Grasmere and Ambleside

Jonathan’s View

“Poetry and historical figures made popular in the lovely surroundings of Wordsworth country”

The Area

The popular villages of Grasmere & Ambleside lie in the central spine of the Lake District. Both villages (and nearby Rydal) have excellent access to many of the best walks in the area and have a famous history based in no small measure to the life and works of William Wordsworth. The problem though is that they can become impossibly busy.

Grasmere, in particular, can become a bottleneck where being stuck in a queue is the normality rather than a rarity. It is a shame because the village is lovely, as is Rydal. Move off the A591 road and there are some pretty villages and the jewel in the crown, the incomparable Langdale Valley.


Lion & the Lamb, Grasmere
Lion & the Lamb, Grasmere

Grasmere is a very pretty village made famous by the poets William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and Hartley Coleridge.  Aside from their poetry they were probably the first ‘walking tourists’; Wordsworth even wrote a guide book to the area! Dove Cottage just outside Grasmere is where Wordsworth had his most creative moments although he was living there for barely 10 years.

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 and gingerbread was ‘possibly’ invented here. There is much else to enjoy in Grasmere, it is a very pretty village, but it is the walks that are most appealing. The walk up Easedale and the Lion & the Lamb to the north are extremely popular as is a circuit of Grasmere (Lake) and Loughrigg Fell to the south.


Lily Tarn above Ambleide
Lily Tarn above Ambleside

Ambleside is on the northern shore of Lake Windermere and is a real tourist trap. There is an excellent array of walking related shops, plenty of places to eat and drink, a rather good museum of football with access to Lake Windermere.  Access to the fells is good, in particular the Fairfield Horseshoe and the lesser visited hills to the west. To me though Ambleside marks the southern boundary of the true Lake District.

Between Grasmere and Ambleside lies the picturesque Rydal Water and a beautiful stretch of the River Brathay. Rydal itself is small and almost impossible to find accommodation but a visit to another of the Wordsworth homes, Rydal Mount, makes it a busy place.

Langdale Valley

Red Tarn & Crinkle Crags
Red Tarn & Crinkle Crags

Easedale Tarn, Elterwater and Loughrigg Fell are pockets of real delight but any visit to the Lake District is not complete without a visit to Langdale, and in particular the Great Langdale valley. 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 should be included in any Lakeland visit. one of these involve tackling the higher and famous fells which circle the valley. The high level walking is simply superb. Parking can be an issue; expensive and limited, I suspect we are not far from banning cars in certain areas…particularly when electric transport can be used.

Also set away from the busy A591 are the two pretty villages of Elterwater and Chapel Stile. 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 can recommend either of them as an excellent place to stay in the Lake District.


The Best Walks near Grasmere and Ambleside

These are my favourite walks in the Grasmere/Ambleside area, click on the link for further details.


A Walk Round Grasmere. Follow the footsteps of William Wordsworth around one of the prettiest lakes in the Lake District.

Lion & the Lamb. Iconic fell which is a firm favourite of young and old with a classic scramble to the summit.

Exploring Elter Water. A very popular walk of 4 miles starting in the lovely village of Elterwater.

Lands above Ambleside  Easy to get to, Lily Tarn is supremely set in some typical Lakes scenery.


Loughrigg Tarn & Rydal Water A circuit of Loughrigg Fell includes Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere & Rydal

Loughrigg Fell. The head of Grasmere lake features a beautiful little fell of exceptional character.

Silver How over Grasmere. A fell of humps and hollows characterising this part of the Lake District.

Easedale Tarn from Grasmere. A lovely tarn surrounded by some of the less popular fells of central Lakeland.

Wansfell Pike & Windermere. A steep climb up Wansfell before a gradual descent and great views across Windermere.

Lingmoor Fell. A personal favourite hill in Langdale with a long rocky ridge and an excellent panorama.


Fairfield Horseshoe. A classic 10 mile round from Rydal or Ambleside taking in a number of high fells.

Ridges over Grasmere. A 10 mile walk over the undulating ridges enclosing Easedale Tarn and Grasmere.

Stone Arthur & Alcock Tarn. A hidden tarn and an inconvenient Wainwright are combined in a satisfying walk.

Dove Crag and Red Screes. Two long ridges from Ambleside full of interest and lovely views.

Seat Sandal. A 2,000 foot unrelenting climb is rewarded with superb views and a visit to Grisedale Tarn.

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.

Weather Forecast


Other Things to do

There is plenty for the non walker in or near Grasmere and 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.

Cruises on Windermere. Many visitors to Ambleside will want to take a steamer down Lake Windermere.

Places to Stay

Cottages in the Dales
  • Lucy says:

    Great site Jonathan, well set out with a nice variety of walks/things to do. I have been a frequent visitor to the Lakes for over 35 years. There is so much to do there and your site helped me to plan our next visit in a couple of days when I intend re-visit some of the areas I have not been to for many years. I have printed off some of your walks and will be trying them out.

    Thank you

  • Catherine says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Love your site and taking notes of your walks as we are having a long weekend in March.

    Thanks for doing this, it has proved helpful x

  • Barb says:

    Hi Jonathan

    I really like your site. Although I’ve been to the LD by car, I haven’t really done any longer walks around the area, but am going for a long weekend in March and have found your website really helpful and with some inspiring photographs and ideas.

    Just to let you know, there’s a typo above: William and Dorothy lived there for 10 years (not “10 tears”). I know how easy it is to hit the wrong key. Hope you don’t mind my pointing it out.

    Happy walking.

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