Ambleside is a small market town in the county of Cumbria, standing in a sheltered location at the head of lake Windermere, surrounded by beautiful wooded hills and fells. The town's historic centre, built of brown or grey-greenish stone, is now an important conservation area.
Waterhead Pier, Lake Windermere
The town is blessed with a moderate temperature and comparatively low rainfall for the lakes. The centre has many good facilities, shops, hotels, guest houses and even a small cinema. The local architecture is mainly Victorian with some 17th century remnants at its core. The streets become extremely busy in spring and summer as tourists flock to enjoy the beautiful lakeland scenery, which still inspires painters and poets to this day.
Ambleside has close associations with the writer and poet William Wordsworth who lived at nearby Grasmere, and writer Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) who lived at The Knoll, until she passed away in 1876. Wordsworth used to regularly walk to Ambleside from Grasmere and Keats and the Coleridges are among many other authors who visited or stayed in the area.
The former parish church with a group of attractive old houses huddled around it is now used as a parish hall. The present parish church of St Mary the Virgin, to the West, was erected in 1854 to the design of Sir Gilbert Scott. It has a 180ft spire, which is very unusual for the area.
An ancient Rush Bearing Ceremony is held on the first Saturday in July, when local children carry rushes and flowers through the town. A tradition that dates back to the medieval period when rushes were used as flooring in the church.
The town's most famous landmark is a small rough stone house, precariously perched on a tiny bridge over Stock Ghyll. Named 'Bridge House', it was originally built as a summer house for Ambleside House and is now an information centre for the National Trust - one of the smallest properties owned by them.
The Armitt Museum and Library, on Rydal Rd, provides information about the Lake District's distinctive heritage and the social history of its people over the past 5,000 years.
At Borrans Park, at the head of the lake where the River Brathay enters Windermere, stands the remains of the 2nd century Roman fort of Galava; built to guard the Roman road from Ravenglass on the west coast. Excavations here have revealed many interesting Roman artifacts that are now on display in the museum.
Just below the town, at Waterhead, is one of the great-lakes boating centres, popular with anglers, pleasure boaters and watersport enthusiasts. Regular scenic boat cruises depart from Waterhead during the spring and summer months.
With its excellent road connections Ambleside provides an ideal gateway for touring, walking and climbing in the Lake District. The town is also a good starting point for ascents of Wansfell Pike (1,587ft) to the east, and Loughrigg Fell (1,101ft) to the west. Other lakes within walking distance include Elterwater, Rydalwater and Grasmere.
Stock Ghyll Force waterfall is also worth a visit located behind the Salutation Hotel, a mile to the east of the town centre. The Stock Ghyll, a tributary of River Rothay, once served several mills in the town, including the Old Mill on North Road, which has a restored waterwheel.
Just south of Ambleside is the enchanting woodland garden of Stagshaw (open to public), which offers far reaching views over Windermere.
The home of the children's author Beatrix Potter is also a popular nearby attraction. This charming country cottage, called Hill Top, is located behind a pub at Near Sawrey, a few miles to the south of the town. It has been preserved by the National Trust just as Beatrix left it.