The Lake district’s Ambleside: an unexpected hidden world

It’s not the most exotic or tropical location in the world, yet it radiates an overwhelming sense of natural beauty.

I was lucky enough to visit Ambleside at the end of last October, just before the second lockdown was announced on Halloween.

I was only there for four days, but with the amount we pact in it felt like much longer. Day one was initially spent casually walking into the town centre looking for the waterfalls this area was known for. Little did we know that a couple of hours later we would be climbing a hill that showed no warning for drastic temperature changes or the result in wobbly legs.

Before we were met with the height of Wansfell peak, we came across the waterfalls hidden in what looked like the dictionary definition of autumn. Oranges, reds, and yellows drenched the woodland floor, as well as clinging to the branches before they dropped. The faintness of the pouring water grew louder and louder before it ran away down the stream and through the centre of town. We had to cross running streams, and walk over dainty wooden bridges as well as climbing over huge tree roots and rocks that sprouted out of nowhere.

We eventually emerged from the woodland clearing onto a back road that revealed a stile into a field. With a why not attitude, we decided to climb over and begin the ascend, that turned out to be Wansfell peak.

It started in a very civilised, meandering way, taking pictures here and there stopping to look at the vast views- this soon changed. It became clear this wasn’t something you did half-heartedly as people passed with hiking sticks and waterproofs. Nevertheless, we all persevered and once we could see the top the drive to continue became dominant.

However, to my great disappointment what we thought was the top was in fact just perception playing with our minds. At that point I decided to call it a day, satisfied with my own achievement, myself and a few others in my group began the descent down.

(The thought of a hot chocolate and a sausage roll at the end of the climb down was good encouragement.)

You wouldn’t usually associate the Lake District with its cuisine, but it’s definitely worth mentioning The Apple Pie Cafe and Bakery, because yum! With a choice of spiced apple pie or classic, you then choose what it’s served with: cream, custard, or ice cream. Et Voila, your perfect apple pie.

Then, about a 15 min drive down the road, the village Grasmere is home to a gingerbread shop that has been making gingerbread everyday since 1854! It’s impossible to miss with a constant queue of customers and the smell of butter surrounding the building.

There seemed to be pathways and lanes dotted around everywhere, that would eventually lead to a field with grazing cattle, a running stream, and a vast view of lake Windermere that somehow shocked me every time I saw it.

I think the most surprising element to the trip was the friendliness of the people. I knew before going that there was some scepticism about people travelling to the Lake district to escape coronavirus, evidently bringing it with them in some cases. However, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. One of the small retail owners in particular showed genuine interest in whether I was having a good trip and if I’d be likely to come visit Ambleside and the lakes again- I assured him that I definitely would!


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Phoebe Lucas

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October 2021
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