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Lakes, Mountains and Tourists...
Ambleside in General
Member Name: nykied
Ambleside in General
Advantages: Beautiful, even when it's raining
Disadvantages: Can be a little crowded, parking expensive
Ambleside - the best little town in the UK. Many may agree with me, many may not, but I don't ask to be agreed with all the time ;o)
My love of Ambleside comes from going to University there to study teaching. It was then that I got into mountain biking and walking and if that's what you're looking for in a town, well here it is! I arrived at Uni a not very fit person and left as someone who biked everywhere and walked up a lot of hills.
Ambleside is known as the heart of the Lake District, as it's the tourist hotspot of the area and within easy walking or driving distance from lots of places. Grasmere is just a short walk out of Ambleside, whilst Bowness and Windermere are a little further, about 5 miles away.
Keswick lies to the North of Ambleside, although it's reachable by car in about 30 minutes on a good day and it's a very picturesque town to walk around. Not so Kendal, which is pretty much a town filled with shops that you'd see in any shopping centre.
From Ambleside, there are a lot of walks that begin in the town, such as Loughrigg or Wansfell, both easy enough walks. Loughrigg is also a good one for mountain bikers, although the trick to 'doing' Loughrigg on a bike is not to put a foot down - a bit tricky when there's three gates to open as you go over it. It can be done though!
For the more adventurous walker/climber, Ambleside is a good base for the big mountains in the area, such as Helvellyn, although people who want to set off very early in the morning might want to stay further north.
Ambleside has a lot of the attractions that you'd expect from a small tourist town - lots of tourists (!), a big garden centre (Hayes, which is on the road between Windermere and Ambleside and well worth a visit), an independent cinema (which is part of a pizza place and you can even eat your pizza whilst watching a newly released film), the Bridge House, Wordsworth's various living places, and for when you're hungry, a couple of chip shops, a couple of Chinese restaurants/takeaways, lots and lots of cafes, and do visit the Apple Pie (near the bridge house as you're going north towards Grasmere) for THE most delicious pastries and cakes.
There's not a huge amount to do for children, unless they like outdoor shops, garden centres and walking and the various eating places are not massively children-friendly.
As for parking, I would recommend using the old University car park. It's on the right side of the road after the mini roundabout and just before the Bridge House. Not quite as expensive as the main car park.
Basically, I love the Lakes, I love 'my' mountains and I love Ambleside and I defy you not to love it too.
Summary: A place you should go to at least once in your life
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