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16 things to do in Ambleside

Whether you’re escaping the city smog or are a seasoned walker, Ambleside has country comforts aplenty

By Katie Gregory |

Few places are as good for blowing away city cobwebs as Ambleside, which was once home to English poet William Wordsworth. Sitting pretty in the heart of the Lake District, this Cumbrian town is surrounded by a picturesque mix of soaring fells, tumbling waterfalls and glassy lakes – the landmark one being Windermere, England’s biggest.

No surprise, then, that outdoor pursuits rule the roost, and most of the town’s attractions – from the outdoor shops to the post-hike pubs – revolve around bracing walks. Visit in summer to join the throngs of friendly ramblers; visit off season to wander lonely as a cloud.

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A perfect day in Ambleside

First up

Fuel up with an enormous brekkie – you’re going to walk it off later. Copper Pot Café is a lovely little find – its ‘Lake District Large ’Un’ is what elasticated waists were made for. The full English at Apple Pie Café is first-rate, too. Grab some Bath buns from the bakery on your way out.


Stop for lunch

For fine dining, try The Old Stamp House – the lunch tasting menu is inspired by Cumbria and peppered with words like jus and emulsion. For good honest grub, Great North Pie Co will see you right. Its pastry-wrapped fillings include classics such as beef mince and onion, as well as specials like saag aloo.


Drink like a local

Stop for a pint of Cumbria Way at Golden Rule on Smithy Brow. Expect real ales, board games and lots of rosy-cheeked walkers. Then follow Lake Road out of the town centre and you’ll reach Wateredge Inn, a dog-friendly drinking hole with an open fire and cracking views over Lake Windermere.

If you only do one thing

Walk to Stock Ghyll Force and marvel at the 70-foot waterfall – it crashes down a hillside just minutes from the town centre. Follow the marked path from Stock Ghyll Lane, and you can walk a circular route in around 30 minutes. For more of a scramble, drive half an hour to Keswick and tackle Catbells fell.

The Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside

And if you stay the night, wake up here

Sat on a crossroads in what feels like the absolute middle of bloody nowhere, The Drunken Duck is a haven of fireside seats, muddy dogs and delicious grub. Whether you’ve hiked the fells to reach it or been dropped off in a taxi, there’s a sense of it being the only outpost of civilisation for miles around. The welcome is heartfelt and rooms here are all about comfort, with views across the hills. The best bit? Breakfast, where you can fill up on treats like toasted fruit loaf and pancakes topped with chestnut custard and stewed plums. No, you’re dribbling. From £125 a night.

Staying in the Lake District?