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Subject: Cumbria, List of museums in Cumbria, St Martin's College, Lake District, Brathay Exploration Group
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Rydal Road, Ambleside town centre
Ambleside is located in Cumbria
 Ambleside shown within Cumbria
Population 2,600 
OS grid reference
Civil parish Lakes
District South Lakeland
Shire county Cumbria
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LA22
Dialling code 015394
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Westmorland and Lonsdale
List of places

Ambleside is a town in Cumbria, in North West England. Historically within the county of Westmorland, it is situated at the head of Windermere, England's largest lake. The town is within the Lake District National Park.


  • Background 1
  • Climate 2
  • History 3
  • Buildings 4
    • Bridge House 4.1
    • University of Cumbria 4.2
    • St Mary's Church 4.3
    • Mater Amabilis 4.4
    • Pubs 4.5
  • Mountain rescue 5
  • Location grid 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Ambleside is administered by South Lakeland District Council and forms part of the Lakes civil parish but from 1894 to 1935 it was a separate urban district council.

Steamers (in reality diesel-powered ferries) run to Bowness-on-Windermere and Lakeside offering fine views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Ambleside is a base for hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking. It has a number of hotels, guest houses, pubs and restaurants as well as shops. In particular, there are a number of shops selling equipment for walkers and climbers in the town.

Ambleside is also home to the headquarters of Brathay Exploration Group, a youth charity based just beyond Clappersgate on the road to Hawkshead.

The album CSI:Ambleside, by Birkenhead-based band Half Man Half Biscuit, is named after the town.


Ambleside features an oceanic climate.

Climate data for Ambleside (60m asl, averages 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.8
Average low °C (°F) 1.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 231.0
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 18.9 14.6 16.1 12.7 12.4 11.6 12.8 14.7 14.0 18.9 18.3 16.0 180.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 46.6 61.0 90.4 132.8 159.5 154.0 149.0 136.1 99.4 73.1 47.7 45.1 1,194.7
Source: [1]


The town's name is derived from the Old Norse "Á-mel-sǽtr" which literally translates as "river – sandbank – summer pasture".

To the south of Ambleside is the Roman fort of Galava, dating from AD 79.[2]

In 1650 the town was granted a charter[3] to hold a market. In the reign of James II, another charter was granted for the town to collect tolls.[4] The town's Market Place became the commercial centre for agriculture and the wool trade. The old packhorse trail between Ambleside and Grasmere was the main route between the two towns before the new turnpike road was completed in 1770. Smithy Brow at the end of the trail was where pack ponies were re-shod after their journey. With the coming of the turnpikes, the packhorse trains were superseded by horse-drawn stagecoaches, which regularly travelled between Keswick and Kendal via Ambleside.[5]

William Wordsworth worked in Ambleside, as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland, from 1813, while living at Rydal Mount in the nearby village of Rydal.[6] This government position induced Shelley to write a sonnet of mild reprimand, To Wordsworth, but it gave Wordsworth the financial security to pursue his poetry. In 1842, he became the Poet Laureate and resigned his office as Stamp Distributor.[6]

The railway engineer Edward Bury and his wife Priscilla Susan Bury lived at Ambleside.

The Armitt Library and Museum provides a source of local history with a collection which represents many of the local artists and writers of the past.

Ambleside & District Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1903. The club disappeared in the late 1950s. [7]

The German artist Kurt Schwitters lived in Ambleside for two years until his death in 1947. He had been interned in the Isle of Man during the World War II after moving to England to escape the Nazis.


Bridge House

Bridge House in 2009

Bridge House was built over Stock Ghyll more than 300 years ago, probably as a summer house and apple store for Ambleside Hall. It was purchased by local people in 1926 and given to the National Trust. Listed Grade I, the building is now used as an information centre for the National Trust, and is part of the Trust's Windermere and Troutbeck property.[8] [9]

Lewis Pinhorn Wood's The Cobbler's Shop on the Bridge

The building was depicted by the Victorian landscapist Lewis Pinhorn Wood (1848-1918) in his late 19th century work The Cobbler's Shop on the Bridge.

University of Cumbria

The Ambleside campus of the University of Cumbria, formerly St. Martin's College and Charlotte Mason College, is at the northern end of the town; courses held at the campus include Conservation, Forestry, and Outdoor Studies.

On 1 December 2009, it was announced that the Ambleside campus would be 'mothballed' at the end of July 2010, and would no longer take new undergraduate students. The closure was in the face of fierce opposition from the Ambleside students,[10] the townspeople of Ambleside, and in spite of support pledged from Tim Farron, MP for the campus and its students.[11][12][13]

In July 2011, the university announced a plan to reopen the campus and increase student numbers at the Ambleside campus beginning in 2014.[14]

In September 2014, the newly refurbished campus was reopened to welcome students on courses ideally situated in this setting in the heart of the Lake District.

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church

A shared Church of England and Methodist church. Prior to the 17th century the dead of Ambleside were buried at Gothic Revival style.[16] Notable features include its stone spire, an unusual feature in Westmorland churches,[16] which makes the church the tallest building in the town.[17] There is a mural depicting rushbearing (a ceremony which is held on the first Saturday in July). The mural was created during the Second World War when the Royal College of Art was based in Ambleside.[18][19] The vicar of Ambleside, Henry Adamson Thompson, is depicted on the right hand side of the mural. [20] [21] Both he, and his only son, Henry Lionel Francess Thompson — who was killed in WW2 — are buried in close proximity to each other in the church's cemetery. [22]

Mater Amabilis

The Catholic Church of Mater Amabilis is on Wansfell Road, part of the Ambleside one-way system. Until September 2013 it was part of the Combined Parish of Ambleside and Grasmere; but upon the retirement of Rev Fr David Duanne (the Parish Priest) it joined with the Parish of St Herbert's Windermere, with the parish priest Rev Fr Kevan Dorgan of Windermere moving into the adjoining house in Ambleside and services in Grasmere discontinuing.


Ambleside has many pubs for its size: there are some ten pubs and bars within a quarter-mile radius. They are supported by the tourist industry, so essential to the town, as well as the student population associated with the University of Cumbria.

Mountain rescue

The town maintains one of the busiest volunteer mountain rescue teams in Great Britain: The Langdale & Ambleside MRT.

Ambleside (centre-left) and the nearby village of Waterhead (right) as viewed looking East from Loughrigg Fell.

Location grid


  1. ^ "Ambleside climate information". Met Office. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Retrieved on 7 February 2008
  3. ^ Ambleside OnLine – a local history
  4. ^
  5. ^ "History of Ambleside". Golakes. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Wordsworth's Stamp Office, Ambleside, Cumbria.
  7. ^ “Ambleside & District Golf Club”, “Golf’s Missing Links”.
  8. ^ Bridge House – Information from a notice at Bridge House.
  9. ^ "Name: BRIDGE HOUSE List entry Number: 1245148". English Heritage. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Facebook Petition Group".  
  11. ^ "MP recruits new students in fight to save Ambleside campus".  
  12. ^ "MP takes Ambleside campaign to Westminster".  
  13. ^ "MP asks new Vice Chancellor of University Cumbria to scrap plans to downgrade Ambleside campus".  
  14. ^ Eve, Kelly (28 September 2011). "Cumbria university plan to reopen mothballed Ambleside campus".  
  15. ^ Ambleside
  16. ^ a b St Mary’s Church
  17. ^ Bingham, Roger (2011). "Guide book reveals".  
  18. ^ "Church of St Mary".  
  19. ^ Leslie Duxbury (2008), Bohemians in Exile: The Royal College of Art in Ambleside, 1940-1945. "Bohemians in Exile" was also the title of a 2011 exhibition at the Armitt Museum.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^¬if_t=like&actorid=1453201640

External links

  • Ambleside Community & Tourist Information
  • Windermere and Troutbeck (including Bridge House) information at the National Trust
  • Ambleside Photographs On the Ambleside, Cumbria website.
  • Ambleside Sports
  • The Windermere Way – a walking route that goes right around the lake.
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