9 Things To Do On a Rainy Day in Ambleside
While we all hope for sunshine in the Lake District, the reality is that sometimes, it rains. Fortunately, the lakes is stunning no matter the weather (without the rain, we wouldn’t have the abundance of beautiful Lakes we do!) – and there is still plenty to do in Ambleside even when the heavens open. Here are ten of our favourite wet weather activities in the area.
Founded in the early 1900s by Mary Louisa Armitt, the Armitt Museum & Library is a brilliant place to learn about the area’s artistic and cultural heritage. Exhibitions focus on the stories brought out through the varied and quirky collections. Beatrix Potter features strongly with her stunning botanical watercolours on display, and the museum holds objects representing Ambleside, such as archaeology from the Roman Fort, and artworks by Kurt Schwitters – a German artist who settled in Ambleside after being forced from Germany during the Nazi regime. This is a great place to visit on both rainy and dry days!
2. Relax in Cosy Cafes and Country Pubs
When the rain begins to pour, there’s nothing better than hiding away in a cosy cafe with a cup of coffee and slice of cake. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from in Ambleside – all of which make for the perfect escape when the heavens open! The Apple Pie Cafe, Mr H’s, Freshers Cafe and The Rattle Ghyll Cafe are just a few favourites when it comes to daytime eateries; in the evening, head to one of Ambleside’s local pubs and warm up with a hearty meal while the rain falls outside.
The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness is a family friendly attraction which brings to life the tales told by Beatrix Potter in her classic collection of little books. A self guided tour offers a truly immersive experience, as visitors learn about Beatrix Potter and her works. The experience kicks off with a short film, before moving through various stunning exhibits which bring you into the world of Potter’s famous characters – such as Jemima Puddleduck’s Woodland Glade and Mrs Tiggywinkle’s kitchen. Events are held throughout the year, including the popular musical adventure ‘Where is Peter Rabbit’; and there’s a shop and cafe to enjoy at the end of the tour.
Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Bowness, and easily reachable from Ambleside, this Grade I listed building overlooking Lake Windermere was created in the early 20th century by architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott. Visitors are welcome to discover this beautifully designed historic house and learn more about its former residents, Manchester brewer Sir Edward Holt and his family. There are also talks and augmented reality displays, allowing for a deeper insight into life in the early 1900s. Blackwell is filled with works by Arts & Crafts designers of the late Victorian era, which are on display as part of the house for visitors to admire; there are also temporary exhibitions and events, as well as tea room located in the old kitchen and scullery.
When wet weather dampens your thirst for outdoor activities, worry not! Ambleside has its very own climbing wall which makes for a great indoor alternative. Routes cater to a range of levels, with taster sessions available for beginners and more challenging routes for experienced climbers. There’s a bouldering area as well as a tall roped wall, and friendly staff are on hand to help. Safety equipment is provided and shoes are available to hire; there’s also a cafe overlooking the wall and the Lakeland fells.
Ambleside benefits from not one, but three, brilliant cinemas with two boasting adjoining restaurants – meaning you can enjoy a meal and a movie without ever needing to step outside! Zeffirelis and Fellinis are both located in the centre of town and fall under the same ownership: Zeffirelis shows largely mainstream releases, while Fellinis focuses on arthouse movies and live streamings of opera and ballet performances. With matinée and evening showings to choose from, a trip to one of Ambleside’s cinemas makes for a great rainy day activity.
When the weather is wet, but you still want to get out and explore the Lakes, taking a Mountain Goat tour is the perfect solution! See the Lakes from the comfort of a small group tour bus, accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide. A number of tours depart from Ambleside, including the ‘Ten Lakes Spectacular’, which takes in some of the Lake District’s most spectacular natural landscapes; and ‘Beatrix Potter’s Favourite Countryside’, which includes a stop at Hill Top House and Hawkshead village. Don’t forget to pack a raincoat!
Once home to William Wordsworth, who wrote some of his best known poetry while living there, Dove Cottage now stands as a tribute to the iconic poet. Discover how Wordsworth spent his days on a guided tour of the cottage, admiring the many personal possessions which still have their place here. Next to the cottage, the Wordsworth Museum allows an even deeper insight into the life of William Wordsworth, with original journals, letters and manuscripts on display alongside interactive exhibits.
Across Lake Windermere, accessible via car or – even better – by boat, stands the impressive Wray Castle. Owned by the National Trust since 1929, the castle’s Gothic Revival architecture and lake front position make it a beautiful place to visit on a rainy (or dry!) day. The castle was originally built as an exceptionally grand country home in the 1840s; it has only recently opened up to the general public, with guided tours taking visitors on a journey through its history.