The Canine Guide to Ambleside holiday cottages

Towns and cities

The Canine Guide to Ambleside

Clare Willcocks 19 October 2020

The small, unassuming town of Ambleside, sitting at the north end of Lake Windermere, has become one of the most well-loved bases for visitors to the Lake District. Surrounded by stunning scenery, it is a playground for adventurers, both human and dog!

dog by Lake Windermere

Besides the attractions in town, Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells and mountains offer an enticing array of dog walks, the likes of which your hound has only dreamt about! Think crashing waterfalls, scent-filled woodland trails and awe-inspiring views – all reachable on foot from Ambleside.

So, if you’re ready to experience the best of dog-friendly Ambleside with your faithful friend, settle back with a cuppa and a dog biccy for Fido and be inspired by our top pup-picks.

Run on ahead…
🐶 Top attractions
🐾 Top walkies
🍴 Top dining spots 
🏡 Top places to stay

Top dog-friendly attractions in Ambleside

Muncaster Castle

Ambleside is in a fantastic spot for exploring the dog-friendly attractions of the Lake District. More or less right in the middle of the national park, you can head out in any direction for no end of doggy days out, including jumping aboard the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, exploring Muncaster Castle grounds, wandering through Grizedale Forest and enjoying cruises on Coniston Water, Ullswater and Derwentwater.

Don’t be too quick to reach for the SatNav though, there is a great selection of things to do in Ambleside with dogs too!

Windermere Lake Cruises

Waterhead near Ambleside

Windermere Lake Cruises operates from picturesque Waterhead where you can em-bark (see what we did there?) on an elegant steamer cruise with your dog around the shimmering waters of Windermere. Four-legged friends travel for free and even get their own ticket!

You also have the option to stop off at some of the lake’s attractions en route. Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, the gardens of Brockhole and the grounds of Wray Castle all welcome dogs.

If you fancy exploring at your own pace, you can also hire a self-drive motorboat or rowing boat (if you’re feeling energetic), both of which allow dogs on leads on board. Don’t forget to snap a photo of your pup’s cruising adventures to share with Windermere Lake Cruises on Instagram.

Why your dog will love it: You know that feeling they get with the car window open and the wind in their fur? Well, with fresh air all around the enjoyment is doubled, and the world, or at least the lake, is your oyster!

Stagshaw Gardens

Dog on a bench in gardens

A short stroll from Ambleside town will transport you into the woodland paradise that is Stagshaw Gardens. A delicious jumble of leafy paths, stunning shrubs and unusual trees and plants create a fairy-tale setting which your pooch is sure to enjoy exploring as much as you.

Large oak trees tower above, and riotous bursts of daffodils and bluebells daub the woodland in spring as if lifted right from an artist’s canvas. In fact, there are a collection of camellias planted by the designer Cubby Acland to represent an artist’s palette.

Why your dog will love it: While visitors gravitate towards Ambleside and Lake Windermere, you can enjoy some quiet time in nature – perfect for our furry friends who favour peace and quiet.

Ambleside Roman Fort

Ambleside fort ruins

Cared for by the National Trust, this oft-overlooked vestige of Roman history lies on Windermere’s beautiful shores, where it’s hard to believe that bloody battles once took place and a bustling community lived and worked.

The ground-level ruins represent the fort’s defences and parts of the interior, with several features still visible. It’s free to walk around the fenced-off ruins and you can download a PDF guide from the National Trust website to help you get the most out of your visit. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot close to town, it’s a lovely place to sit and tuck into your food in view of the boats bobbing on the lake.

Why your dog will love it: There’s plenty of grass to sniff about in and the chance to pester you into setting off for walkies along the tranquil river Rothay.

Top dog walks in Ambleside

dog walks in Ambleside

Dog walks in Ambleside – where shall we start? If you were to pick a destination based on its dog-walking potential alone, Ambleside would be a strong contender for first place. There are numerous routes close to the shores of Lake Windermere including the leafy paths around Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore, the spectacular Orrest Head hill walk and the short climb up to the Brant Fell viewpoint.

Booking a guided walk through The Lake District Walker is a great way to experience the best of the national park under the wing of someone who knows the routes like the back of their hand. Your dog can join you too, and you can choose a walk to suit your ability or desired level of challenge.

But if you want to simply set off from your Ambleside holiday cottage on foot, check out our favourite Ambleside walks with dogs below.

Stock Ghyll Force

Stock Ghyll Force

If you’re looking for dog walks in Ambleside with minimum effort and maximum return, this is the one for you! Head out of town along Stockghyll Lane by the Salutation Hotel and you’ll spot a sign set in a stone wall pointing you ‘to the waterfalls’. Up the lane and along a woodland path, the occasional signs and red direction arrows will keep you en-route to reach the plummeting ribbons of water of Stock Ghyll Force.

Spend a while admiring the falls from the little viewing platforms and either retrace your steps back to town or continue on up the pathway and cross the river to descend via a set of steep steps. Be warned, though, this optional section is for nimble dogs and owners only!

From the main waterfall viewing area, you can follow the sign ‘to revolving gate exit’ to see the Victorian turnstile which used to be the admission point to view the waterfall over 100 years ago.

Why your dog will love it: Show us a dog who doesn’t love a leisurely jaunt through a woodland, with a stop to look at a waterfall (i.e. Have a sniff around) followed by a rest in a dog-friendly café in town!

Loughrigg Fell and Rydal Cave

Rydal Cave

There are panoramic views aplenty on this beautiful walk starting in dog-friendly Ambleside. Trundle up and over the top of Loughrigg Fell, along Loughrigg Terrace and onwards to Rydal Cave. If you’re feeling adventurous you can pick your way along the stepping stones into the gaping cavern which is actually a man-made consequence of slate quarrying for roof tiles.

This 6.5-mile walk is best enjoyed on a fine day – you wouldn’t want to be wandering around Loughrigg Fell in low visibility. Your pooch should be capable of walking quite a distance too, and make sure you stop often for them to take a drink from one of the puddles or tarns on the fell.

Why your dog will love it: There’s plenty of space to bound around and expend some of that pent-up doggy energy, ready to rest while you enjoy a pub dinner back in town.

Waterhead and Skelghyll Woods


This 3-mile walk is a great choice for pups who enjoy a sedate stroll through woodland and gardens, and those who are partial to a paddle! From Waterhead Pier, Ambleside’s lakeside touchpoint, the walk can incorporate a short detour around Stagshaw Gardens before heading off up through the woods, along a riverside track and onwards up to Jenkins Crag. With the hilly part of the walk behind you, you can revel in the views while taking a well-earned break at what has been voted the most romantic spot in Cumbria! You may want to keep an inquisitive dog on the lead here, as there is a treacherous drop off the crag.

Retrace your steps then head left along woodland paths amongst conifers and then oak trees, back down to pass Stagshaw and take a detour for your dog to have a run along the shore of the lake.

Why your dog will love it: There are lots of lovely places to have a nose around and the chance to have a splash in the lake will prove too tempting for most water-loving dogs!

Top dog-friendly places to eat in Ambleside

Places to eat in Ambleside

When it comes to places to eat in Ambleside with dogs, you will truly be spoilt for choice! Many of the town’s restaurants and cafes will welcome your four-legged companion with open arms and as you mosey around the shops and lakeside, you’ll never be far from one of Ambleside’s dog-friendly cafes.

In fact, there are so many dog-friendly restaurants in Ambleside that it was a tricky task to narrow down our list to a few to showcase here! Besides those listed below Stiles, The Waterhead Hotel, Daisy’s Café and Chester’s By The River all allow pets.

These are just the tip of the iceberg and we’re sure that you’ll have no problem finding places to eat with your pooch.

Sheila’s Cottage

hot chocolate

Describing itself as a quaint, cottage-style licensed restaurant, Sheila’s Cottage offers a cosy atmosphere where you can enjoy a mouth-watering home-cooked meal, prepared with local produce where possible. With day and evening menus, it’s the perfect place for a hearty lunch after a local walk, or to relax and unwind after a day out exploring the Lake District.

Why your dog will love it: Your dog is sure to love lying at your feet as you tuck into your meal, especially if you slip them a little titbit or two!

Copper Pot

coffee and cake

Whether you’re looking for a tasty treat on an amble around Ambleside, a sturdy breakfast to set you up for a day of walking and sightseeing, or a mouth-watering midday lunch, the Copper Pot is the place to go with your pooch.

This cosy dog-friendly café in Ambleside has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, with a fire to warm the cockles in winter, and a quaint little garden to indulge in a spot of al fresco dining in summer.

Why your dog will love it: Dogs are welcome to sit with you throughout the café – there’s no sticking to the bar area here!

Wateredge Inn

dog under picnic table at pub

When it comes to dog-friendly pubs in Ambleside with cracking views, you’d be hard pushed to beat the Wateredge Inn. Sitting, as the name suggests, right on the lakeside at Waterhead, dogs are welcome in the stylish bar area and large beer garden. With six real ales on tap, many of them from local breweries, it’s a gorgeous place to sit and soak up the beauty of this little corner of Lake Windermere.

Their menu features everything from light snacks to delicious evening meals to take your time over. Celebrating Cumbrian and British cuisine, using locally sourced foods, the dishes are hearty and fresh.

Why your dog will love it: They can paddle their feet in the lake while you enjoy your pint!

The Golden Rule

pulling a pint at a pub

This Grade II-listed watering hole has a lovely local pub feel about it, a smashing place to step away from your busy Lake District plans and lounge around for a little with a beer, newspaper and board game. Wooden beams and classic pub décor add to the welcoming atmosphere and as a non-dining pub, what the Golden Rule lacks in food it makes up for in its range of cask beers, draught lagers and ciders, fine wines, malt whiskies, gins, and other spirits.

Why your dog will love it: They are welcome to join you throughout the pub, and will love the fresh air and sunshine in the beer garden.

Top dog-friendly places to stay in Ambleside

Here at Canine Cottages, we know the importance of bringing your furry family member on holiday with you. And with so many natural spaces and walkies on offer in the Lake District, it’s the perfect choice for a pet-friendly holiday. We’ve picked out some lovely Ambleside properties which would make the perfect home-from-home for you and your pooch.

Brae Cottage

Brae Cottage - dog friendly cottage in Ambleside

Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Set in a quiet corner in the heart of the town of Ambleside, romantic, whitewashed Brae Cottage makes the perfect retreat for two humans and up to two pups. You can set off on foot right from the doorstep to enjoy Windermere and the surrounding hills, but don’t forget to leave time to relax in front of the open fire or soaking up the sunshine in the south-facing garden.

Why your dog will love it: Cute and cosy, it’s the home-loving dog’s dream holiday cottage and they’ll love sniffing around the leafy garden.

Beck Head Tarn

Beck Head Tarn- dog friendly cottage in Ambleside

Sleeps 3 + 2 dogs

A charming log cabin set amongst peaceful woodland, you can sit and watch nature in the treetops from the lovely terrace area. Sleeping three people across two cosy wood-panelled rooms with woodland views, Beck Head Tarn welcomes up to two dogs who will enjoy roaming the open-plan living space while you potter around enjoying the holiday vibes.

The shared on-site swimming pool and jacuzzi is the icing on the cake, and the perfect tonic for your weary limbs after walking in the surrounding Cumbrian countryside. The majestic drop of Skelwith Force waterfall is just 6.5 miles away, and 26 miles away lies the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike.

Why your dog will love it: There are so many walkies nearby, and the sights and sounds of the woodland are sure to keep them entertained during your stay.

Carr Crag Cottage

Carr Crag Cottage - dog friendly cottage in Ambleside

Sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Spacious and enticing, Carr Crag Cottage sits in a wonderful setting overlooking the Great Langdale Valley and the mountains. Set off from the doorstep and you’ll find walkies like nowhere else, or just kick back and enjoy the epic views from the house itself. The living area is warm and welcoming, with wooden beams, deep sofas and a roaring wood burner where you’re sure to find Fido relaxing on a chilly winter’s day.

The beautiful conservatory is a great spot for breakfast and coffee, while your pooch is sure to want to get out into the expansive grounds to have a sniff around while you enjoy the peaceful vistas.

Why your dog will love it: You could pick a new walking route every day! Carr Crag Cottage is just a 1-mile walk from Skelwith Force, 1.5 miles from Loughrigg Fell and 5 miles from Rydal Water.

Stay in one of our dog-friendly holiday cottages in Ambleside. Equipped with everything you’ll need for an enjoyable stay, they offer the perfect base for exploring Windermere and the surrounding countryside.

Ambleside dog-friendly cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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