What to do in Ambleside

Just 2 ½ miles from Skelwith Fold lies the scenic Lake District town of Ambleside. Thanks to its rich history and lakeside location, Ambleside is a hub for tourists and locals alike.

Here, we outline five of the best things to do in Ambleside:

Explore Lake Windermere

Things to Do in Ambleside – Lake Windermere

Just a mile away from Ambleside, on the northern edge of Lake Windermere, lies the Waterhead Pier. From here, Windermere Lake Cruises launch daily throughout the year, transporting travellers the full 12-mile length of Lake Windermere between Waterhead, Bowness and Lakeside. A full circular journey takes approximately three hours.

You can also board a smaller boat from Waterhead towards Wray Castle – a delightful mock-gothic building now owned by the National Trust.

Visit Beatrix Potter’s Cottage

Things to Do in Ambleside – Beatrix Potter’s Cottage

Credit: Allen Watkin

Ambleside was home to Beatrix Potter, one of Britain’s most beloved children’s authors – and it’s still easy to see why she found this town and its surrounding countryside so inspiring. However, to really get a taste of Ambleside as Beatrix Potter knew it, you should pay a visit to Hill Top, her 17th century farmhouse.

As picturesque on the inside as it is on the outside, this charming cottage is preserved just as it was during Beatrix Potter’s life. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular things to do in Ambleside, as it appeals to children and adults alike.

See the Ruins of a Roman Fort

Things to Do in Ambleside – Roman fort ruins

Credit: Andrew Bowden.

Ambleside wasn’t always the bustling tourist haven it is today; during the Roman occupation of Britain, it was a key site during the power struggles with the invading Picts and Scots. Originally built in timber in AD79, and then later rebuilt in stone, in its heyday this Roman garrison housed up to 500 soldiers.

Nowadays, however, the ruins make a peaceful picnicking spot. While the fort is no longer standing, you can still make out its overall layout, not to mention the outlines of its internal rooms and grain stores. A must-visit for history buffs.

Celebrate Rushbearing at St Mary’s Church

Things to Do in Ambleside – Rushbearing ceremony

Credit: Tim Green.

If you time your visit to Ambleside with the first Saturday of July, you’ll be fortunate enough to witness Ambleside’s Rushbearing festivities – an annual parade through the streets, which has its roots in the Middle Age practice of strewing rushes across the earthen floors of churches to make the air smell sweet. Today, Rushbearing is celebrated in just 11 parishes across the northwest, of which Ambleside’s St Mary’s Church is one.

Of course, even if your Lake District trip doesn’t coincide with Ambleside’s Rushbearing parade, St Mary’s Church still merits a visit. This Early Gothic construction is filled with interesting stained glass windows, not to mention a 26ft-long mural depicting a Rushbearing ceremony and a chapel devoted to the poet William Wordsworth.

Take a Stroll to Stock Ghyll Force

Things to Do in Ambleside – Stock Ghyll Force

Credit: Foshie.

When it comes to walks around Ambleside, one of the most popular is the half-hour stroll to Stock Ghyll Force – a magnificent 70ft waterfall that, in the days of old, was used to power 12 watermills. Today, the mills may be gone, but Stock Ghyll Force remains no less impressive.

While you’re there, pay a visit to the nearby Bridge House, a tiny two-room cottage that quite literally straddles the narrow Stock Beck. It dates back to the 17th century, when it was built as a way to avoid land tax. Today, it houses a National Trust shop, and remains a popular photographic subject.

As you can see, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do in Ambleside. And, best of all, all of these exciting activities are just a 10-minute drive from Skelwith Fold – meaning that you can focus on enjoying your Lake District holiday, and not on driving all day!

What are your favourite things to do in Ambleside? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

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