The Lake District

Find out about our local area


Ambleside is the hub, bang in the middle of the Lake District and a really good jumping off point for virtually anywhere in Cumbria, making The Old Vic an ideal Lake District B&B! The Lake District National Park is an adventure playground for those who love outdoor activities and a dream world for those who simply want to tour around taking in the views.

The Lake District National Park was designated in early 1951 and is the largest National Park in England encompassing Scafell Pike (the highest peak in England), Wastwater (the deepest lake) and Windermere (the longest lake). Is Tarn Hows the most photographed beauty spot in the Lake District? You’ll have to decide for yourself but a trip to Tarn Hows is surely a must when you’re staying at the Old Vicarage in Ambleside.

The mountains [fells] and lakes form a unique landscape that poets [such as Wordsworth, Coleridge & John Ruskin] and writers [such as Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome & Alfred Wainwright] have found their inspiration.And don’t forget Postman Pat (and his black and white cat), created by John Cunliffe and set in the Lake District. Visitors can easily follow in their footsteps or simply wander out of our Ambleside B&B, leave the car in our car park and head for the hills.

You won’t be disappointed by the shopping opportunities; Ambleside may be small but there is a wide range of interesting, individual and boutique-style shops mainly run by independent retailers. As you’d expect there’s a plethora of walking and outdoors type retail options, art galleries and local craft & book shops in Ambleside.Most shops in Ambleside are open 7 days a week. There’s a wonderful array of pubs, inns, cafes and restaurants to keep your inner self satisfied. You can wander down to the pier to catch a boat down the lake to Bowness or Lakeside, or you can catch an up to date movie in one of the 3 small and very stylish multi screen cinemas. You can spend happy hours browsing around one of the most successful garden centres in the UK or sit in the park and watch the world go by.

Ambleside is set in the most breath-taking scenery which can be enjoyed from a boat or from the top of the fells – the views of Lake Windermere or of the Langdales are truly stunning, so remember to bring your camera.

Grasmere and Windermere are very close by and the popular tourist towns of Coniston, Hawkshead and Keswick are only a short drive away. Use the side menu to explore the areas further.

Other Local Towns


Big-grasmere-pic-A few miles away, a short trip by car or bus is Grasmere. Made famous by Wordsworth, who lived there for 14 years and described it as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.”

Like Ambleside, Grasmere also has it’s sports day. Grasmere Sports was first held in 1852 and is a big event in the village’s calendar, drawing visitors from far and wide.

The annual Grasmere ‘Rushbearing’ ceremony goes back even further in terms of traditions, and of particular note is the annual village procession with all sorts going on – you’ll see (& hear) choirs and brass bands, but look out for the six ‘maids of honour’ decorated with rushes and flowers.

Grasmere is a pleasant village, small but perfectly formed, it’s great for a day visit and makes for a lovely circular walk from our Ambleside B & B. Stop off for lunch while you’re there or pick up some Grasmere Gingerbread.

Big-Hawkshead-picHawkshead is situated a short drive from our Ambleside B&B at the northern tip of Esthwaite Water, to the west of Lake Windermere and the east of Coniston Water. It’s location has made it a real honeypot for visiting tourists who wish to explore water based activities, climb the fells or simply mooch around the galleries, shops and local pubs.

Hawkshead is probably the most charming of Cumbrian villages and it’s a little like stepping back in time. Its very old buildings and quaint churches assure you of seeing something interesting around every corner.

This village is a definite day trip contender from our Ambleside B&B and remember that gentler strolls tend to be found along the lakeside if you prefer low level walking. There are various places to hire bikes in Ambleside so why not hire a mountain bike in Ambleside and cycle over to Hawkshead?

Big-keswick-pic-Keswick is a haven for walkers and climbers to enjoy the northern fells and is only about a 25 minute drive from Ambleside. Keswick is a bustling market town , particularly on market day when the world comes to visit. Keswick is also the home to Keswick Brewery, if you like real ale then you should definitely give it a try?

It bustles even more during it’s festival times, when beer, jazz, walking and film are amongst its main attractions. For the super-fit, there’s an excellent half marathon held annually and wonderful strolls around Derwentwater or Bassenthwaite Lake.

Keswick is also home to many Visitor Attractions, including the Theatre by the Lake, Honister Slate Mine, Cumberland Pencil Museum and the enchanting Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Big-windermere-pic-Windermere is perhaps the most famous of Lake District towns and is only a few miles from our Ambleside B&B by road. You can even take the boat to Bowness if you’re not in any particular hurry. The town gets it’s name from England’s largest lake; Windermere.

Strangely the town of Windermere is not directly on the lake – this claim to fame has been adopted by Bowness-on-Windermere which is very popular and can get very busy. The two towns are, in fact, joined – it’s unlikely that the average tourist would spot the difference when driving between the two!

As well as the lake cruises, there is the Beatrix Potter Attraction, Windermere Steamboat Museum (currently undergoing a £10 million refurb), Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House and Holehird Gardens (described by some as,” a Special Lakeland Garden!”

Definitely worth a look – go by boat, enjoy the scenery on the way down and then head for one of the cosy bars or restaurants in Bowness or Windermere. Just don’t miss the boat back [though you could return on the open top bus!].

Big-coniston-pic-A very pleasant drive (and not too long) takes you to Coniston. Whether you intend to walk up Coniston Old Man or maybe take the steam yacht Gondola across Coniston Water to visit Brantwood (John Ruskin’s Home), Coniston will certainly be worth a trip out from the Old Vicarage at Ambleside.

Donald Campbell and Bluebird are forever linked with the Lake, check out the Museum, and Beatrix Potter’s Hill-Top is close by. Did you see the movie “Miss Potter” with Renee Zellweger in the title role or “Accross the Lake” with Anthony Hopkins as Donald Campbell?