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Great central location for the Lakes
Ambleside in General
Member Name: Red51
Ambleside in General
Date: 14/09/11, updated on 19/04/12 (132 review reads)
Advantages: Location, everything in walking distance from centre, good choice of food and watering holes
I love the Lake District and we try to get up there every year & stay in a different town or village each time. We have family in Kendal therefore we can visit the family & have a holiday in one go.
Last year we decided to try Ambleside. We normally stay in quieter villages, but as we had friends coming this time we decided to stay in a busier town with a choice of drinking holes.
~ Location ~
Ambleside is a town located just into the Lake District national park on the top tip of Lake Windermere, a few miles from Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere. The main road (A591) runs through the towns' one way system from Kendal up to Keswick (via Grasmere). This is one of the "better" roads that run through the Lake District, as if you have travelled there before you will understand that the roads can be VERY winding and takes a lot longer to travel short distances (I am from the Fens and we are not used to hills!).
~ Accommodation ~
As Ambleside is quite a touristy town, there are a huge number of options for accommodation. There are hundreds of holiday cottage lets to choose from ranging in price and size - we stayed in a 3 bed house in the centre of the town for approx £500 per week in August.
There are also hotels - Best Western Salutation Hotel, Queens Hotel, Churchill Hotel to name a few. I cannot comment on the hotels having not stayed in them.
There are also numerous bed & breakfasts in Ambleside and campsites just outside. There is also a Youth Hostel in Waterhead.
~ Food ~
There are lots of food options in Ambleside. As we had a self catering cottage we did cook a lot ourselves & there are two main food shops a Co-op and Spar in the centre - a couple of doors from each other. These are both quite small, however, there is a Booths supermarket in Windermere, just next to the train station, which is a few miles away, or a big Asda in Oxenholme, Kendal about 15 miles away.
There are also butchers, bakers and cake shops, all within walking distance in the town centre.
We tried a couple of takeaways while we were there - there is a great fish and chip shop in the centre (the name escapes me) and a Chinese just down the hill from the centre called The Lucky Dragon. There is also another Chinese - China Cottage but it was closed when we went to get food so didn't taste them.
We went to the Indian restaurant which was lovely on our anniversary, the food was great the service was great, we couldn't fault it! It was called Tagore Indian restaurant.
We also went to the Wateredge Inn (a bit of a walk from the centre) for a few snacks while drinking, it was lovely food - we only had a cheese platter between the 4 of us, but it was extremely expensive there, however, you probably have to pay for the location, which was right on the lake. A lovely place for a quiet drink.
There are also Thai, Italian Pizzeria, and numerous pubs serving food.
~ Days out ~
There are hundreds of things to do in the Lake District, especially if you like walking, however, I'm only going to speak about thing close to Ambleside (within 5 mins drive) as I could be here all day!
In Ambleside, if you want to buy hiking gear then this is the place for you. There whole centre is full of hiking shops selling everything you could want for outward bounds activities.
There is a crazy golf course and park for the kiddies (or big kids!).
The main river which goes through the town has a pretty waterfall walk (free) which takes you through a wooded area to a pretty fall. However, it can be steep and difficult in places (we went when it was wet and the path got very muddy), and make sure you keep a close eye on inquisitive kids as there are some nasty drops down the side of the paths, there are some barriers but not in all places.
For the more adventurous there are quite a few walks starting in Ambleside, the ones we did -
Ambleside to Troutbeck, over Wansfell pike (489m), very pretty walk to a remote village (which we stayed in the previous year), over a steep pike which is quite strenuous in places, but rewarded with brilliant views over Lake Windermere. This is quite a popular walk, so in the height of the season, don't expect to be on your own walking.
Ambleside to Rydal via Lily Tarn, Todd Crag, then Rydal cave, then back the easy way along the main road. This is quite a strenuous walk in parts & I would definitely make sure you take an OS map, compass & someone who can read maps! This is a less trodden walk, therefore the paths are not always easily seen. Not really for small children, you need to be pretty fit to get over some places. This takes in a number of locations
- Lily Tarn is so called as this is a small pond at the top of a fell with lily's growing. This is a magical place but was very difficult to find. We came across a number of people up there trying to look for the Tarn, until we gave up & decided to go on, and mistakenly almost walked into it! It is a small tarn/pond which is bigger at different times of the year, surrounded by moss covered mounds, with lily pads growing.
- Todd Crag is a peak which looks down on Windermere to the south, Ambleside to the East and Rydal Water and Grasmere to the north
- Rydal cave - is an old quarry cave which pictures taken from the inside looks like you are looking out of a monsters mouth, however, they have now put barriers up as a number of rocks have fallen from the roof, so we were pretty disappointed we couldn't get in.
- Rydal itself is a pretty small lake, which is quieter than the more touristy Windermere / Coniston. It is famous for Rydal Mount, one of Wordsworths house which is open to visitors. You can also walk along the old "coffin road" to Dove Cottage (his other house open to visitors) but by the time we had got there we were too tired to go any further.
- There is a tea room at Rydal Hall, to stop for some lunch and then back via the shorter route down the main road back to Ambleside.
A short drive from Ambleside is Windermere the town and Bowness-on-Windermere the lake destination, where you can hire boats or take the lake cruises down Windermere.
From either Bowness-on-Windermere or Waterhead (short walk south of Ambelside) you can get the lake cruise down to Lakeside on the southern tip of the lake, where there is an aquarium, Haverthwaite steam railway and Lakeland Motor Museum. Costs from Waterhead (if you go from Bowness it's cheaper) taken from www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk:
Boat & Train - Adult £20.25, Child (5-15 yrs) £10.15, Family (2 adults, 3 children) £55.00
Boat & Aquarium - Adult £23.70, Child £12.10, Family £66.80
Boat & Motor Museum - Adult £20.25, Child £11.15, Family £55.90
Also, if you have a strong stomach for hair raising roads, just north of Ambleside there is Kirkstone Pass, you leave Ambleside up "the struggle" aptly named, do not attempt this if you are not a confident driver or are worried about your brakes! The road joins the A592, which is by no means a main road to the top (1,489 feet!) with an Inn on the top (please ensure the driver does not drink!) and a car park with a number of walking routes. You can carry on up the road to Ulswater, or go back down. If you don't fancy going back down "the struggle" you can carry on the A592 past Troutbeck and it brings you out at Windermere town. It is not a long drive in distance but its slow going, with amazing views along the route. There are plenty of passing places along the road, and be careful as there are quite often stray sheep dotting the road.
~ Nights out ~
There are a lot of pubs/bars around the town, some are quite small and cosy and there are some more modern sports bars. There are no "night clubs", but a few of the pubs had live music a couple of night in the summer. Our route was across Rydal Road, then down Lake Road, you will come across - The Priest Hole, Churchills (sports bar), Royal Oak, White Lion, then up North Road to The Unicorn & Golden Rule (just next to our cottage).
There is also a small cinema in the town centre (above the Italian Pizzeria).
~ Would I recommend ~
Yes. As Ambleside is quite a busy little town, its popular with tourists due to its central location and numerous walking shops. If you are looking for a quite peaceful holiday I would recommend staying on the outskirts of Ambleside as the centre can get quite busy. Also the main road does go through the town, even though a one way system does try to move the traffic more freely (which is very confusing when you first get there!). But for location you cannot fault it!
Summary: Great central location to explore the lakes