Some people describe Ambleside as a large village and some a small town. Either way it has many interesting features and is surrounded by outstanding natural beauty. It is one of the very few places where traditional Cumbrian sports are held in the summer. Also in the summer there is still the annual rush-bearing procession and service, and at the end of November the crowds gather to see the lantern procession which culminates in the lighting of the Christmas lights.
To return to the twenty-first century, there is a comfortable cinema which regularly offers a good choice of films to suit a wide variety of tastes and ages. For the energetic, mountain bikes can be hired on a daily basis. There is a modest sports field for tennis and crazy golf and an adventure play park for children.
During the summer a horse drawn cab runs between Ambleside and the head of the lake which many visitors enjoy as a prelude to a trip down Lake Windermere on one of the many steamers which call at Waterhead. There is a reduced timetable for lake journeys out of high season.
There is a museum which often has exhibits connected with Beatrix Potter. Her devotees may also notice that her husband's firm of solicitors, Gatey Heelis, is still practising in offices close to the famous and much photographed Bridge House. Also, a plaque marks the building at the top of Church Street where William Wordsworth, in his capacity as postmaster, sold penny stamps.
Local Food Shops
Spar & Co-op - both pretty comprehensive. Spar stays open until 10pm. Granny Smiths - fruit, veg and wholefoods. Ambleside now also has a Tesco. Apple Pie Eating House - prize winning bread and cakes. Filled rolls are very substantial picnic fare. Claytons and Garsides are the two butchers' shops where local meat and Cumberland sausages can be bought.
Other Shops in Ambleside
Thomas Bell - well stocked, fascinating independent chemist shop founded in 1835. Helpful pharmacist who will give advice. Interesting collection of old flasks, jars and bottles. Ghyllside Cycles - bicycle hire, including tandems. Repairs, sales of bikes and kit, advice on cycle routes for families as well as experienced mountain bikers. Ambleside Jewellers - lots of stock including clocks and watches. Reasonable prices.
The Bridge House
The Bridge House is a distinctive and much loved feature of Ambleside. It was build by the Braithwaite Family in the 17th-century to access their land on the other side of the Stock Ghyll, as well as to store apples from their orchards. Over the centuries its had many other uses including a cobbler’s, chair maker’s, tea-room and even a family home. It is now owned by the National Trust.