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In the heart of the Lake District, Ambleside is a popular town centre that offers much to do all year long. Filled with nature and history, Ambleside is one of the most popular destinations in the Lake District. 

Packed with a variety of attractions easily accessible from Lake Road, Ambleside is the perfect place to explore for anybody staying in our hotel rooms at Craig Manor Hotel.  Enjoy a relaxing walk in the countryside or do some shopping during your holiday or incredible weekend getaway.

16 of the best things to do in Ambleside

1. Borrans Park

With unparalleled views of Lake Windermere, Borrans Park is a wide-open green space surrounded by ancient woodland, including the remnants of a Roman road that leads to the ancient Ambleside Roman Fort. Borrans Park makes for a lovely afternoon stop and is perfect for picnicking, a walk with your dog, a family day of fun, or simply to gaze at Windermere lake.

Borrans Park is easily accessible from Lake Road and can be reached by the A591 or just a short walk from Ambleside town centre.

2. Ambleside Roman Fort

Dating to the 2nd century, the remains of Ambleside Roman Fort are well-marked and easy to find. The site is National Trust owned and excavations began in the early 20th century. Today, you can see remnants of the fort’s south gate, main gate, headquarters building, the commanding officer’s house, and the granaries.

This Roman Fort is a great choice for an afternoon picnic on your way to the lake or back to Ambleside.

3. The Bridge House

Harriet Martineau wrote that the Bridge House across the Stock Beck was an “odd little grey dwelling … which every artist sketches as he passes by.”

Part of the National Trust, the Bridge House is an icon of Ambleside. The Braithwaite family built this 17th-century two-room structure atop the Stock Beck river to avoid being taxed. After leaving the family’s hands, the Bridge House continued to play a role in Ambleside history.

4. Stagshaw Garden

On the eastern shore of Windermere, discover the 8-acres of Stagshaw Garden made up of woodlands, flowers, waterfalls, and tranquillity that was created in the middle of the last century by an agent of the National Trust, who maintains the gardens today.

The gardens offer impressive views of Windermere lake. Though located close to the road and town, Stagshaw Garden is a sanctuary of nature and peace and quiet.

5. Jenkin Crag

Sitting between Stagshaw Garden and the car park at Waterhead Pier is Jenkin Crag, which can be reached from either place. An ancient forest with centuries of natural history on display, such as England’s tallest grand fir and the oldest tree in Ambleside, along the Champion Tree Trail.

Offering one of the most impressive vantage points to see the beauty of the Lake District, Jenkin Crag is located between Bowness and the northern edge of Windermere lake. It is best visited in the summer months to see the most foliage and wildlife on display.

6. Armitt Museum and Library

Founded in memory of naturalist and historian Mary Armitt, the Armitt Museum and Library is one of many local art galleries and is a collection of the history of Ambleside. Armitt’s current collection includes watercolours, photography, a collection of rare books, and special exhibitions dedicated to Beatrix Potter, Kurt Schwitters, and Charlotte Mason.

The Armitt is also home to the first-ever rock climbing club in the Lake District.

7. Rydal Mount

The historic home of William Wordsworth, Rydal Mount is still the family home of the Wordsworth family. Today, the Wordsworth family operates a museum in honour of their ancestor in a way that makes all visitors feel as if William Wordsworth himself has personally invited them in.

Not only a poet but an avid gardener, Wordsworth’s 5-acre garden remains as he left it, as does the house itself, including the poet’s attic study, where much of his acclaimed work was penned.

Rydal Mount is open to visitors most of the year and offers afternoon tea in the historic tearoom, incredible panoramas of the Lake District, and even a reading of William Wordsworth by a Wordsworth. However, the home does close in mid-afternoon, so schedule your day accordingly.

8. Beatrix Potter Gallery

In honour of one of the most famous residents of Cumbria, the Beatrix Potter Gallery is housed in a 17th-century building in nearby Hawkshead. Upon her death in 1943, she bequeathed the 4000-acres of her beloved Lake District home to the National Trust.

Today, the National Trust operates a gallery in memory of Beatrix Potter that highlights not only her beloved children’s literature, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also the life of Miss Potter as a farmer and conservationist.

The Beatrix Potter Gallery operates most of the year, so check the National Trust website for schedules.

9. Windermere Lake

The namesake of the Lake District and the largest natural lake in England, the 10.5 mile-long Windermere lake is surrounded by dozens of additional attractions in addition to the lake itself.

Windermere offers a vast number of ways to spend your day, including bike and boat hire, sailing lessons, and a variety of water sports such as wakeboarding, water skiing, flyboarding, paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking. Or, discover some of the best walks around Bowness-on-Windermere.

Lake Windermere Cruises offer one of the best ways to experience both the lake itself and the Lake District.

10. Loughrigg Fell

For those who enjoy a great walk, you won’t find a better way to see and feel the Lake District. Loughrigg Fell is a nearly 8-mile trail on the outskirts of Ambleside, Cumbria, and will take you half a day to complete.

Loughrigg Fell is one of the easiest trails to walk in Cumbria and one of the most rewarding. Accessible from the town centre, the views from the summit offer an unparalleled panorama of the Lake District, Windermere lake, the area’s woodlands, crags, and Rydal cave.

Loughrigg Fell is open year-round and is also one of the best spots in the Lake District for camping, mountain biking, and hiking.

11. Stock Ghyll Force

One of the most popular spots in Ambleside is Stock Ghyll Force. A 70-foot waterfall near the heart of the town centre, it’s a great spot to begin the day following a morning coffee or simply a stop along the way as you explore the small town of Ambleside.

You can visit year-round, but the autumn season is one of the more popular times to visit.

12. Rydal Water

Directly up Rydal Road from Ambleside, why not explore Rydal Water just as Wordsworth himself loved to do? Spend the afternoon and walk in the poet’s footsteps along Wordsworth Walk and stand in awe of the views from Wordsworth’s Seat, the poet’s favourite vantage point.

Though much smaller than Windermere, Rydal Water offers many natural attractions and many historical points. This includes Nab Cottage, the former homestead of Thomas Quincey and Hartley Coleridge, the son of Samual Taylor Coleridge, as well as Dove Cottage, another home of William Wordsworth.

13. Windermere Lake Cruises

One of the most popular ways to enjoy Windermere Lake is by ferry ride. Windermere Lake Cruises operates a modern fleet of steamers on the lake with numerous departure points along the lake’s eastern shore, including Bowness, Waterhead Pier, and Lakeside, and include distant places to visit such as Wray Castle.

The trips last between 45 minutes to 3 hours, and there are a variety of ticket options. With its unlimited boat travel for 24 hours or 48 hours, the Freedom of the Lake ticket is one of the most popular.

14. Ambleside Waterhead Pier

Just a 10-minute walk from Ambleside is Waterhead Pier, the waterfront district of Ambleside. It’s at Waterhead Pier where the largest lake in England begins, and from the pier, the Lake District can be seen from its best observation point, the lake itself.

The pier operates as a private dock with boat hire and a boardwalk surrounded by cafes, restaurants, tourist spots, and the occasional flock of ducks and swans.

The pier operates year-round and offers daily ferry launches between Ambleside and Bowness, as well as steamer trips to explore Lake Windermere. Take a boat ride and discover some of the many things to do in Bowness-on-Windermere

15. Skelghyll Woods

Just a short walk from Waterhead Pier is Skelghyll Woods, an age-old woodland with a walking trail that provides astounding views down onto Windermere Lake and the local towns from a summit above Jenkins Crag. 

The walk through Skelghyll Woods begins at the Waterhead Car Park and traverses the forest to Jenkin Crag. From the crag, you can walk to Stagshaw Garden or back to Ambleside.

The walk will take about 1-2 hours and is open year-round. It is perfect for families, and dogs are welcome.

16. St Mary’s Church

Still an operating church, St. Mary’s Church is full of beauty and amazement, such as its incredible stained glass windows, including two by Henry Holiday called the Children’s Window. There are also stunning murals, the most famous created by artist Gordon Ransom in 1944 of Ambleside’s Rushbearing ceremony, which is celebrated every July.

St. Mary’s Church is also the burial place of Mary Armitt, a haven for wildlife, and you can hear its eight church bells throughout the Lake District.


Do you need to book in advance to visit Beatrix Potter Gallery?

Walk-up tickets are available but in very limited supply. The site suggests booking your visit in advance, and the Gallery releases available time slots every Thursday.

How long does it take to climb Loughrigg Fell?

At an enjoyable and relaxed pace, the climb up Loughrigg Fell takes approximately 4 hours. Of course, this will be significantly influenced by the individual and or group.

Find the perfect getaway in the Lake District

With lots of things to do in Ambleside, there’s plenty of choice of places to visit during your stay in the Lake District. 

At The Craig Manor Hotel, we have a wide range of cosy and dog-friendly hotel rooms for you to choose from. Take a look at our special offers and book your stay in the Lake District today.