Ambleside boats

Surrounded by the rugged landscapes that inspired William Wordsworth, and overlooked by the Langdale Pikes that provided Alfred Wainwright with much excitement, the small town of Ambleside is a perfect base for exploring some of the Lake District’s most wild fells.

Whilst the local population is small at just under 3000 residents, the town, on the northern shores of Lake Windermere, punches above its weight as a tourist destination, with an excellent selection of shops, cafés and accommodation.

Top Ambleside Hotels

Ambleside provides the perfect base for those wishing to explore Lake Windermere and the vicinity, which includes Grasmere, Rydal, and Elterwater. There's also a lovely town centre with shops and pubs and a good amount of hotels in the area.


A stop off point for Roman travellers journeying between the port of Ravenglass and the important Roman fort of Brocavum near what is now known as Penrith, the fort of Galava is just south of Ambleside and thought to have been the first settlement in the area. 

During the 17th century the town became an important centre for wool and agricultural trade, and later became the place of employment for poet William Wordsworth, who held the esteemed government position of Distributor of Stamps with an office in the town.

The town began to develop as a tourist destination in the 19th century when the ferry terminal was opened, taking passengers across Windermere to Bowness.


Ambleside is home to an array of independent retailers, particularly those who specialise in outdoor activities, reflecting Ambleside’s popularity for visiting fell walkers. Little Walkers caters for the needs of children and babies taking their first foray into the Cumbria fells, whilst the Climbers Shop has been providing highly specialised climbing equipment for over 50 years.

There are a number of home, gift, and garden shops, including Hayes Garden World, the largest garden centre in Cumbria, independently owned by a family with five generations of landscape gardeners.

Key Attractions


Ambleside’s most popular attraction is the ferry port on Lake Windermere. From here, you can catch a scheduled cruise around the lake with stops at Bowness, the Lakeside Steam Railway, and more, or you can hire row boat or a motor boat for your own private use.

Many people use Ambleside as a base to tackle the popular Fairfield Horseshoe Walk that covers 16 kilometres of track with 1100 metres of ascent, with the summit of Fairfield being the highest point at 873 metres above sea level. A number of local companies offer guided walks in the area and it really is the best way to enjoy the spectacular Cumbrian countryside.

Just north of Ambleside is the small village of Grasmere, along with the lake of the same name. Here you will find Dove Cottage, former home to William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy.

Getting There

By Car – Ambleside is best reached by taking junction 36 from the M6 and then the A590 and A591 towards Windermere and Keswick. The A591 can be particularly slow during the summer months as the single carriage way road that travels through the centre of several towns and villages becomes overwhelmed with traffic.

By Public Transport – The nearest railway station is Windermere on the Windermere branch line that offers services between Windermere and Oxenholme where connections onto the West Coast Main Line can be made. Stagecoach run a regular bus service between Windermere and Ambleside.