Ambleside

Street Map

Ambleside is a town in Cumbria, in North West England. Historically within the county of Westmorland, it is situated at the head of Windermere, England’s largest lake. The town is within the Lake District National Park. The town’s name is derived from Old Norse Á-mel-sǽtr = “river — sandbank — summer pasture”.

To the south of Ambleside is the Roman fort of Galava, dating from AD79. To the west, Loughrigg Fell rises above the town; to the north are Red Screes and the hills of the Fairfield group; to the east is Wansfell.

Ambleside is administered by South Lakeland District Council and forms part of the Lakes civil parish but from 1894 to 1935 it was a separate urban district council.

In 1650 the town was granted a charter to hold a market and later, in the reign of James II, another charter was granted for the town to collect tolls. The town’s Market Place became the commercial centre for agriculture and the wool trade. The old packhorse trail between Ambleside and Grasmere was the main route between the two towns before the new turnpike road was completed in 1770. Smithy Brow at the end of the trail was where packponies were re-shod after their journey. With the coming of the turnpikes, the packhorse trains were superseded by horse-drawn stagecoaches, which regularly travelled between Keswick and Kendal via Ambleside.

Bridge House was built over Stock Ghyll more than 300 years ago probably as a summer house and apple store for Ambleside Hall. The building was purchased by local people in 1926 and given to the National Trust. It is now used as an information centre for the National Trust, and is part of the Trust’s Windermere and Troutbeck property.

William Wordsworth’s house at Rydal Mount, lies in the nearby village of Rydal.

The Armitt Library and Museum provides a source of local history with a collection which represents many of the local artists and writers of the past.

Steamers (in reality diesel-powered ferries) run to Bowness-on-Windermere and Lakeside offering fine views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Ambleside is a base for hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking. It has a number of hotels, guest houses, pubs and restaurants as well as shops. In particular, there are a number of shops selling equipment for walkers and climbers in the town.

Ambleside has a relatively large number of pubs for its size with some ten pubs and bars within a quarter mile radius. They are supported by the tourist industry, so essential to the town, as well as the student population associated with the University of Cumbria.

 

The town maintains one of the busiest volunteer mountain rescue teams in Great Britain: The Langdale & Ambleside MRT.

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