“Poetry made popular in Wordsworth country”
The popular villages of Grasmere & Ambleside lie on the central spine of the Lake District between the towns of Keswick & Windermere/Bowness. Both villages (and neighbouring Rydal) have supreme access to many of the best walks in the area and have a famous history based on the life and works of William Wordsworth. The problem though is that they can become impossibly busy, Grasmere particularly becoming a bottleneck where being stuck in a queue is the normality rather than a rarity. It is a shame because it is lovely, as is Rydal whereas Ambleside is, to me, a little over commercialised and much less attractive. However for those venturing outside the villages and away from the main road the area is lovely – the real Lake District that Wordsworth and his fellow poets wrote about.
Easedale Tarn, Elterwater and Loughrigg Fell are pockets of real delight whilst any visit to the Lake District is not complete without a visit to Langdale, and in particular Great Langdale. A drink in the Dungeon Ghyll hotel, a walk up to Stickle Tarn under the famous Langdale Pikes or a simple climb of Lingmoor Fell from the top of the pass – all should be included in any Lakeland visit based at Ambleside or Grasmere. Parking is always the issue that rears its head in this area of the Lakes but there is usually sufficient up Langdale if a trifle expensive.
Grasmere is a very pretty village made famous by the poet William Wordsworth who lived in Dove Cottage for 10 years 200 years ago. Even without a visit to Dove Cottage (which I have never actually been in although I did spend every holiday in the excellent bookshop!) there is much is to do here. The graveyard at St Oswald’s Church is always busy as visitors scan the Wordsworth family graves, the ducks on the river are probably the most photographed ducks in the country, gingerbread was possibly invented here and there is a fine art gallery featuringa local family of artists Heaton Cooper. There is much else to enjoy in Grasmere, it is a very pretty village, but it is the walks that are most appealing whether up Easedale and the Lion & the Lamb to the north or Grasmere Lake and Loughrigg Fell to the south.
Ambleside is on the northern shore of Lake Windermere and is a real tourist centre which is very popular for much of the year. There is an excellent array of walking related shops – competition driving the prices to a more reasonable level than elsewhere. Plenty of places to eat and drink, a rather good museum of football with access to and facilities to enjoy on Windermere really sum up Ambleside. Access to the fells is good, in particular the Fairfield Horseshoe but really Ambleside marks the southern end of the hills, south of it the land flattens out and farmland starts to become dominant.
Between Grasmere and Ambleside lies the lovely area of Rydal Water and a beautiful stretch of the River Brathay. Rydal itself is small and almost impossible to stay in but a visit to another of the Wordsworth homes, Rydal Mount, is a very popular trip.
Away from the busy A591 there are two exceptionally pretty villages, Elterwater and Chapel Stile in Langdale. These are stunningly located within easy walking of some of the best scenery in the Lake District, each has at least one excellent pub and I cannot recommend either of them more for a perfect place to stay in the Lake District.
These are a few of my favourite walks in the Grasmere/Ambleside area, click on the link for further details.
Fairfield Horseshoe. A classic 10 mile round from Rydal or Ambleside taking in a number of high fells.
A Walk Round Grasmere. Follow the footsteps of William Wordsworth around one of the prettiest lakes in the Lake District.
Loughrigg Fell. The head of Grasmere lake features a beautiful little fell of exceptional character.
Easedale Tarn from Grasmere. A lovely tarn surrounded by some of the less popular fells of central Lakeland.
Lion & the Lamb. Iconic fell which is a firm favourite of young and old with a classic scramble to the summit
Ridges over Grasmere. A 10 mile walk over the undulating ridges enclosing Easedale Tarn and Grasmere
Langdale Pikes. Pass Stickle Tarn before climbing steeply on to the 3 famous Langdale Pikes.
Crinkle Crags & Bowfell. An undulating ridge is a fine walk and takes in the famous Climber’s Traverse.
Pike O Blisco. A rocky, steep fell dominating the view at the head of the Langdale road.
Loughrigg Tarn & Rydal Water A circuit of Loughrigg Fell includes Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere & Rydal
Lands above Ambleside Easy to get to, Lily Tarn is supremely set in some typical Lakes scenery
Wansfell Pike & Windermere. A steep climb up Wansfell before a gradual descent and great views across Windermere
Exploring Elterwater. A very popular walk of 4 miles starting in the lovely village of Elterwater.
Lingmoor Fell. A personal favourite hill in Langdale with a long rocky ridge and an excellent panorama.
Other Things to do near Grasmere & Ambleside
Dove Cottage, Grasmere. William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived at the house for 10 years at the start of the 19th century.
Rydal Mount. Wordsworth was most content here and the house and gardens have plenty of memorabilia to enjoy.
Wray Castle. A gothic castle near Ambleside with entertainment for children inside and outside within the grounds
Allan Bank. Grasmere. A more traditional country estate with excellent grounds for children to explore and play
Gingerbread Shop. A pleasure to visit the shop where gingerbread of all descriptions and tastes can be tried (or bought). Grasmere.
Heaton Cooper Studio. The family have produced iconic watercolours throughout the 20th century of classic views of Lakeland. Grasmere.
Home of Football, Ambleside. Anywhere that shows a picture of Liam O’Brien’s classic free kick against Sunderland is worth a visit!
Cruises on Windermere. Many visitors to Ambleside will want to take a steamer down Lake Windermere.
Grasmere Sports. Features those politically incorrect sports of wrestling, fell running and bating for hounds this popular show is held at the end of August.
Updated Weather Forecast
Click here to go to the Met Office website for the 5 day weather forecast for the area around Grasmere & Ambleside.
Places to Stay