Standing at the north end of Lake Windermere is Ambleside. As a market town, Ambleside found itself in an excellent position, being both on the main route through the Lake District, and at the junction of several valleys; a feature which makes it a great base for exploring the southern Lakes today. The advantages of the location were recognised as early as the 1st Century AD as the Romans established a fort here, close to the head of the lake at Waterhead.
Ambleside’s most famous house is also its smallest. Bridge House is one of Lakeland’s iconic buildings and stands beside the main road heading north out of the town. Its origins are a little obscure but it seems to have been built in the 17th Century by a local family, partly as a bridge into their orchards, and partly as a store for the apples. It has had many uses over the centuries, at one point even serving as a home for a family of eight!
Ambleside has several great walks right on its doorstep, and perhaps the easiest is to Stockghyll Force. This is one of the area’s most beautiful waterfalls, and is less than a mile east of the town on a very easy path.
The hill which rises above Stockghyll Force is Wansfell Pike (height 482m). Although this is a short, steep path to the summit, there are impressive views down over Windermere and the valleys to the west. For a longer walk it is possible to extend this route by crossing the summit and descending to Troutbeck, then returning to Ambleside by Robin Lane and Jenkin Crag.