Ambleside - in the Lake District.
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Ambleside. One of the most popular towns in the Lake District, and with good reason, Ambleside is unquestionably a town that you should visit.
Charming side streets reveal the picturesque vernacular architecture of the area, so much more pleasing and characterful than the grander styles of the average city.
The Lake District is noted for the green slate used in the construction of many of its buildings.
There are many and varied shops to be found in the town that the visitor will find of interest. There are of course some fine pubs and restaurants to offer sustenance after a hard day spent shopping/walking/hiking/messing about on boats (Lake Windermere is on the southern edge of the town).
Ambleside nestles in the valley just a short walk from Lake Windermere and makes a very charming picture when seen from the road through the fells to Kirkstone Pass high above the town to the north, providing a majestic panorama.
When viewed from the foot of the town the dramatic Snarker Pike, (2096ft/639m), to the north and the Hundreds to the east make an impressive backdrop.
These fells provide excellent walking and hiking for those with the required stamina, or if you want a more relaxed amble the walks around the lake would offer the perfect answer.
There are of course many more walks around the nearby countryside.
The Lake District is one of, if not the premier walking regions in Britain and has a great many routes through some of the most dramatic scenery in the world.
The majority of the town is built with local green slate making for the unique look of the Lake District. Although not in the local building style St. Mary's Church is also worth a mention, designed by the legendary Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1850-1854 in his typical neo-gothic style.
Sir George Gilbert Scott - architect of St.Pancras Station and Hotel and the Albert Memorial in London among others in a distinguished career.
As well as being noteworthy for its looks the church also has an interesting interior with a chapel dedicated to that quintessential Lakeland poet, Wordsworth, and a wall painting by Gordon Ransom depicting the Ambleside Rush Bearing festival.
Rush Bearing: a traditional festival held in many towns in Cumbria and the north of England, involving a procession through the town. Historically the festival was to replace the rushes covering the church floor.
Ambleside is undoubtedly an enjoyable town to visit, with many high quality shops and restaurants, a cinema and a great variety of shops and activities both on and off the Lake.
The Lake incidentally has a regular ferry service running its length down to Lakeside, (which has a steam railway that runs to Haverthwaite), calling at Bowness on Windermere on the way.
Ambleside: a short history: top
Ambleside dates back to the early years of the Roman occupation of Britain, (approximately AD80). The site of the Roman fort, 'Galava', lies just off Borrans Road near the north shore of Lake Windermere.
After the Romans left in about AD406 Ambleside entered the 'Dark Ages'. Not until approximately 900 with the invasion of the Vikings did Ambleside gain its name as the town began to have some local importance.
Ambleside, then as now, was a fairly prosperous little town. It did not suffer in the way that many of the county's towns did at the hands of the raiding Scots, and even escaped the successive Plagues.
The establishment of a market (a charter being given in 1650), added to the town's modest affluence, and a successful trade developed in cloth, bark, corn and paper.
A bobbin mill was powered by the water rushing down Stockghyll Force from the Fairfield Horseshoe, the range of mountains encompassing Ambleside's northern horizon. There were at one time twelve mills in the town.
The interest in the Lake District generated by the 'Lake Poets' Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge led by the mid Victorian times to established tourist trade bringing in increasing numbers of visitors to Ambleside and Lake Windermere.
This new source of income brought a fundamental change in the town's character and future economic make up.
Before the growth of tourism the town like most in Cumbria of a similar size would have been relatively isolated from outside influence and probably by modern standards quite introverted, the main sources of income began to come from those trades associated with tourism.
The more traditional industries were beginning to die out anyway so the new business was most provident.