and you will walk across a small stream. From here it is quite steep, and you will be rewarded with great views of Ambleside. Once you reach the tarn at the top, turn left and keep walk until you basically are as high as you can get. You should be presented with something like this…!
So the Loughrigg walk is a personal favourite, but there are many great trails starting from Ambleside. For a more strenuous climb, and equally beautiful views, head up Wansfell, directions from the town centre here. If you only fancy a short wander, on the way to Wansfell you can find some waterfalls, about 20 minutes walking distance. Sweden Bridge is another nice route, slight incline but nothing too difficult. A flat and easy stroll, you can walk down to the Lake, taking in Galava Fort (roman ruins) and Borrans Park on the way. If you don’t take the left turn up to Loughrigg described above and just carry on the road, you will find yourself at Rydal. A pretty lake, and there are some caves to explore nearby. Pop in to the Tourist Information Centre for walking maps of the area.
If you like cycling, then Ambleside is a great base! Bring your own bike if you can, or rent on from BikeTreks. There are many cycle paths, and I love that you can take routes that avoid the road. I have an old second hand mountain bike, which serves me well. There are of course much more serious routes and downhill tracks in the Lake District. My favourite cycle route is from Ambleside to Sawrey ,around 8 miles. It takes you along the edge of Lake Windermere, and you get beautiful views of Fairfield. At Sawrey, you can turn around and come back, or take the ferry across to Bowness and cycle back along the road to Ambleside. It is also a nice ride under Loughrigg to Rydal, from here you can continue to Grasmere. The local buses are bicycle friendly, so you can hop on if don’t have the energy to come back!
Enjoy some local Ale!
With many microbreweries in the Lake District, the local pubs of Ambleside serve great local beers. In the summer, beer gardens are packed, particularly down near the lake. The Youth Hostel has a bar, and as soon as the sun comes out people flock there for the cheap drinks and great views. If you want a more traditional pub, try the Golden Rule or The Unicorn, and you will no doubt find yourself chatting to the locals and sitting next to a roaring fire by the end of the night.
If you are looking for things to do in Ambleside on a rainy day, you could easily spend an hour or so relaxing in a coffee shop and enjoying some cake. Ambleside is a vegetarians dream! Try The Rattle Ghyll Café (even non veggies will love their cake taster plates) or Ghandi’s for an all day veggie breakfast and tasty curries! A little out of Ambleside, don’t miss Chester’s on the River for the best cake selection imaginable!
One of the most noticeable things about Ambleside is the sheer volume of outdoor shops! If you’re looking for a new tent, backpack or jacket, you are in the right place! Even better, if you see a for sale sign in the window you may bag yourself a bargain. As well as outdoor shops, there are some quirky gift shops such as Detail. For unique jewelry, head to Silver Moon just a few metres away from the tourist information centre.
The Bridge House
Don’t miss this tiny house built over the river Rothay, in the centre of Ambleside. In the late 1800’s it is said to have housed a family of 8. The building is now owned by the National Trust, and is one of the most photographed buildings in the Lake District.
Things to do in Ambleside with kids
On a rainy day, you can spend some time at the Rock Shop, where kids can play in the “gem pit”, experience a dinosaur treasure hunt and make their own jewellery. The Ambleside Climbing Wall also offers a great indoor activity for all the family, you can book a taster session for full instructions. On a sunny day, rowing boats can be rented from Waterhead, a unique way to explore Windermere. If you are feeling really adventurous, try Treetop Trek at Brockhole. A series of obstacles, platforms and zip lines in the tree tops, sure to be a winner with older kids! White Platts offers tennis and mini golf, and can get very crowded during the summer. There is also a fantastic new children’s playground in Rothay Park.
Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments your top things to do in Ambleside!
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