England’s longest lake, Windermere, continues to be a popular destination for tourists visiting Cumbria. Whether sailing on the lake or climbing the fells, the splendour of the area is unsurpassed.
To the north of Windermere is some of the best fell walking in the U.K. including the Langdale Pikes in the awesome Langdale Valley. For something less strenuous, amble around the lanes of the village of Grasmere - famed for being the home to the poet William Wordsworth. An excellent view over the village, and of the ‘mere’ of the same name, can be achieved from Brackenfell just to the east of the village.
However, there is so much more to enjoy. Here is our list of the top places to visit in Ambleside and the surrounding area:
Ambleside Climbing Wall: An indoor climbing venue, suitable for all ages in the heart of The Lake District. Offering taster sessions, private lessons and kids clubs throughout the week, and open late for experienced climbers. Its sister company also offers a wide range of outdoor activities from kayaking and rock climbing, to gorge scrambling and hiking.
Hill Top: Located in England's historic Lake District, this working farm owned by Beatrix Potter was the setting for her delightful and popular series of animal tales. Now owned by the National Trust, it is full of her favourite things and feels as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a 'tale'.
The lovely cottage garden is a haphazard mix of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Make your way up the garden path to the front door and see for yourself why Beatrix loved this place. Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, she used Hill Top itself and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her subsequent books.
Hill Top is a small house and a timed-ticket system is in operation to avoid overcrowding and to protect the interior. Hill Top can be very busy and visitors may sometimes have to wait to enter the house.
Jenkin Crag: A short and energetic walk will take you to this beautiful viewpoint over Lake Windermere.
Rock Shop: Not just a shop but an experience the whole family will enjoy - and is especially good when the weather is poor. There is a dino den, gem pit and bead bar which will keep little ones amused for the afternoon.
Stock Ghyll Force: A short walk from the centre of Ambleside, behind the Salutation Hotel, leads to Stock Ghyll Force, a spectacular 70 foot waterfall which may be viewed safely from a railed viewpoint. In spring the area under the trees is a carpet of daffodils.
Stock Ghyll, a tributary of the River Rothay, tumbles down through a series of waterfalls to the centre of Ambleside, passing under the famous Bridge House.
White Platts Recreation Area: Found in the centre of Ambleside, White Platt's Recreation Ground is an extensive recreation area in the town centre run by Lakes Parish Council - and it has the best mini golf in the Lakes.
There is a 9 hole mini golf course with a 90-metre hole, nine-hole putting green and nine-hole crazy golf course. For the more energetic person there are three full size tennis courts for you to play on.
For a more gentle life there is a large smart bowling green and an infant play area with a slide, climbing frame and lots of benches so you can sit and relax as the day passes by.A
ll the equipment can be hired from the ticket office along with hot and cold drinks and ice creams. They are open daily from 10am with the last ticket sold an hour before closing at 7pm (weather permitting) in peak times.
Rufty Tuftys: Rufty Tuftys is a large, indoor play centre, offering adventure, exercise, exploration and excitement for children in a clean, safe, stimulating environment right in the heart of the Lake District. There is free parking.
Skelwith Force: This is one of the smaller Lake District waterfalls and one of the easiest to reach. It is relatively unknown and lightly visited but definitely worth it. It can easily be combined with the popular level walk from Skelwith to Elter Water. This is a lovely walk on level ground, with the beauty of the Langdale pikes ahead of you.
Galava Roman Fort: The well-marked remains of a 2nd-century fort with large granaries, probably built under Hadrian's rule to guard the Roman road from Brougham to Ravenglass and act as a supply base.
Covering three acres, the fort was probably built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (AD 117–38). However, excavations have suggested the presence, partly beneath the stone buildings, of an earlier fort with a turf wall and timber buildings, constructed possibly in the 90s AD, when Roman control of the Lake District was being consolidated.
Wray Castle: Wray Castle is a Victorian neo-gothic building at Claife. The house and grounds have belonged to the National Trust since 1929, but the house has only recently opened to the public on a regular basis. The grounds, which include part of the shoreline of Windermere, are open all year round and are renowned for their selection of specimen trees - Wellingtonia, redwood, Ginkgo biloba, weeping lime and varieties of beech.
Bridge House: This much photographed tiny house on a bridge over Stock Beck was built as an apple store by the Braithwaites of Ambleside Hall in 1723. The Hall (now demolished) had gardens sloping down to the beck.
A bridge was built to gain access to the orchard on the other side, and the ‘house’ added for architectural interest and storage. It is one of the few buildings in Cumbria to have retained its original wrestler slates on the roof ridge.
After the estate was sold, Bridge House was variously used as a carpentry workshop, cobblers shop and tearoom, but it gradually fell into disrepair. In 1926 local subscribers bought Bridge House for £450 and handed it over to the National Trust, which still owns the property today.
Armitt Ambleside Musesum: The unique Armitt Museum and Library situated in the heart of the English Lake District was founded a hundred years ago to celebrate the cultural heritage of this iconic corner of England.
Holding a diverse collection of art, photographs, documents, objects and oral histories, it has long been associated with many radical thinkers of the 19th and earlier 20th centuries from the political economist and social reformer Harriet Martineau to John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, and the modernist German artist Kurt Schwitters.
The Armitt Library founded in 1912 houses a wealth of books on the local area and its history including one of the best collections of guidebooks to the Lakes dating from the eighteenth century onwards.