Ambleside is located in the centre of the Lake District at the head of Lake Windermere. Ambleside is a busy Lakeland market town with everything a visitor could want from outdoor shops offering tackle for walkers and climbers,craft shops,galleries and numerous cafe’s and restaurants.For those who want to take it easy there are strolls along the shore, boat trips on the lake and many other things to do and see.
Ambleside is an ideal base for a walking holiday with access to the local fells and mountains.
Things to see in Ambleside:
Stockghyll force is a “must see” waterfall of great beauty.Stockghyll is a short walk from the centre of Ambleside, behind the Salutation Hotel, and is an impressive 70 foot waterfall which can be seen from a railed viewpoint.
Stock Ghyll which is a tributary of the River Rothay, cascades down through a series of waterfalls to the centre of Ambleside and it was here that the watermills were driven to produce bobbins plus paper and ground corn.
Bridge House is possibly the smallest tourist attraction in the Lakes and has even been painted by famous artists such as Turner. It apparently started life as an apple store for nearby Ambleside Hal and was built over Stock Beck to avoid paying land tax. It is believed that at some point in its history a family with six children lived here in the two rooms. It is now a shop for the National Trust.
Ambleside Museum (home to many Beatrix Potter artefacts)
Waterhead: As the name suggests Waterhead is the northerly point of Lake Windermere and is a short stroll from the village centre.Windermere Lake Cruises operate a steamer service from the pier either to Bowness and back or round the lake.
Bowness is particularly well placed for day visitors with easy access from the M6 or from the A590 via Newby Bridge. Due to this, Bowness is arguably the most “touristy” place in the Lakes and fulfils that function well with accommodation for all budget levels and plenty of things to do.
Bowness apparently was a small fishing village, hence the narrow streets, but it was the arrival of the railway that began the influx of visitors in the 19th century and the virtual merging of Bowness & Windermere villages into one. The Victorian explosion can best be seen by the number of Victorian Guest Houses and hotels which cater to visitors to this day.
By the lake the Windermere Lake Cruises ply their trade from the pier where you can also hire rowing boats and small electric boats to discover the lake for yourself.
Bowness has a marina village and attractions including the Beatrix Potter Attraction located in the centre of the village.
There are many shops and a wide choice of cafe’s and restaurants in Bowness to choose from but it does get very busy in high summer.
Broughton In Furness lies just south of the Duddon Valley and west of Coniston.
It has a square complete with obelisk and stocks and a few real lakeland inns including The Manor, The Black Cock,The Kings Head and just out of the village, the High Cross.
A short distance out of the village is Broughton Mills where you will find the excellent Blacksmiths Arms a real piece of Lakeland heritage with a time continuum all its own!
The village has a bakery/cybercafe and a butchers/grocers owned and run by Ian Tyson who was a recent finalist in the “best cumberland sausage” competition plus a post office, outdoor clothing shop and craft gallery.
Just beyond the Square is a great playground for the little ones and a one and 1/2 mile walk up the old railway line toward Woodland and Coniston.
Broughton Show : Bank Holiday Saturday in August
Cartmel is a peaceful pretty village where the pace of life is gentle except for when Cartmel has its race days!
It is a medieval village and the market square still has its fish slabs where “flukes” better known as flounders would be displayed for sale.
There are winding streets,shops and pubs plus a well renowned Michelin star restaurant L’Enclume.
The Priory or Church of St Mary is 800 years old having survived the dissolution and bread is still left in the building for the poor of the parish.
Holker Hall is nearby as is the town of Grange over Sands and the shores of Morecambe Bay are never far away.
August sees the annual village show
Cartmel holds race meetings several times a year.
High And Low Newton
The villages are essentially one village really and until recently they were astride a dangerous stretch of the A590 on the road to Newby Bridge.
Thankfully they have now been bypassed and are a real joy to visit with some splendid walks over Cartmel Fell with great views.
Flookburgh is full of charm and with a couple of pubs and an interesting history as a fishing village it is well worth a visit.
The old airfield is used for the Cumbria Steam gathering in July each year.
Morecambe Bay Potted shrimps used to be a speciality here and Furness fish & Game have a factory style outlet on the road down to the airfield.
Cark is another little village close to the Holker Hall Estate with its historic house and grounds. It is home to the Cavendish family and there is a fine tea room and shop there.
Holker has a garden festival in summer which is always popular.
Coniston is a “must see” Lake District village nestling beneath the protective cover of the “Old Man Of Coniston” towering 2,000 feet above the village.
Famous for its Coppermines (not safe to enter!!) which reached their economic peak in the 1850’s,for the visitor there is much to see and many reasons to tarry awhile.
At the pierhead you can hire an electric or rowing boat by the hour and find tranquility on the lake.You can take a memorable trip on the Steam Yacht Gondola redolent of the splendourous steam age or travel to Brantwood on a ferry across the lake.
There are pubs and cafes for refreshment and many shops to browse in.
The village is heavily associated with John Ruskin,one of the great Victorians. Ruskin was an artist, amateur geologist, art critic, teacher, writer, social critic and philosopher. The John Ruskin Museum named after him is in the village centre and well worth a visit.
Also forever to be associated with Coniston is Donald Campbell who used the lake for his world record attempts in the 1960’s and who tragically died when Bluebird flipped over on a run down the lake in 1965. Bluebird was rescued from the lake bottom recently and is to be restored and be returned to the village as a testimonial to Donald Campbell.
Grasmere village is right in the beating heart of the Lake District
National Park. If you choose Grasmere as a base the towns of
Ambleside, Keswick, Hawkshead, Coniston, Bowness and Windermere are within an easy drive.
The lake has some easy walks for those that prefer not to scale the mountains but the peaks of Helvellyn,Scafell Pike, Skiddaw and the Langdale Pikes are again close by.
Grasmere was once the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth and today you can visit two of his former homes:Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount.
Also in the centre of Grasmere is St. Oswalds Church, the churchyard of which contains the Wordsworth family graves.
Attractions include the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop and the Heaton Cooper studio/gallery of watercolours by the famous Lakes artist.
Grasmere has a show in August each year.
Hawkshead is a pretty village in the heart of the lake district with interesting literary connections.
Close by is Far Sawrey and Hilltop, home for many years to Beatrix Potter and Hawkshead Grammar School was where William Wordsworth poetically daydreamed his way through lessons in the 18th century (you can see his old school desk).
Also of note in the village is St Michaels church which can trace its history back to 1500.
Hawkshead is an excellent base for a Lake District holiday and has hotels, self catering accommodation and a campsite.
Tarn Hows owned by the National Trust is nearby as is Esthwaite and some good walks are to be found at both locations.
Hawkshead does get very busy during summer and an early start will make parking in the village that much easier!
Each year Hawkshead has a village show and a christmas market
Often called the “gateway to the Lakes” and sometimes the “Old grey town” Kendal lies on the river Kent a handy distance from the M6.
The twelfth century stone ruins of Kendal Castle sit on a hill on the edge of the town, offering views over Kendal and the surrounding hills. It was once owned by the Parr family of which Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, was a famous member.
Kendal’s wealth originally came from the wool trade. The trade grew in the 14th century when Flemish weavers came to the area. From this time through the 19th century there were many mills on the River Kent. Kendal is known for ‘Kendal Green’,a hardwearing material worn by Kendal archers.
Kendal Mint Cake is famous the world over with explorers and mountaineers and was invented by a mistake in the manufacturing process!
The Brewery Arts Centre, housed in a former brewery located in the centre of Kendal, is a multi-purpose arts complex that offers theatre, music, cinema, art galleries, a restaurant and more besides.
The town has excellent shops and some good restaurants
As with Bowness and Windermere tourist visits to Keswick began in the late 18th century due to the area’s connections with famous writers such as Ruskin, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey and its popularity with artists including Turner and Constable.
Roads into the Lakes gradually improved but it was in the 1860’s with the building of the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway line that Keswick saw visitor numbers dramatically increase, and Keswick commenced the transformation from a small market town to the busy tourist centre it is today.
The Keswick Traditional Christmas Fayre will takes place in December.With lots of decorated charity stalls and a host of street entertainment the Fayre marks the start of the Festive season in Keswick. With the Christmas tree and shops festooned with colourful lights, and equally colourful local characters providing entertainment the event is an occasion not to be missed.
What to see:
A riverside setting with glorious open views towards Skiddaw. The Lower Park has a large open recreational area, cricket pavilion and children’s playground. In summertime you can enjoy watching the local cricket teams who play in the centre of the park or have a picnic alongside the River Greta. The Upper Park has a bowling green, tennis and putting. The Games open on Friday 3rd April 2009 until Sunday 27th September 2009.
Within the park is the Keswick Museum a Victorian Museum revealing Keswick’s past from industrial mining centre to tourist centre with some very famous residents. If you are a musician you should go and try the slate vibes!
Nearby Derwent Water has boat trips and you can hire rowing boats or small powered craft to discover the delights of the lake.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle stands on an imposing natural plateau with a superb 360 degree view over the surrounding fells. It is composed of 38 free standing stones, some up to 3 metres (10 feet) high. It is one of Britain’s earliest stone circles dating back to the Neolithic period 4000 to 5000 years ago.
The original purpose of the site is still a mystery. Three stone axes have been discovered inside the circle. In the Neolithic period axes were made from volcanic stone quarried in the fells. It may have been used for social gatherings or for religious ceremonies and rituals or possibly as an astronomical observatory with the stones being aligned to the sun, moon and stars.
Castlerigg Stone Circle is located 1.5 miles south east of Keswick. Grid Reference NY291236.
There is limited parking at the site. Admission is free.
Keswick has an annual agricultural show usually held on August bank holiday Monday
Keswick Jazz Festival : Held in May
Pooley Bridge lies at the north end of Ullswater, the name apparently comes from a large pool in the River Eamont, just before it flows out of Ullswater which gives the name Pooley.
Centuries ago a bridge was built across the river from whence came the name Pooley Bridge.The bridge can still be seen.
Before the advent of mass tourism the village was a small fishing and farming community.
Today boats can be found moored on the lake and the Ullswater Steamers depart from here offering trips along the lake to Howtown and Glenridding at the southern end of the lake.
The village has two main streets with quaint old stone houses. From the bridge there are views to take in and the drive down the west shore takes you past Aira Force.Glenridding and Patterdale before the splendid climb up Kirkstone Pass.
The more hedonistic might prefer a short drive down the east shore to Sharrow Bay (afternoon tea is your webmasters favourite!) and culture vultures can visit the nearby Dalemain historic house and gardens.
Rydal is more a hamlet than a village per se and is located on the road between Grasmere and Ambleside in the Rothay Valley. Rydal owes its fame chiefly as home to William Wordsworth for 37 years.
Opposite the hamlet lies Rydal Water somewhat less than a mile long but nevertheless of great beauty particularly early morning when mist lies over the lake. There is a walk around the lake itself which includes Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount and Rydal Cave an impressive cavern in the hill above the lake. The National Trust have provided a picnic area for visitors to the lake.
Wordsworth’s Seat can be found at the western end of the lake and it is believed to have been one of Wordsworths favourite views.
Within the hamlet is St Mary’s Rydal Church which dates back to 1824 and the church is open every day to visitors.
Rydal Hall is owned by the Church of England and is now utilised for holidays and conferences.
The gardens surrounding Rydal Hall are open to the public, admission is free, and there is also a tea shop.
Staveley village is located between Kendal and Windermere just off the A591 the main road into to the Lakes. The village received its market charter in 1329.
The heart of any village was the church and in Staveleys case it was St Margaret’s Church which was built in 1388. Sadly only its tower remains.
A new church St James was constructed in 1865 featuring a window designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and made by William Morris and Co.
For visitors to the Lakes the main attraction of this pretty village is the Staveley Mill Yard featuring a number of businesses and Lake District institution Wilfs Cafe Hawkshead Brewery as well as Aiguille Outdoors and the Artisan Bakery.
There is an excellent pub The Eagle & Child and bed and breakfast accommodation is available in the village.
The Langdale Valley
Great Langdale or the Langdale valley as we tend to call it is a Discover The Lakes favourite.
It is prime walking and climbing territory with Loft Crag, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark all above 2,000 feet but has much to offer for the more sedentary of us.
Commencing at Skelwith Bridge just a short drive from Ambleside where you will find the lovely Chesters cafe with its outside terrace the road winds its way to Elterwater village where there is a large National Trust car park and a great pub the Brittannia Inn as well as a couple of shops.
Continuing on past Elterwater you will find the village of Chapel Stile and a short drive will take you up to the Sticklebarn.
At the head of the valley is the Old Dungeon Ghyll.
You will now be surrounded by dramatic scenery with the majestic Langdale Pikes and a sense of the age of this valley which in the neolithic period was noted for producing stone axes and in more recent times it was an important centre for the lakeland slate industry.
Ulverston is a historic market town lying just beyond the Lake District National Park boundary. Known as “the laal town with a big heart” it is famous for its plethora of festivals which include the Charter Festival, Flag Festival, Carnival and Walking Festival.
Ulverston is widely known as the birthplace of Stan Laurel (you can visit the museum dedicated to Stan & Ollie) and also as the birthplace of Sir John Barrow.
The town is overlooked by the Sir John Barrow monument on Hoad Hill a replica of the Eddystone lighthouse built in 1850 which has just secured lottery funding for a complete restoration.
Ulverston received its charter in 1280 and market day is Thursday with many stalls selling cumbrian produce on the market square.
Ulverston is a great shopping destination with many fashion shops and specialist food shops.There are cafe’s and restaurants to choose from and a new wine bar.
A canal (shortest and deepest in England) links the town centre with Morecambe bay at Canal Foot and the canal was used for the iron ore trade in bygone times.
Flag Fortnight May, Flags and banners throughout the town.
Ulverston Walking Festival : April
Annual Carnival Parade : July (first saturday)
Ulverston Charter Festival: September
Dickensian Festival : November
In common with Bowness, Windermere grew in Victorian times with the arrival of the railway and the resulting explosion of traditional lakeland guest houses catered to the tourist trade then and now.
The village shopping centre has benefitted greatly from the recent widening of the pavements and pedestrianisation.
Shops tend to be specialist and include the Galactic Emporium which is a Star Wars fan’s wildest dream as well as a Gallery and wine shop plus some rather up-market fashion shops and ubiquitous outdoor clothing emporiums.
Eating out in Windermere has been transformed of late and there are many places to enjoy fine food.
Many day trippers to Bowness fail to make it “up the hill” to Windermere which is a shame as it has much to offer without the crowds of its sister village