Visit Ambleside and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Ambleside, Cumbria, is, like Keswick, a principal tourist centre in Lake-land, particularly for the more southerly areas. The town lies on the main north and south through route, the A591, close to Windermere. Being protected by mountain groups from north and east winds, and open to warmer air from the South. Ambleside claims an equable temperature and, for the Lakes, a comparatively low rainfall, probably due to the fact that the nearest peaks to the South West, the Coniston fells, are about 3 miles away. The town has many hotels and guest-houses, especially in the newer part, West of the division made by the main road. Shops offer a variety of holiday equipment, gifts and souvenirs. Ruskin had close associations with the Lakes, especially Coniston.
In Borrans Park and owned by the National Trust, where the River Brathay enters Windermere, are remains of the Roman fort of Galava, probably built between the 2nd and 4th centuries, and of an earlier one believed to be of about A.D. 79 during Agricola's campaign. The Roman road from Ravenglass on the west coast, via Hard-Knott, passed near Borrans Field and then over the ridge of High Street mountain range to Brougham.
The library was endowed by Miss Mary Louisa Armitt, who left her books to it, and opened in 1912. It received the balance of funds of the old Ambleside Book Society (founded in 1828) to which Wordsworth belonged. There are now over 6,000 books and pamphlets in the library, many from donors, of literary, scientific and antiquarian value.
The former parish church, now used as a parish hall, is of a typically primitive Lakeland type. Attractive old houses are perched around it on the hillside. The present parish church, St Mary the Virgin, on the West, was erected in 1854 to the design of Sir Gilbert Scott. He gave it a steeple— unusual in the Lakes — a handsome feature to be seen across the old roofs of the houses. There is a fine marble reredos. Memorial windows to had close associations with the Lakes, especially Coniston.
Wordsworth and his family are in the Wordsworth Chapel. The Bible on the lectern was given by Mrs Wordsworth. On the west wall a mural (1944) by Gordon Ransom depicts the ancient rush-bearing ceremony. The bearings are now crosses and designs in flowers and rushes, carried by children in a procession to St Mary's. Owen Lloyd, a friend of Hartley Coleridge who was the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, composed the rush-bearing hymn which is sung in the Market Place. This ceremony, which has continued for centuries, is believed to derive from the annual renewal of rushes on the church floor in the Middle Ages, or to be a mixture of something like the Roman floralia and of a thanksgiving and merry-making to mark the safe gathering of the hay. At Grasmere there is a similar ceremony, and both have been recorded by Wordsworth.
The tiny Bridge House is a curiosity, only a few yards long, which in the 18th century was probably a summer-house for Ambleside Hall. There are two rooms, and the house is now an information centre for the National Trust which bought it by subscription in 1928. The story is told that a Scotsman built this rough stone structure on its arch over the little river so that he could avoid paying ground rent!
Ambleside has many literary associations. The Wordsworths lived at nearby Grasmere and Rydal, and besides Ruskin and the Coleridges, authors who visited or stayed in the area include Keats, Southey, De Quincey, and Mrs Humphrey Ward. Harriet Martineau, who died in Ambleside in 1876, lived at the Knoll, which is outside the town on the Keswick road. She was visited there by Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot. Along the River Rothay is Fox Howe, the summer residence of Dr Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby School and father of Matthew Arnold. Nearby are the much photographed stepping stones across the river. Loughrigg Holme was the house of Wordsworth's daughter, Dora.
The town has sporting facilities, and the Ambleside Sports and the internationally famous sheepdog trials are held in Rydal Park. At Waterhead on the North of Windermere is one of the great boating centres of Lakeland. Other lakes within walking distance are Elterwater, Rydal Water, and Grasmere. There is a variety of routes to explore on foot. Stock Ghyll is in the park, to the East Signs from Water-head lead to Jenkin's Crag with excellent views of Windermere and the mountains. Sweden Bridge and Skelwith Force are other walks, as are Nab Scar and Fairfield (2,863 ft), both on the North. Besides the north and south roads for Keswick and Windermere Town, other motoring routes are to the North East for Ullswater (the direct route from Ambleside to the Kirkstone Pass is not advised for towing caravans), or West for the Langdale Pikes, Wrynose Pass, or Coniston.
Nearby towns: Borrowdale, Bowness-on-Windermere, Duddon Valley, Eskdale, Keswick, Langdale, Ullswater, Wasdale, Windermere
Nearby villages: Bowland Bridge, Brigsteer, Burneside, Buttermere, Coniston, Elterwater, Glenridding, Grasmere, Grizedale, Hawkshead, High Nibthwaite, High Wray, High Yewdale, Kendal, Kentmere, Mardale, Natland, Newlands, Oxenholme, Patterdale, Ravenglass, Rosgill, Rosthwaite, Rusland, Rydal, Seathwaite, Selside, Torver, Underbarrow, Wythburn
Have you decided to visit Ambleside or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Ambleside bed and breakfast (a Ambleside B&B or Ambleside b and b)
- a Ambleside guesthouse
- a Ambleside hotel (or motel)
- a Ambleside self-catering establishment, or
- other Ambleside accommodation