5 unusual things to do in ambleside

(If you want to avoid the crowds)

To give you a few ideas and inspiration for your next stay, let’s explore Ambleside’s attractions

Take an Amble to the Quieter Side

When you’re ambling around Ambleside, you’ll definitely want to take a peek inside the tiny Bridge House (everyone does), which sits over Stock Beck and was once home to a family of eight!

And you’ll probably wander up to marvel at the exhilarating Stock Ghyll Force waterfall – it’s a short, easy walk from the centre and clearly signposted.

You’ll almost certainly visit the Rock Shop – especially if you’re travelling with children. And no trip would be complete without a jaunt on the lake in a rowing boat (hire one from the pier at Waterhead).

Plus, you couldn’t be in a better place to kit yourself out for exploring the fells, with outdoor shops galore to browse in.

But what about Ambleside’s lesser-known attractions? Here are our 5 Hidden treasures in and around Ambleside, to give you some inspiration for your next stay.

Blooming lovely

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the centre of Ambleside, the peaceful surroundings of nearby Stagshaw Gardens (looked after by the National Trust) should be your destination.

A beautiful and tranquil woodland garden covering around eight acres, this enchanting haven is planted with impressive nose-and-eye-pleasing collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, camellias and other acid-loving trees and shrubs – visit in spring when they’re flowering to see them at their majestic best.

Dotted with benches to relax and enjoy the views, you can also wend your way along the footpaths that guide you around the woods and over charming wooden bridges that cross the beck running down the steep hillside.

As tall as a tree

A twig toss away from Stagshaw Gardens you can find Skellghyll Woods, an ancient forest of around 95 acres and home to some of the tallest trees in the country – the tallest is a grand fir higher than Nelson’s Column.

The best way to see them all is to follow the Champion Tree Trail (look out for the tree symbols), which leads you on a 45-minute circular route, taking in the conifers collected by Victorian plant hunters from all over the world.

There are picnic benches too if you want to take a break and eat your sarnies.

Look out for the spire

Come and meet Ethelberga, Benedict Biscop, Cuthbert, Caedmon, Hilda, Bede, Aidan, Edwin, Wilfred, Oswald, Paulinus, Finan, Columba, and Kentigern – 14 northern saints whose figures are carved into the wooden choir stalls at St Mary’s Church, and just one of the many fascinating features to be found inside this 19th-century gothic-style building.

Look out for the colourful stained-glass windows, the ancient (probably pre-reformation) sandstone font, a 26-foot-long mural depicting Ambleside residents taking part in the rush bearing ceremony (rushes were used to cover the ground like a carpet for warmth before the church had a stone floor), and the small chapel dedicated to William Wordsworth (he gets everywhere in Cumbria).

The church is easy to find – you can see its spire from just about anywhere in Ambleside, and for miles around.

Roman around

You can get a great view over Galava, what remains of a Roman fort near Ambleside, from Loughrigg Fell. But if you want to get a bit closer to ancient history, it’s easy to access – just head to Borrans Field, close to the shore at the northern end of Lake Windermere.

Built on the site of an earlier, smaller fort in around 79AD (when Hadrian was calling the shots) to protect trade routes through Cumbria, up to 500 soldiers lived there at its height.

And while it may now just look at first sight like a flat pile of rock, the outlines of several rooms, including the headquarters and granaries are clearly visible. Owned and managed by the National Trust, it can be visited at any time. You can look at some of the artefacts that have been found there during various excavations in the Armitt Museum in Ambleside.

Ambleside preserved

Filled with everything from Roman objects to Beatrix Potter’s exquisite fungi watercolours, an extensive library of mountaineering literature to a major collection of the late German avant-garde artist, and Ambleside resident, Kurt Schwitters’ art, plus a huge library of local photography, the Armitt Museum is dedicated to preserving the social history of Ambleside and its place in the Lake District.

Well worth a visit (even if it’s not raining!), this fascinating museum and gallery hosts regularly changing exhibitions and has been an Ambleside institution since 1912.

Discover more of the Lake District’s Quiet Places

Venture off the beaten path and relish the many advantages of exploring its quieter, more secluded areas. Your journey will be filled with tranquillity and the chance to create unforgettable memories.

Discover the authentic charm of less-visited villages and trails, providing a true sense of the region’s culture and history.

Looking for a peaceful escape?

Find our most charming small lake district villages you must see. These small lake district villages offer a tranquil retreat with their quaint charm and stunning natural beauty.

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