Things to do nearby Colwith (Neaum Crag)
Blessed with beautiful scenery, Ambleside is a bustling South Lakeland village situated at the northern end of Lake Windermere. Though largely Victorian, there has been a settlement here since Roman times when the fort of Galava was built to house 500 soldiers. Their aim was to defend the south Lakeland fells from invasion and to guard the vital trade route to Ravenglass via Hardknott Pass. The remains of the fort were excavated between 1914 and 1920 and can be found next to Borrans Park at Waterhead on the northern end of Windermere.
From the centre of Ambleside take a short walk uphill to view the spectacular Stock Ghyll Force, a 70-foot waterfall nestled in a wooded glade. Stock Ghyll Force once drove twelve watermills producing fabrics, paper and corn. This tributary of the River Rothay meanders into the centre of Ambleside via a series of waterfalls, eventually passing under the famous Bridge House, a popular subject for many artists, including J. M. W. Turner. Today, Bridge House has become an icon of Ambleside, so why not take a trip to the curious 17th century relic for a few photographs? It is, after all, one of the most photographed buildings in the Lake District!
Within the village you’ll find a wide selection of pubs and cafés. There’s a great choice of restaurants, too: Italian, Thai, Indian, vegetarian, and more! Try Zeffirellis and its sister restaurant, Fellini's, for tasty vegetarian Italian food and take in a film at one of their cinemas or chill with some live music in their jazz bar. If you’re looking for good beer, head to Ambleside’s hidden gem, the Golden Rule, off the main street. Beautifully unchanged in decades, it’s a favourite of locals, tourists and walkers alike. If you fancy something very special, two Michelin starred restaurants are on the doorstep; The Samling and Forest Side. Both boast internationally renowned cuisine and glorious settings.
The area around Ambleside has a vibrant cultural scene with several museums, galleries and studios. The Armitt Library and Museum is a hub of local history and many of Beatrix Potter's natural history watercolours are displayed here. Why not pay a visit to Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum in nearby Grasmere? Here you can explore the rich literary heritage of this special part of the world. Visitors can look further into the region's past at one of the many historical houses including Wray Castle, a fairy tale of a place overlooking Windermere, and Brantwood, the Coniston home of Victorian polymath John Ruskin.
Low Wood Watersports Centre, with its large lake frontage set against an inspiring mountain backdrop, is a great location for water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, kayaking, canoeing or boat hire.
Pitch and putt, crazy golf, tennis and French boules are amongst some of the activities at White Platts Recreation Ground. There’s also an infants play area. Take a picnic to Grizedale Forest for more fun, hunting out the 40 sculptures that are scattered throughout the forest, many of them hidden amongst the trees. Or for a real adventure there’s an exciting Go Ape! and a 'Junior Tarzans' course set in the trees!
If you prefer hiking, Loughrigg Fell is a pleasant walk overlooking Grasmere and Rydal Water. There are several gentle paths leading to beautiful viewpoints and picnic locations, making it perfect for a day out. Make sure you include a visit to the cave with the jagged open mouth! For those of you wanting a more strenuous outing, the Fairfield Horseshoe is a stunning mountain walk featuring eight different mountain tops (great for Wainwright bagging). The route offers breath-taking panoramic views of many of Cumbria's lakes and mighty peaks. It makes a wonderful summer day out and a great excuse for a post walk pint of local real ale in one of Ambleside's fantastic pubs. Before setting off, make sure you have all the necessary equipment from one of the village’s many outdoor gear shops!
The area offers a fabulous array of bridleways for mountain bikers and a range of quiet roads for the road cyclists among you. Of course the Hardknott, Wrynose and Kirkstone passes make an appearance in many classic Lake District cycling events and they make for excellent training opportunities! Alternatively, for a rather more sedate pedal, why not cycle around the lake and catch a launch steamer back?
Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and is surrounded by mountain peaks and pretty Lakeland villages. Wander down to Waterhead Pier, opened in 1845 and once popular with the Victorians. The bay is now a cluster of gift shops and café where you can while away an hour or two. Steamers and launches sail daily from here throughout the year. The main cruise is a three-hour sail between Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside. Hop off the boat to sample the delights of the steam railway and aquarium at Lakeside or the World of Beatrix Potter attraction at Bowness. Float across Windermere in the evening and watch the sun setting behind the mountains whilst listening to cool jazz on an evening buffet cruise.
The two small lakes of Rydal Water and Grasmere are just a 15-minute drive from Ambleside and boast beautiful surrounding scenery and varied walks. Both villages are famous as being home to William Wordsworth, who is buried in the church at Grasmere with his family. Both of his homes, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount and Gardens are now museums.
Grasmere is also famous for it’s delicious Grasmere Gingerbread - you can buy some of the beloved treat, made to the original Victorian recipe and served up by staff in traditional dress, in a tiny little shop in the centre of the village.