Arrival into Lake District at Ambleside and day trip to Hawkshead and Coniston

Ambleside Travel Blog

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Leaving Euston station, London early morning at 645a

My second night in London was better than the first - either the snorers didn't snore or I was just way too tired to notice! Got ready by about 540am, the taxi was waiting by the YHA and we were in Euston station around 615a. I'd passed by tons of "Delice de France" bakery chains in London on various occasions before but never quite tasted any of their stuff before dismissing it as fatty and unhealthy. Anyway, I was hungry this time and grabbed their cheese-tomato baguette. It's quite good! Of course that's a given, but they add a hint of basil leaves as well to that, it's really very very tasty. Had that, and a bit of the chocolate croissant for my breakfast along with tea. My England trip seems to be converting me into a tea addict.

Taken on the train to Windermere
I seem to order it wherever I go...!

The train left on time, the first time I'm going on Virgin Trains and I was very impressed. I sat in the Silent Coach, and surprise surprise - it was quiet! The train ride took about 2.5 hours to Oxenholme, and from there we caught another train to Windermere. The train ride was magnificent. We were near Milton Keynes when the sun started rising. The mist was still all around the trees, it was magnificent. And you can also see the change in scenery as you go up north. From the nicely manicured fields of the South, you gradually transition into the rugged and dramatic north - more green, more rain, and I'm officially a fan of the stone fences all over Britain. How are they made with such precision? And how are they so strong?!

Now, another thing with my journey north - it gets colder, windier and wetter.

Taken on the train to Windermere
But the best was yet to come after we alit from our train, and boarded the open end double decker bus to take us to Ambleside. The 15 minute journey was amazing - wet, misty, mysterious... the last time I felt this intrigued and speechless with nature and it's stillness was when I rode the ferry to Victoria (Vancouver Island) in May, and earlier was perhaps the Milford Sound experience in New Zealand. We reached Ambleside a little after 11am, it was drizzling and something told me I was going to enjoy the rain, although my friend, totally pampered by the Californian sunshine had started commenting "is it always like this here?!".

I was just happy I was back at the Lake District. I visited this place in 2005, we stopped over in Bowness Bay and spent a night in Ambleside and I have really nice memories of the morning walk I took.

Bus ride from Windermere to Ambleside
I had decided then itself that I didn't spend enough time here, and that I have to come back. And come back, I did. Read any book on England they rave about this place, I guess it's one thing building expectations based on what people say, but another to get a taster a few years ago, something that leaves you wanting more.

Ambleside YHA - well what can be said? The building, I had seen 3 years ago, infact we (the backpacker tour I was on) had our dinner in the park right across the hostel, and I remember thinking that I should stay in that hostel some day. So I was really fortunate that I got to stay here this time. The hostel review will follow shortly. We stored our luggage, and headed for Ambleside city centre for lunch. This was the same road I had walked on (from the Lake uphill to the city) back in 2005.

Bus ride from Windermere to Ambleside
... the first thing that strikes you about this place is why it's such a popular holiday destination amongst the Brits. It's got high hills, deep lakes, the clouds seem like they're just 6 ft above you, it's very green and untamed and colourful (autumn leaves) and about every house in town is a B&B. The buildings - all grey colour lead up to the hill, some of the buildings have bright colours painted on them...it's just a very nice town centre.

We were both very hungry, so we found Tagore, a Bangladeshi restaurant although it's proudly displayed as "Bengal cuisine", wonder why! We had naan, palak paneer and tadka dhal - the food was terribly oily and not made that good. But we were so hungry I guess anything goes! We finished lunch around 1pm, and headed back to the hostel/pier to actually begin our day.

View of Lake Windermere from the Ambleside YHA
We bought a 1 way ticket on the ferry to Bowness Bay, and from there to Hawkshead and Coniston.

The lake cruise was very impressive. This is a totally side of England than what I saw in Cotswolds. And as I've mentioned so many times before, the autumn colours only add to the beauty. The ride was a bit chilly, but the weather was good, not too sunny but definitely no rain. I took lots of pictures as the boat was leaving Ambleside, but the rest of the lake trip was very meh, definitely not as good as the books say it is.

We reached Bowness Bay in about 1 hour, and from there caught another boat headed towards Coniston and Hawkshead.

The Ambleside YHA - my home for 3 days
The little bus drives you via Hill Top Farm where the Beatrix Potter Museum is, although I didn't seem too particularly fond with this and so decided not to visit it. We got down at Hawkshead which I must say is quite a charming little town. It's really really little. As in, a walk around the village won't last for more than an hour, but like I noticed back in my May trip to St.Ives, this little town is also filled with art galleries and stores selling portraits. They've got a gorgeous Church, set atop a hill and overlooks the Lake District green. Very impressive. Again, sort of reminded me of the hilly church in St.Ives.

From here, the bus took us to Coniston which was a big bore. But I was dead peckish and headed in to have some cream tea. The town is really bland, and the only draw here is the Old Man of Coniston, but we couldn't hike up there as it was dead late.

Lake Windermere
Mind you, the YHA has got some great hostels here, but I really wasn't too impressed with it overall.

We headed back to Ambleside, bought some groceries along the way (fresh veg) and I made some Indian food for the night. The hostel has all the amenities, no complaints there. Just that it's so big and commercial and the 1st time I've stayed in a YHA that I have felt I'm staying at a hostel. Too many big groups, such a big hostel that it's hard to find a cosy corner in the lounge and get to socialise with people. Our roommates were 3 Belgians and they were good fun. Each had come with this girlfriend who was in other girls-rooms. They were just telling us about their lives, their work, etc.

Slept htat night around 11pm. I wasn't too tired thankfully, just bloody excited about starting some proper hikes the next day. They had forecast some rain, but that is something I had expected anyway, so I wasn't too disappointed.

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Leaving Euston station, London ear…
Leaving Euston station, London ea…
Taken on the train to Windermere
Taken on the train to Windermere
Taken on the train to Windermere
Taken on the train to Windermere
Bus ride from Windermere to Ambles…
Bus ride from Windermere to Amble…
Bus ride from Windermere to Ambles…
Bus ride from Windermere to Amble…
View of Lake Windermere from the A…
View of Lake Windermere from the …
The Ambleside YHA - my home for 3 …
The Ambleside YHA - my home for 3…
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
Walking towards Ambleside city cen…
Walking towards Ambleside city ce…
Ambleside city centre
Ambleside city centre
Walking towards Ambleside city cen…
Walking towards Ambleside city ce…
View of the Ambleside YHA whilst o…
View of the Ambleside YHA whilst …
Bowness Bay
Bowness Bay
Bowness Bay
Bowness Bay
Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
at Hawkshead
at Hawkshead
at Hawkshead
at Hawkshead
at Hawkshead
at Hawkshead
Coniston
Coniston
Ambleside
photo by: Vikram