Grasmere & Ambleside

Jonathan’s View

“Poetry made popular in Wordsworth country”

The popular villages of Grasmere & Ambleside lie on the poplar central spine of the Lake District. Both villages (and neighbouring 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 particularly becoming 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 whereas Ambleside is, to me, a little over commercialised and much less attractive. However for those venturing outside the villages it is easy to discover the real Lake District which 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 should be included in any Lakeland visit. 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.

Grasmere is a very pretty village made famous by the poet William Wordsworth who lived in Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount 200 years ago. 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 also a fine art gallery featuring a 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 trap all year. 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 but really Ambleside marks the southern end of the high mountains.

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 find accommodation but a visit to another of the Wordsworth homes, Rydal Mount, is a very popular trip.

Away from the busy A591 there are two pretty villages, Elterwater and Chapel Stile in the Langdale valley. 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 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

The Old Vicarage, Ambleside

Rooms at the Apple Pie, Ambleside

Smallwood House Hotel, Ambleside

Ambleside Backpackers

Colwith Cottage, Langdale

Cuckoo’s Nest, Ambleside

Goody Bridge Cottages, Grasmere

Cottages in the Dales



  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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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