Your guide to things to do in Cumbria: third stop, Penrith
The third stop in our guide to Cumbrian culture is the market town of Penrith. Located in the Lake District’s Eden Valley, it’s a jumping-off point for art and gastronomic explorations a-plenty. To the west is the tranquil village of Greystoke, home to the family-run Beckstones Art Gallery. Although the paintings here lean towards the traditional (still lives and landscapes); the gallery’s riverside setting makes tangible the connection between Cumbrian art and Cumbrian countryside.
Nearby, the Greystoke Cycle Café is a draw, and not solely for cyclists. Falling firmly into the ‘eccentric’ camp, this tearoom-cum-repair-shop also hosts self-styled ‘quirky workshops’ with everything from barefoot exercise classes to art, craft and beekeeping courses.
Fancy mixing up the contemporary and the historic? Try Pot Fest, a peripatetic ceramic market that attracts makers from all over the world. Potfest in the Park (July) occurs in the rolling grounds of Hutton in the Forest, a stately home dating back to the 14th century, while Potfest in the Pens (Aug) is in the auction-mart in Penrith.
From here, it’s just a short drive to Little Salkeld and Melmerby, two destinations for lovers of artisan breads and baking. The original Village Bakery in Melmerby sells organic loaves, cakes and French breads (and has gluten-free ranges), while similar fare can be picked up at Little Salkeld’s Water Mill. More importantly, here you can learn about traditional milling (it’s one of the last remaining such mills in the UK) via a variety of baking and cookery courses. Simple, delicious meals are available in the tea rooms and the flours they mill are also available to buy.