Just outside the National Park ,yet still in the Lake District, lies Penrith ,a regional centre of the Northern Lakes. In Roman times this historic market town at Junction 40 off the M6 was strategically positioned to and from Scotland and used as a military centre.
The imposing ruins of Penrith Castle, which is situated opposite the centrally located train station, has a very intriguing history. The building of the castle began in 1399.William Strickland, Bishop of Carlisle and later Archbishop of Canterbury, added a stone wall to an earlier peel tower, primarily as a defence against the Scottish raids. Over the next 70 years the castle saw many changes, until 1483, when it was turned into a royal fortress by Richard, Duke of Gloucester before he became King Richard the Third.
St Andrews Church Penrith
The centre of Penrith is dominated by the Clock Tower and St Andrews Church, with a church having stood on this site since 1133 and the present church being built in 1720. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Christopher Wren, in an imposing Grecian style, and modelled on St Andrews Holborn. The remains of the 13th Century tower are incorporated in the existing church, and have walls 6 feet thick which may have been used as a peel tower.
A legendary giant and King of all Cumbria, is said to be buried in the Giant’s Grave in St Andrews Churchyard. The four hogback stones surrounding the grave are said to represent wild boar he killed in nearby Inglewood Forest. Whilst also of interest at the not too distant church of Dacre, near Pooley Bridge with their famous stone carved figures of the ‘Dacre Bears’ which are situated within the churchyard at each corner.
William and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth, and later to be his wife Mary Hutchinson attended the Dame Anne Birkett School, which overlooks the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church.
To the south of Penrith are the ancient Neolithic henge sites known as Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Round Table. Mayburgh Henge is much better preserved than neighbouring King Arthur’s Round Table.
Some 14 miles from Penrith just off the main A66 from Penrith to Keswick lies the large and impressive Castlerigg Stone Circle. Of all the Neolithic sites Castlerigg is perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles and my personal favourite.It’s totally surrounded with panoramic views of the Lakeland fells, with Helvellyn and High Seat as a Backdrop.
Situated a short distance from the town of Penrith is Rheged visitors’ centre, offering a varied array of year round exhibitions, Lake District topics of interest and a play area for children.
Penrith Agricultural Society
The Penrith Agricultural Society was formed in 1833 with the society promoting the first ‘Penrith Show’ the following year. Whilst retaining the tradition of a genuine agricultural and farming emphasis, the show has gathered great momentum in recent years. Worthy of a mention as a great day out, with the rural and urban communities coming together for a special day of competitions in a wide spectrum of classes for farm livestock, arable, horses, rabbits, poultry, show jumping, industrial and horticultural.
Penrith also offers a great leisure centre and Penrith skate park for the kids which is within easy walking distance of the town centre, should you wish to leave the kids to go swimming or use any of the other facilities offered.
Accommodation is plentiful in Penrith and surrounding area from hotels to locally run guest houses all catering for walking and outdoor activities in the Lake District.
Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Penrith please visit Penrith on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.
There is an abundance of holiday accommodation within Penrith and the surrounding area of the Eden Valley, with Campsites, Guest Houses and local pubs. For a pet friendly home search our Lake District Cottages for a local cottage close to Penrith and the Eden Valley. Whatever time of year you visit Penrith you will find a friendly place to stay.