Ambleside is a town in Cumbria, in North West England historically within the county of Westmorland. It is located not too far off the city of Windermere at the head of Windermere and within the Lake District National Park. The “mere” in Windermere here means a long, thin lake, which is also England’s largest lake.
Many regular public bus services serve the roads running along the lake directly, you have a choice of taking the bus from the Windermere rail station or a river cruise across the lake. We took both with a 20 minute bus ride from the train station to the lakeside pier at Bowness-on-Windermere, followed by the boat ride. The pier side is the southern most tip of the lake, which is also a popular spot for picnic goers, parades and tourist like us alike. Many food stalls line the dock sides offering a variety of refreshments by the pier. We had ice cream to cool ourselves down after our climb earlier in the day, and it just gets better with a river cruise across UK’s largest lake.
Operated by the Windermere lakecruises company, the river cruise is rather afforable £7, we took a return trip to Ambleside, with the last ferry leaving about 5pm back to Bowness. The ride was a narrated nice relaxing river cruise across the water body, passing through few historical sights along the lake. There are several camping spots along the banks of the lake as we come to learn about, not to mention several summer camp grounds too. The lake is not only a spot for tourist, but a popular recreational site for the locals as well, power boating, rowing and sailing are common sports seen. The weather for the day was clear and fantastic, offering long distant views of the lake.
The sight of the Lake house by the pier signaled our arrival at Ambleside. We were greeted by the enthusiastic locals residing at the docks. The dock is built near a sandy beach area, with many chill out places to boot too. We consulted the friendly staff at the nearby tourist information center for the location of a known waterfall we intended visiting in the area. They were very helpful in pointing out the location to walk, using the a large topographical map in the shop for illustration. I was able to grasp the location after noting few notable landmarks in the area, with the rest depending much of my past topographical skills in the army and my trusty iPhone compass to set us in the right direction.
It was not long after where we started navigating our way along Lake road, towards the Stockghyll passing many open fields and tent camping sites. We eventually reached the main town pass Churchill arms and hotel where you can catch the buzzes of activity within the town itself. There is even an electric shuttle which ferries visitors between the pier and the town itself, not that we actually needed that!
We finally came to this particular spot, called Market lane which is home to many food stores, bookshops and outdoor stores selling items and postcards, reaffirming the place as a nature getaway attraction with much too see. Jokingly, so even if you come unprepared on the sights to visit, all you can do is simply just check out the postcards in the local gift shops and you can roughly expect the very same nature sights within the vicinity.
The entrance to StockGill force is a small road leading up the hills behind the town from Stockghyll place. A that point of time, it’s a detour off the main road by a pub and Natwest bank. There you will pass through a long shaded road (Stockghyll lane) through some residential areas before hitting the reserve’s main entrance. This road also runs parallel to a small river, where several houses are built alongside too, the fast flowing water here affirms the presence of a high water body in the area, such as a waterfall. You can never get tried of trekking in the temperate forests, the air is just so fresh and cool you will be just so tempted to stay inside for as long as you can. We followed a trail regularly demarcated with little pointer arrows through the forest, the place is maintained by the council and features several resting spots such as benches and safety railing where the trail overhangs a ravine.
Based on consulted local knowledge, we won’t be expecting much of a waterfall at the site, we might be lucky if we can see a water trickle during this dry and hot period in summer. Otherwise, we might stand a better chances catching the falls just after winter where all the highland snow are melting, which will make it pretty much of a gusher at that time of the year.
However, with some light rain few days ago, we were in luck- The falls were not dry at all and it was not that bad. The waterfall, though not totally the biggest I’ve seen was flowing with an omph more than a trickle. At least it’s a consolation for the long trek up the forest for the sight. The water fall comes down in 2 or 3 stages, over deep rocky ravine spanning over a 20 meter drop, thereafter it flows as a small river downstream.
Not too far off downstream on our way back is small wooden bridge spanning the stream which serves to link the forest trail in a loop around the waterfall and back to where we came from. The stream side is an area of complete tranquility, a perfect place for relaxing and meditation which ample open areas and flat rocks to busk in the openness and serene sound of the soft flowing river, birds chirping, and trees rustlings win the winds in the background. It was pure zen.
I was surprised how clear the water is too as well, you can literally see through the fresh water stream right into the stream bed as well. You can actually taste the pureness, well not that I actually tried drinking the water! We started on our walk back to the market place where we checked out the local stores in produce in the area (namely local art, book shops and outdoor shops). The town is also known for their rich local collection of desserts and chocolates, things the lake district is known for as well.
With time to spare, we made our way back along Lake road to the Ambleside pier head beach to busk and appreciate on the beach front before catching our cruise return trip back to Bowness-on-Windereme. Despite it being out the late afternoon, the summer sun is still out and shining offering fantastic views of the beach and the reflective lake in the distant background, the sights just look simply look postcard-like unreal.
Our return trip on the ferry took a different route, allowing us to catch different sights of the lake, such as the various hilltop houses and mansion seen dotted all along the lakeside mountains. It was not long till our ferry arrived for our trip back to Windermere. We arrived with some time to spare on the dock sides, greeted literally by a swarm of invading swans. We didn’t recall seeing them on our departure, but they all seem to amass right on the pier front on the late afternoon, it was a swan-tastic sight of white to behold. You can check out the Ambleside photo gallery for more pictures of the ferry journey and swan onslaught.
We continued our tour of Bowness on Windermere, exploring the town we passed-by on our journey to the pier earlier in the day. We remembered seeing my good eateries and pubs in the area, intending to find a eating spot or pub to call the night. It was there where we took the opporutnity to check out the various attractions around the area such as the Peter Rabbit display and few shopping areas around town. The town is a self-sufficient with a healthy collection of markets and services.
We were spoilt for choices on eating places, but we could not settle on one to eat. After all, they were not exactly affordable either, as we come to release after scouting around for awhile. We initially intended to take a walk back to our inn, but we decided we took a bus back to the railway station instead due to time constraints, after all we intended to catch a World cup match at a pub after dinner.
Few in the group craved Chinese food, so we settled for dinner at a Chinese restaurant before heading to a nearby pub for few drinks over the US vs England Worldcup match. Goal!
You can check out more great views on Ambleside in it’s own photo gallery here.