Tag Archives: Ambleside

World championship comes to Ambleside

A world championship event is to be staged at Ambleside Sports for the first time this summer.

Organisers have learned they have won the bid to host the Ladies All Weights world championship in Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling.

The Sports, being staged for the first time since 2019, will be held on the field at Rydal on Thursday July 28. Wrestling is always one of the major attractions at the event, which also features hound trailing, fell running, track cycling, children’s races and much more.

The current world champion, who has held the title since 2019 because of the pandemic, is an Ambleside favourite, Connie Hodgson. She has competed at the Sports on many occasions and is now a popular ambassador for wrestling, working with children in schools across the county.

Connie interviewed by Helen Skelton for BBC Countryfile at Ambleside Sports. Photos: Steve Ashworth

She was also a flag-bearer for Ambleside on a trip to London in 2016 when the Sports organised “flash-mob” wrestling bouts at notable landmarks across the city.

President of Ambleside Sports Mr Jak Hirst said: “This is a great coup for us, as our Sports returns to be even better than ever. We are very proud to hold a world championship event.”

Tickets for the event will go on sale shortly.

Ambleside Sports ground

Ambleside store leads the way in sustainable trading

A Cumbrian couple’s new business venture is setting the standard for sustainable trading.

Claire and Alec McCarthy, who run the Rattle Ghyll café in Ambleside, have now opened a fine food and deli shop in the town.

the family at the shop

It’s stocked with local – and natural – produce. And in a bid to eliminate plastic from our shopping bags, one corner is dedicated to zero-waste self-service refills of a range of grocery products.

These include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, rice and couscous, porridge oats and muesli, which can be dispensed into paper bags or customers’ own containers; and washing up liquid and shampoo.

Claire in the shop

The shop also has a wide range of teas and coffees from local suppliers Atkinsons, Rinaldos and Red Bank, unusual cheeses as well as dairy-free and gluten-free items, fresh salads and home-made cakes.

“We want to know what our customers – locals and tourists – want us to stock,” said Claire. “We’re not just open to suggestions, we positively want them to tell us what they would like to see here.”

There are wines and beers alongside on-trend natural products such as Kimchi -a staple in Korean cuisine, which is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables – and Kombucha, a fermented drink said to have health benefits. Coming soon will be spice mixes and recipe cards so that customers can make their own versions of what they have tried at the original café.

cheeses and salads at the deli

Claire and Alec, who have a two-year old daughter Adelaide, have been running the Rattle Ghyll café for six years. They have built an award-winning reputation for home cooking and baking which has won fans among locals and tourists alike. It’s especially popular with runners and cyclists.

“The new venture is enabling us to share our concerns about the environment, to help lower carbon footprints by offering a wide range of goods locally, and to encourage shoppers to abandon plastic,” said Claire.

Shoppers were enthusiastic. Early comments included: “This will change the way we shop locally” and “It’s like a proper grocery shop used to be, and so different from all the pre-packaged goods in supermarkets.”

Chris Hodgson, who with his wife Allie runs the town’s award-winning Haven Cottage guest house, and is a member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future, welcomed the new shop. He said: “This is an exciting new venture which will encourage people to shop locally, for fantastic tasting local produce, and cut down on our use of plastics. It also proves you don’t have to sacrifice taste and flavour to support sustainability.”

A spokesperson for AAFAF said that the group had been quietly cheering on the new venture and was absolutely delighted that it was coming to fruition. “It will certainly contribute very significantly to reducing plastic usage in the town and bring the issue of plastic containers and packaging to the forefront of people’s minds.” She added that AAFAF’s members would certainly be among its most regular and enthusiastic

home baked bread at the new shop

Simply the best in Cumbria

An Ambleside guest house has been judged the best in Cumbria just two years after the new owners took over.

Haven Cottage won the title at the Cumbria Tourism awards, with the judges highlighting the excellent customer service of Chris and Allie Hodgson.

Allie & Chris awards night.JPG

The award was open to bed and breakfast and guest-house businesses providing “truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business”.


Chris and Allie swapped their corporate jobs in their 30s to set-up and run a catered ski chalet in the French Alps, first in Morzine and then in Samoens, before moving back to the UK four years ago, and now run Haven Cottage with the help of housekeeper Cristina Dumitrascu. Chris is a member of Ambleside AC and was one of the organisers of the recent British Fell Relay races at Grasmere, and he’s also an active member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future.

crhis and allie nice 1

They recently won the coveted ROSE award from Visit England in recognition of service excellence and Haven Cottage is the long-term Trip Advisor No 1 out of 101 establishments in Ambleside. The guest-house has three double bedrooms and two luxury suites, holds four-star gold accreditation from Visit England – and a reputation for excellent breakfasts. They also hold the Green Tourism silver award and are working toward gaining gold status.

Said Allie: “This is a wonderful accolade for us. While we believe that Haven Cottage provides a high level of comfort, it is more about how we run our guest house, and the exceptional customer service we provide, that we believe sets us apart.

“We have a genuine desire to make sure guests enjoy their stay in the Lakes to the maximum and spend time each day helping guests plan their day’s activities and provide detailed itineraries and walks if required.”

Chris said: “We spent over a decade running a very successful ski chalet in the French Alps. The time in France was invaluable in developing our hospitality skills and gave us confidence that our model of ‘excellence in customer service’ was the right one, both for ourselves and our guests.”

The personal touch is combined with an increasing focus on sustainability and community. Products are sourced locally in and around Ambleside to provide high quality breakfasts and toiletries, and the couple actively support the local community both in organised events and helping shape tomorrow’s world of sustainable tourism.

Allie said: “We do go out of our way to ensure guests are having a great stay. What’s the point in having all this knowledge and love for the Lakes if we don’t share it with our guests? It’s great to be recognised this way.”

What guests have said about Haven Cottage:

  • Absolute perfection.
  • The Haven is perfect.
  • Chris and Allie were friendly, informative, welcoming and great breakfast chefs.
  • Nothing I can fault at all.
  • We were there for four nights and were able to observe a variety of guests from hard-core walkers (like us) to people who were car touring. Each couple was given the warmest of welcomes, and if they were new to the Lake District, very personal advice on how to use their time or where to walk given the weather conditions and their skill level.



A winning haven for guests in Ambleside

An Ambleside guest house has won the coveted Visit England ROSE Award in just the second year under new management.

Haven Cottage was taken over by Allie and Chris Hodgson in spring last year, and they are thrilled to be one of just 100 recipients across the country – and just three in Cumbria.

allie an chris

The ROSE Awards – Recognition of Service Excellence – put the spotlight on those accommodation providers who give visitors the warmest of welcomes.  They recognise the owners, management and employees of establishments that go above and beyond, making customers’ experiences extra special, irrespective of star rating, style or accommodation type.

Suite 8 balcony & seating

Haven Cottage, which has three double bedrooms and two luxury suites, holds four-star gold accreditation from Visit England. With a reputation for excellent breakfasts, for which they have also received an award, the guest house is currently number one in Ambleside in the Trip Advisor ratings.

Breakfast Special

Visit England Director Patricia Yates said that the ROSE awards recognised outstanding accommodation providers. “It is the human touch that these people provide that make visitors’ experiences memorable, ensuring repeat business and helping the industry thrive. The awards celebrate the teams and owners whose efforts surpass expectations.”

Allie and Chris moved back to the UK after running ski-chalet accommodation in the French Alps, in Morzine and then Samoens, and now run Haven Cottage with the help of housekeeper Cristina Dumitrascu. They make a point of using local suppliers in and around the Ambleside area.  Chris is a member of Ambleside AC and was one of the organisers of the recent British Fell Relay races at Grasmere.

Allie said: “We are delighted to receive this award. It is all the more rewarding because it’s based on visitors’ experiences and confidential nomination. We do go out of our way to ensure guests are having a great stay. What’s the point in having all this knowledge and love for the lakes if we don’t share it with our guests? t’s a lovely surprise to be recognised this way.”

Haven cottage

First woman at the helm of traditional Lakeland sports


A new chair has taken the helm of the committee which organises England’s oldest traditional sports event.

Marjorie Blackburn is the first woman to lead Ambleside Sports, now in its 132nd year. Mrs Blackburn takes over from Jak Hirst who is stepping down after 13 years. He will keep an advisory role, and retain responsibility for attracting sponsorship.

Marj and Jak

Mrs Blackburn, who lives in Ambleside, has been a member of the organising committee for 18 years, alongside her husband, Mike, himself a former chairman.  Her professional career includes teaching and training, personnel and business, and she is a keen golfer, walker, and member of a local singing group.

Many tributes were paid to Mr Hirst’s “total dedication” to the Sports and he was described as a great team leader.

Ambleside Sports is run entirely by volunteers who spend months in planning and organising, and then a full week of setting up and taking down the sports field equipment. One of the highlights on the Cumbrian calendar, the event includes fell racing (with a new category for under-9s in the popular Guides race this year), hound trails, track cycling, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and many stalls and sideshows.

The committee has also given £14,000 in the last five years in sporting scholarships to young people in the area, to help them develop their sporting potential.

Also stepping down from the committee was Tom Harrington MBE, the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestler who won 44 world championships.

This year’s event will be held at Rydal Park on Thursday July 26. Space is still available for anyone wanting to book a trade stall in the “craft” marquee to sell local produce, art, jewellery etc, and these can be booked for £35, including table,  via the website http://amblesidesports.co.uk/



Safety session for burns awareness

A safety-at-home session is being staged in Ambleside on National Burns Awareness Day by a paramedic who suffered serious burns as a toddler.

Nick Wright, the director of MedSkills Academy, will host the drop-in session at Ambleside’s Parish Centre on Wednesday (Oct 18) from 3.30 till 4.30. It’s hoped that the event will appeal especially to families with young children.

Nick was left with scarring over his shoulder following an accident at home, involving a hot drink, when he was a child.  “Although scarring is now minimal, I appreciate the long-lasting effect such an injury can have,” he said.

nick profile pic

Nick Wright

The National Burns Awareness Day gives Nick and his staff an opportunity to pass on expert knowledge regarding prevention and first aid treatment to the local and national community.

“Our aim is to raise awareness of the shocking number of people burned each day in the UK.  We also want to promote, good, effective first aid for burns to as many people as we can and at the same time fundraise for The Children’s Burns Trust.”

The MedSkills Academy drop-in session is for anyone who wants to find out more about making their homes safer, learn how to provide first aid to burns and an opportunity to ask questions to a healthcare expert.

Nick said: “I have staff who will be providing similar awareness raising sessions across the UK to members of the public and healthcare professionals alike.  We’ve also set up a Just Giving page to raise money for The Children’s Burns Trust”.

To find out more contact MedSkills Academy on 0800 612 5123.  To make a donation to the Children’s Burns Trust visit – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/medskillsacademy

burns banner





Kate’s business finds her heart in a garden

Kate Ayres, Heart of a Garden

Kate Ayres inherited her green fingers. Her great-grandfather, she believes, would be very proud of her business venture, Heart of a Garden. He was trained at Kew Gardens and went on to be curator at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. “I always loved pottering about in the garden with my mother, but it took a long time to become a career” says Kate.

Based in Ambleside in the Lake District, her heart now truly is in a garden. She has landscaped her own, lovingly, and is now helping others to add touches of distinction and individuality to theirs, supplying a range of unusual and high quality ornaments and décor.

Hers is an online shop, and her customers are all over Britain, but she is especially pleased to help local clients, particularly hotels with lovely gardens – of which there are many in Cumbria. For example, she has provided garden furniture (tables, chairs, bench and arbour) and lanterns in the grounds of the popular wedding venue and organic guest house, Cote Howe, close to the shores of Rydal Water.

It’s only been in the last few years that Kate found her garden heart, after a range of fascinating business careers. This energetic climber and fell-runner, who also helps run a mountain guide business with her partner, started her working life making and selling violins. Originally from London, she left school at 16 but after working for a couple of years she went to study violin making at the London College of Furniture. “I enjoyed music. I played the piano and flute, and I was keen to run my own business making and repairing violins for a living.”

That dream was fulfilled, and for many years she and her first husband ran a successful violin shop in Manchester. But when her two children grew up, and the marriage ended, Kate took a radical change of direction and moved to Ambleside, signing up for a degree in teaching at the University of Cumbria.

It was there that she pursued her love of the outdoors, eventually gaining her Mountain Leadership certificate and qualifying as a climbing instructor. She graduated at the age of 50 but decided not to go into teaching, and spent three years working as a school administrator and finance officer for a small, rural primary school.

At the same time, she was working as an outdoor activities instructor with her partner Mark Eddy for their company, Mountain Journeys, taking clients on mountain walks, fell runs, rock climbing and abseiling sessions.

“I really enjoy the outdoor work but I wanted to pursue other challenges as well.” Her mind, and her heart, took her towards gardening. She had designed and landscaped her own garden, and wanted to fill it with ornaments and statues which were different from those sold in most garden centres. “That was the start of Heart of a Garden. I started to source garden ornaments and gifts from around the country, and realised that there was a demand for the unusual.”

As the name of the venture implies, there’s a lot of Kate’s heart and passion in the work. The website is full of beautiful and quirky items, from delicately-crafted garden furniture to pots, wind sculptures and bird tables. There’s an emphasis on sustainability – wooden plant labels, seed savers made from recycled cardboard, even a range of plant pots made from recycled tyres.

“It is very satisfying, knowing that I can bring art and design into gardens,” says Kate. “The statues, sculptures, animals and birds are proving popular for hotel gardens, too.”


Cumbrian gardeners and hoteliers can call for advice and individual orders: 015394 31806.

Ambleside’s Chris joins world’s toughest athletes


Ambleside athlete Chris Stirling has gained an elite place in the world’s toughest triathlon.

He will take part in the Norseman Xtreme in Norway next summer, a point to point race that starts by jumping off a ferry into a fjord and ends on a mountain summit.

Chris, 32, who works at the Climbers Shop in Ambleside, was this year’s winner of the Wasdale triathlon, recognised as the world’s toughest at the half “iron man” distance. He finished second in the Celtman, the Scottish extreme triathlon, half an hour inside the previous course record.

Originally from Portishead, Bristol, Chris moved to the Lakes 10 years ago to live and train in the mountains. He has a background in climbing, mountaineering and fell running, and decided to start racing in 2012, triathlon and fell running. He  represented Northern Ireland in mountain running events in 2013 and again this year.

He said: “I am very happy and honoured to make this list of international athletes. Norseman was part of my original inspiration for taking up triathlon in 2012 so you could say this is a dream come true. It certainly feels that way.”

Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is considered the ultimate triathlon on the planet, and the race that “any hard core triathlete should do at least once”.

The course runs point-to-point – or fjord to peak, starting at sea level, with a four-metre drop off a ferry into the Hardangerfjord, crossing the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, and finishing at the rocky peak of Gaustatoppen, at 1,850m above sea level and 220km away. There’s a total ascent of 5,000metres.

Chris, who trains six or seven days a week, often two or three sessions a day, is now looking for sponsors and supporters; he will need a back-up team to accompany him to Norway and transport.


Ambleside cinema in line for national award

Zeffirellis of Ambleside has been shortlisted for the national Cinema of the Year awards.

The cinema is in the finals, along with Rambling Road Entertainment for the film Downhill, in the Premiere of the Year and Cinema of the Year categories at the prestigious Screen Awards. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London in October.

The small town multi-screen cinema is up against the likes of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and X-Men: Days Of Future Past in the Premiere of the Year category and Picturehouse Entertainment in the Cinema of the Year category.  The premiere of Downhill was one of the town’s major events of the year, with a champagne reception and an imaginative decoration of the cinema reception.

Zeffirellis’ sister restaurant Fellinis has also just been short listed in the Cheshire and Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards 2014 in the category for Lakeland Dining Excellence.

The 5th annual Screen Awards will be held at the The Brewery in London on October 23 , celebrating excellence in film distribution, marketing, advertising and exhibition. The awards event will be a coming together of the industry’s who’s who for an evening of recognition and celebration.

Managing director Dorothy Smith said: “I’m truly delighted that both Zeffirellis and Fellinis have been nominated for awards. To be in the running against the ‘big’ boys is an incredible achievement. This follows on from Zeffirellis winning the Cumbria Life Outstanding Service Award earlier this year. None of the recommendations would have been possible without the tremendous support and assistance of both teams at Zeffirellis and Fellinis.”

Inspiring day for adventure leaders

A special study day for outdoor leaders is to be held in the heart of the Lake District in Ambleside.

Journeys to Inspire Change is a one day symposium to explore leadership and sustainability, led by the Adventure and Environmental Awareness group.

Staged at the Ambleside campus of the University of Cumbria, the event offers outdoor leaders the opportunity to consider the core values of leadership needed to encourage more sustainable living.

Participants will choose to explore issues on themed “journeys” with experts in the field. Outdoor philosopher and environmental campaigner Kate Rawles will look at local and global climate change, with Ruth Kirk, from the Friends of the Lake District.

Chris Loynes, reader in outdoor studies at the University of Cumbria, along with Richard Leafe, CEO of the Lake District National Park will lead a group tackling “landscapes – power, politics and values”. A third group will look at practical ways to connect with nature, led by Graham Watson of the John Muir Award and Amanda Luxmoore from Windermere Reflections.

Geoff Cooper, AEA Chairman said: “How many adventurers are aware of the delicate ecological balance and beauty of the environment through which they journey? How many of us accept responsibility for the environment and are prepared to take steps towards its conservation? We will address questions such as these and discuss sustainability and leadership at three levels by considering actions that can lead to personal, organisational and global change.”

Established in 1984, the Adventure and Environmental Awareness Group is made up of a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts and representatives of national and regional environmental and recreation organisations.

Bookings for the event on Friday July 4 can be made via the Institute for Outdoor Learning (01228 564580 / www.outdoor-learning.org) and cost £30 for the day, including a packed lunch. Call Amanda at Windermere Reflections on 015394 34401 for further details.