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Things to do at Stagshaw Garden and Ambleside

View from the ground up to the towering canopy of several tall fir trees, some with square labels on their trunks
The tallest grand fir in Cumbria, on the Champion Tree Trail, Skelghyll Woods | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Drink in the views from lofty peaks, stroll along lakeshore paths or go for a wander in the woodlands with these popular spots and walks in Ambleside. Discover the Roman fort down by the lakeside then make your way down to Stock Beck to have a look at Ambleside’s most curious relic: Bridge House.

A bridge crossing a stream at Stagshaw Garden, Ambleside, Cumbria.
A bridge crossing a stream at Stagshaw Garden, Ambleside | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

Escape to Stagshaw Garden

Just a short walk from Ambleside, this informal woodland garden is a welcome sanctuary from the hustle and bustle below. Sit and enjoy views out to the lake and fells beyond.

Created by Cubby Acland, a former National Trust land agent in 1957, the garden has an outstanding collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas as well as many other unusual trees and plants.

There are more than 300 shrubs set among the large native oak trees, and carpets of native daffodils and bluebells bursting into life in the spring. Look out for Cubby’s Painters’ Palette where he planted an array of camellias to represent an artist’s palette, complete with a thumb hole.

Getting to Stagshaw garden

There is a small car park just off the A591 at Waterhead, signposted Stagshaw Garden. Use LA22 0HE for satnav.

Dora's Field

This semi-open woodland, renowned for fine displays of bluebells and daffodils, was once owned by William Wordsworth. A relaxing wander around Dora’s Field or a sit-down on a bench is a lovely way to lose half an hour in Rydal.

Wordsworth bought this small plot of land in 1826 and later gave it to his daughter, Dora. When she tragically died, Wordsworth, his wife and their gardener planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs in her memory.

Getting to Dora's Field

Dora’s Field is approximately 1.5m north of Ambleside. Follow the A591 from Ambleside to Rydal. Dora’s Field is next to St Mary’s Church.

Visitors at Dora's Field, Cumbria in spring. This semi-open woodland, renowned for fine displays of bluebells and daffodils, was once owned by William Wordsworth.
Visitors at Dora's Field, Cumbria, in spring. It was once owned by William Wordsworth. | © ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Bridge House

Bridge House stands over Stock Beck in the middle of Ambleside as a quirky reminder of the town's past. One of the Lake District’s most famous buildings, Bridge House attracts thousands of visitors every year. Come and see this quaint 17th-century building, it has had many uses over the centuries, including housing a family of eight.

Walk & Talk of The Armitt and Bridge House every Thursday, 11.30am and 2.30pm. £8 includes admission to The Armitt, no advance booking required, simply arrive at the museum at least 10 minutes before the talk starts.

Getting to Bridge House

The closest parking is at Rydal Road car park (charges apply). Use LA22 9AY for satnav. On foot, turn right out of the car park and Bridge House is situated just a short walk along the pavement on the right. The Armitt is across the road from Bridge House, just past the mini roundabout on the right.

Discover a Roman fort

Uncover the history of the Roman fort in Ambleside that dates back to the 1st century. Imagine a bustling community during your visit to the remains on the shore of Lake Windermere.

Ambleside Roman Fort is open every day, all year round. It’s a popular spot for some peace and quiet in the town. The bustle of the crowd falls away as you wander across the fort site towards the head of the lake.

Getting to the Roman Fort

The closest car park is at Waterhead (charges apply). Use LA22 0ES for satnav. On foot, turn right out of Waterhead car park and cross the road. With the lake on your left follow the path through Borrans Park until you reach the gate for Ambleside Roman Fort.

Great walks around Ambleside and Windermere

Put the amble in Ambleside with these popular walks, whether you fancy an outdoor feast in lofty surroundings or an easily accessible lakeside park with perfect picnic spots.

Ambleside Champion Tree Trail
Discover some of the tallest trees in England on this 45-minute circular walk through Skelghyll Woods and take in the views from Jenkyn’s Crag. Follow the tree symbols and stop off at one of the many picnic benches for a breather and a tasty treat.Download the trail
Ambleside to Troutbeck and back via Wansfell
Visit the 17th-century Townend farmhouse and return to Ambleside via a more challenging route over Wansfell Pike. Wansfell boasts great views over the surrounding fells.Download the trail
Ambleside Common Wood Walk
Take a casual stroll through moss-covered oak trees and discover a variety of wildlife habitats, the babbling beck and coppiced hazel. Drink in the far-reaching views of Windermere from Common Wood.Download the trail
Post Knott, Windermere Views Walk
A short but steep climb takes you up to a variety of panoramic views of Windermere and the fells beyond, with plenty of resting places and potential picnic sites.Download the trail

Take to the waters

Whether you fancy a kayak, canoe or a good old-fashioned rowing boat, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Lake Windermere. For more information, please visit the Lake District website.

A group of walkers enjoying views over the valleys at Great Langdale

Discover more at Stagshaw Garden and Ambleside

Find out how to get to Stagshaw Garden and Ambleside, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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