Exploring Penrith, Cumbria.

Penrith is a bustling Cumbrian Market Town on the edge of the Lake District. Ullswater is about 20 minutes drive away. At the weekend we parked on the very outskirts and walked in. What immediately strikes a visitor are the many attractive red sandstone houses built from the local sandstone, these give Penrith it’s nick name of ‘Old Red Town’.

We looked for somewhere to have lunch, away from the general hustle and bustle. I can recommend the church Square which is just off the centre and has several little cafes looking out over St Andrews churchyard. St Andrews church itself is an impressive looking building ,it’s tower dating back to the 12th century. And in the churchyard resides a Giants Grave…..

Giants Thumb.

The Giants Grave consists of six tombstones, two ancient crosses standing upright and four lower hogback stones. But who is buried there? One legend has it that it is an ancient Cumbrian King ‘ Owen’ , though it could also be the grave of a great boar hunter ‘ Sir Owen Caesarius’ with the hogback stones representing four large boars. I’m liking the second option! Also in the churchyard is another impressive monument, a Norse Wheel cross known as the Giants Thumb, which until the 19th century was used as a whipping post for punishing local criminals. Very Christian behaviour…..

Giants Grave.

Scrumpy Dog.

We had lunch sat outside the Eden Gallery tea rooms, which inside are an eclectic mix of teapots, second hand books & a piano. There is an adorable resident Old English Sheep Dog called Scrumpy and they do a great tuna & cheese panini. 😄

After wandering round the town we headed to Penrith Castle, which can be found up from the centre near the train station. In fact if you arrive in Penrith by train , the red sandstone ruins of this medieval castle are your first view of the town. The once proud fortress helped to defend England from Scottish marauder’s and even became the residence of King Richard III. Today the site is looked after by English Heritage and is part of a public park.

War Memorial.

On the way back to the car we stopped for cake at a cafe bar called Xavier’s. We sat outside , though the cafe like quite a few in Penrith is dog friendly. Good to know for future visits!

Have you ever visited Penrith? What are your impressions?

22 thoughts on “Exploring Penrith, Cumbria.”

  1. I’ve never actually been to Penrith, only passed by on my way to Ullswater and the Lakes. It sounds like quite an interesting place – I like Scrumpy the dog, and that piece of cake looks delicious 🙂

    1. I think you might like it there Eunice. The Giants Grave is in the Lake District book we both have. As is Penrith itself….so you may just visit oneday. 🙂

  2. We had a holiday in a caravan in Culgaith when I was about 10 so that was the last time I was in Penrith properly, though I did go to a supermarket there when I was staying with friends at Center Parc which doesn’t really count! As Eunice says, it’s somewhere you tend to bypass on the way somewhere else. It looks pretty though, so definitely worth going sometime.

  3. Lovely photos. I remember dropping into Penrith on the way home from a holiday in the Dumfries area of Scotland. We parked nearby and walked around the castle because of its Richard III connections but didn’t find the interesting church or the lovely cafes you visited as we had a long journey ahead of us it was a quick visit. It looks like a place to return to:)

    1. I think it does get by passed by by lake District tourists, however it was still a busy place on a Saturday. Worth an explore. Lots of shops too. X

  4. Like your other commenters I’ve only ever passed through on the train or skirted from the M6 junction heading for the Lakes or West Cumbria for work. I did sort of visit once, for an away match, when I used to follow non-league football team Chorley FC. But I was only about 15 or 16 so thats a long time ago and we only saw the football ground.

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