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Pocket Guide: Hotels in Ambleside

Travelling to Ambleside

Ambleside is one of the four major towns in the Lake District and offers an idyllic spot to base yourself. There is plenty of choice offered by the many Ambleside hotels, and their location could not be better.

In the southern part of England’s most visited National Park, Ambleside nestles against the sublime beauty of Lake Windermere. The lake stretches for 10.5 miles between Ambleside and Newby Bridge, and is known as the queen of Lake District lakes.

The lake is the largest body of water anywhere in England, and its charms were not lost on William Wordsworth, who lived in Ambleside.

"Windermere ought to be seen both from its shores and from its surface. None of the other Lakes unfold so many fresh beauties … owing to its greater size, to the islands, and to its having two vales at the head, with their accompanying mountains of near equal dignity." William Wordsworth in Guide to the Lakes.

Once a busy mill and textile centre, Ambleside is today an attractive and welcoming little town. Its buildings are built from the same slate and stern grey stone that characterise the Lake District. Ringed by fells, it's a favourite base for hikers, and it boasts a handful of outdoors shops for equipment and supplies, and plenty of cosy pubs, cafes and restaurants to refuel at after an adventurous climb or gentle stroll.

Hotels in Ambleside

As one of the main tourist centres for the South Lakes area, Ambleside is justifiably popular. This means that in peak season many hotels will often be booked far in advance, so it pays to plan ahead.

There are some wonderful spa hotels close to Ambleside, offering plenty of idle pampering if you are coming to relax, or well-deserved massages if you are going to tackle the hills and mountains of the Lake District.

Staying in Ambleside itself will place you amid a good choice of pubs and restaurants to sample each evening but, if you are looking to get away from it all, one of the country house hotels and guesthouses in more rural areas nearby may suit you better.

Those wishing to explore the literary connections of the area may prefer to opt for a Grasmere hotel, just a few miles north of Ambleside. In this pretty hamlet Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage can be found. Beautiful as it is, though, this is a tourist honeypot and you can expect day visitors to arrive in their numbers.

Boutique hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts also can be found around Ambleside, providing plenty of options for your Lake District stay. With some stunning walks and hikes nearby, you may wish to choose a guesthouses or hotel just out of town. This way you’ll be close to the starting point for many of the excellent walking trails.

Exploring the Lake District from your Ambleside hotel

A visit to Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, in nearby Grasmere, is a must. It was Wordsworth and the Romantic poets who popularised the Lake District and drew inspiration from its sublime scenery in their works. Do bear in mind, however, that just on your doorstep in Ambleside you have Rydal Mount, another home that Wordsworth lived in. Less famous than Dove Cottage, Wordsworth actually spent a great deal more time at Rydal Mount.

One of the main attractions of Ambleside is the opportunity to take a boat trip on the lake. There are many trips on boats that will help you explore its scenic beauty, or you can just hop on the ferry that takes you over to Bowness, where an aquarium and the theme park that brings the World of Beatrix Potter to life can be found.

There’s little better than to wander through Ambleside’s Armitt Library and Museum, which focuses on the cultural heritage of the Lake District. Included among its collection is a fascinating exploration of Beatrix Potter’s life and work.

And if the weather plays ball you can head for Stock Ghyll Force, a spectacular 70-foot waterfall, that pummels the ground beneath it and plays host at its top to Bridge House, a 17th century structure that is now used as an information centre for the National Trust.

A little further afield there’s also a fun day out to be had on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway. Climb aboard to travel along the coast to the foot of the Scafell range. From Ambleside, there are a number of gentle walks and strenuous hikes to enjoy and within easy reach, are the challenges of Scafell Pike.

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