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Fairfield horseshoe

The outdoor explorers guide to student living in Ambleside

The Lake District, Cumbria is renowned as the adventure capital of the UK.


For many people, Ambleside is at the heart of the action. Drawing people from all over the world to snap the iconic World Heritage landscape, explore the romance of the fells, or simply soak up the culture of Ambleside. For our students - there is so much more. It is a thriving community for those with a passion for nature and the outdoors.


This is the University of Cumbria's guide on how to make the most of it.

1. Adventure Sports Cumbria University Upskill ProgrammeAdventure sports can be costly to learn and the equipment expensive – but not for our students. Every student based at our Ambleside campus has the opportunity to be enriched in our Upskill programme. This is completely free to students and you can expect to get tuition in climbing, winter-skills, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, caving, bushcraft and more. Once our team are confident you can proceed on your own safely, then you are able to rent the equipment independently - And again it’s completely free.


Upskill is operated by our outdoor demonstrators Pete Waite-Shores and Simon McCabe and you really couldn’t ask for a more experienced and passionate team to explore the lakes with. Pete and Simon have a vast amount of experience in all things outdoors and have fulfilled their own adventures; Pete having worked as a Polar Guide for the British Artic Survey and Simon led Sir Richard Branson through the Alps.

2. Bag a couple of Wainwright fells Fairfield horseshoe Alfred Wainwright was famous for mapping and hand drawing 214 Lakeland fells, many of which surround our awesome campus. For those with a passion for hiking, summiting the top of all of the Wainwright fells is a life’s ambition and the perfect weekend working towards. Walking round Ambleside you will see many of the shops, bars, and cafes in Ambleside paying tribute to the Wainwright fells by displaying maps, posters and even a very elaborate middle earth style drawing of the Wainwrights fells.


One of note is the phenomenal Fairfield Horseshoe, which can be accessed from our very own campus. Fairfield horseshoe is one of the highest peaks at 2,870ft in the Lake District and dominates the Ambleside skyline.

3. Try open water swimming SwimthelakesOpen water swimming is exhilarating and here we have so many lakes and tarns to choose from in walking distance from our campus you’d never have to swim in the same place twice. Open water swimming has become increasingly popular in the area, and it has never been easier to get involved, including Ambleside’s very own wild swimming shop (swimthelakes), which offers guided swims for newbies wanting to know the safe spots to swim and meet like-minded individuals.
4. Bike Grizedale Forest Grizedale mountain bikingHome to many different marked mountain bike trails and the legendary North Face Trail. The picturesque tree lined routes provide an adrenaline pumping experience for all abilities.

Accessing Grizedale Forest is easy from campus and can be achieved either by a short drive or by cycling. You can even get the Windermere ferry across the lake from Bowness if you’re in the mood for relaxing and taking in your surroundings.

Grizedale Forest cycling tracks have been cleverly designed for all abilities wanting to get out on a bike to enjoy the forest, from those wanting to rent the electric bikes on offer and take a gentle ride - to the riders who want nothing more than to experience the best single tracks, board walks and drop-offs the forest has to offer. Grizedale forest is also home to Go-Ape, where you can get up above the canopy and zip-line through the forest.

5. Relax, drink and take in the views and discover the Culture of Ambleside

Tags BridgehouseRelax, drink and take in the views and discover the Culture of Ambleside. The town is the outdoor capital of England, so it is not surprising that most people living and visiting here would rather sit outside and enjoy a pint, looking out to the mountains – even if it is freezing.


Ambleside has many places where you can chill-out after a day on the fells with friends, from country pubs serving local ales, to places where you can grab a cocktail and listen to live music.

This article was provided by the University of Cumbria, a Strategic Partner of Cumbria Tourism & GoLakes

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