Popular with visitors thanks to its location, charm and abundance of things to see and do, Ambleside is a Lake District gem with plenty to offer. As well as beautiful walks and natural scenery, there are also cafes to relax in; shops to visit; and cultural landmarks to enjoy – it’s no surprise the Lake District was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status! Elder Grove Bed & Breakfast is perfectly placed to explore the town and the surrounding areas – so here are a few of our top recommendations when it comes to planning a short break with our top 10 things to see and do in Ambleside.
Take A Cruise on Lake Windermere
Setting sail from Ambleside’s Waterhead Pier, which can be found just 15 minutes walk from Elder Grove B&B, Windermere Lake Cruises is a great way to see more of the beautiful Lake Windermere. There are a number of cruises to choose from: take the short 35 minute trip to Bownes to explore this pretty Lakeland town; or enjoy a cruise to the nearby attractions of Wray Castle and Brockhole, disembarking to enjoy all they have to offer.
World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere
Winner of Cumbria Tourism’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2010, all 23 of Beatrix Potter’s well-loved tales are brought to life at this interactive attraction. Families can see Peter Rabbit’s garden, explore Jemima Puddle-duck’s woodland glade and call at Mr McGregor’s greenhouse. Or take a walk through a virtual Lakeland complete with sounds, sights and even smells, and visit all the places that inspired Beatrix Potter’s stories and characters. Then enjoy lunch or afternoon tea in the Tea Room or outdoors on the garden terrace, before browsing the gifts in the Emporium.
Enjoy a Walk in the Lakes
The Lake District is known for its mountains and country paths, and Ambleside is perfectly located to enjoy a walk through some of the national park’s most stunning natural landscapes. A number of beautiful routes await visitors to Ambleside, but one of our favourites is the relatively gentle walk along Loughrigg Fell. Perfect for a half day trip, this route takes in a number of beautiful sights including Loughrigg Terrace, with its views out over Grasmere; and Rydal Caves, once an active man made quarry.
For anyone looking for more of a challenge (and a higher summit), the walk up Wansfell Pike is a brilliant choice. Upon reaching its peak, you’re rewarded with stunning views over Ambleside and the surrounding countryside.
Eat & Drink
From cosy country pubs to fine dining restaurants, Ambleside is bursting with great places to eat and drink. Cafes like Kysty, the Copper Pot, or the vegetarian Rattle Ghyll Cafe are great options for lunch, or coffee and cake, while Ambleside’s many pubs make the perfect setting for a hearty meal or a drink after a day spent on the fells. There’s lots to choose from, with popular choices including The Unicorn Inn, The Golden Rule and the Ambleside Tavern.
When it comes to restaurants, Ambleside has plenty. Zeffirelis and Fellinis are good for casual vegetarian dining; the Fulling Mill bar and bistro offers fresh, quality dishes in a converted mill set over four floors; Dodds is a cosy eatery with a Mediterranean inspired menu (be aware that they don’t take reservations). If you’re looking for something extra special, The Old Stamp House serves Cumbrian inspired dishes using local and foraged ingredients; meanwhile, Lake Road Kitchen is an intimate fine dining restaurant with a focus on nordic flavours.
Visit Bridge House
Originally built during the 17th century, the quirky and picturesque Bridge House stands over Stock Beck, which runs across the top of Ambleside. Its original purpose was to connect both sides of the beck, however over the years it has been used for a number of purposes including as a tea room, a cobblers and (somewhat miraculously given its small size) as home to a family of 8! Today, Bridge House is owned by the National Trust and has become a popular – and much photographed – Ambleside landmark. It’s free to visit and easy to access, located in the heart of the town and surrounded by cafes and shops.
Catch a movie at Zeffirellis (and enjoy some jazz)
Great for rainy evenings (which we are often blessed with here in the Lake District!), why not visit Ambleside’s very own cinema? Zeffirelis is something of a local institution, with a number of screens showing the latest releases and a good vegetarian restaurant serving Italian cuisine, which is great for pre- or post-movie dining. There’s also a jazz bar which hosts regular concerts – keep an eye on their website for the latest program of events.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more artistic, nearby Fellinis falls under the same ownership and focuses on arthouse movies, with its own restaurant on the ground floor serving creative and seasonal vegetarian dishes.
Looking to indulge in a little retail therapy? Take a relaxing walk through Ambleside, dipping in and out of its many charming shops along the way. Independent businesses share street space with well known brands, offering something for all tastes. Wander through the town’s bustling streets and pick up a few traditional Lakeland treats to take home to friends and family, or as souvenirs of your trip for yourself.
Visit The Armitt Museum
Founded in the early 1900s, The Armitt is a museum, library and gallery located a stone’s throw from the centre of Ambleside. Dedicated to the preservation of the Lake District’s cultural heritage, The Armitt is a hidden gem which holds some truly fascinating collections. Visit the “Beatrix Potter, Image and Reality” exhibition to discover original botanical watercolours by the iconic ‘Peter Rabbit’ author; and discover the work of Kurt Schwitters, a German artist who emigrated to the UK during the second World War.
Travel by Mountain Goat
Established in 1972, Mountain Goat has been offering tours and transportation to Lake District locals and visitors for over forty years. Today, the company – which got its name after a customer commented that its buses climbed the hills of the Lake District like a Mountain Goat – runs small guided tours across the National Park. Half and full day itineraries are available, led by knowledgeable local guides who really know their stuff about the Lake District! A number of Mountain Goat tours begin in Ambleside: discover Beatrix Potter’s Lake District on the “Beatrix Potter’s Favourite Countryside” tour, or take in some of the area’s prettiest sights on a tour of “The Heart of the Lakes”, to name just a few.
Visit Nearby Towns & Villages
With good public transport links across the Lakes, as well as great walking paths and cycle routes, Ambleside boasts brilliant proximity to a number of other pretty Lake District towns and villages. An easy 15 minute drive north lies Grasmere, home to Grasmere Gingerbread as well as an array of shops, cafes and scenic walks. To the south, the popular towns of Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere can be reached by car, foot, boat or bike and offer plenty to see and do. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Windermere, stopping for coffee at Homeground Coffee + Kitchen, before heading down to Bowness for lakeside views and cultural attractions such as the World of Beatrix Potter, Blackwell Arts & Crafts House or Windermere Jetty.