Rheged, Penrith by morebyless

Penrith and the Surrounding Area

Katie Hale

With the picturesque Lake District to the west, and the sweeping ridge of the Pennines to the east, it’s easy to see why Penrith is the perfect base to explore what Cumbria has to offer – but it’s also a cultural destination in its own right.

Penrith owes much of its heritage to its location. Situated on a traditional north-south route, Penrith has been an important stopping-off point since the Neolithic period. Since then, it has been called home by Roman troops, William Wordsworth, and even Richard III. As a traditional market town, it has long served as a centre for surrounding villages. The town centre is distinctive for its narrow yards, a number of them still cobbled, which lead between the streets, and would once have been essential for stabling horses when farmers brought their produce into town for market.

Head outside of town, and it quickly becomes clear why this area is called the Eden Valley. With its lush green hills and fields, its wildlife, and its views of mountains to the east and west, there are plenty of reasons to compare this area to paradise.

But this area has a darker history, too. Penrith and its surroundings have historically belonged to both Scotland and England (the last battle on English soil was fought at Clifton Moor in 1745, just a few miles south of Penrith), and, like the beacon which broods on top of the hill overlooking the town, the castles and pele towers dotting the landscapes are stark reminders of the bloody history of the Anglo-Scottish border.

Like Penrith itself, the Eden Valley holds tightly to its stories, in its historic buildings, in its stone circles and monoliths, and in the traditional fairs and celebrations that continue some of those traditions today.

Discover our top picks

  • 1. Penrith Town Centre

    Penrith Town Centre
    Creative Tourist

    Penrith Town Centre, Penrith Tourist Information Centre, Middlegate, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7PT - Visit now

    A blend of historic and contemporary gives Penrith its edge, ancient tradition sitting side-by-side with trendy wine bars, hipster cafes and fine dining.

  • 2. Penrith Castle

    Penrith Castle
    Creative Tourist

    Penrith Castle, Castle Terrace, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7EA - Visit now

    Ruins of a 14th century castle, former home of Richard III. Situated in Penrith’s Castle Park, and managed by English Heritage.

  • 3. Potfest in the Park

    Potfest

    Potfest in the Park at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumbria, 25 July 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    Elaborate vases, intricate centrepieces, and ceramics – Potfest in the Park celebrates the creative possibilities of clay.

  • 4. Rheged Centre

    RHEGED

    Rheged Centre, Rheged Centre, Redhills, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0DQ - Visit now

    A visitor centre containing gallery spaces, cinema screen, artisan shopping and local produce, as well as cafes and children’s play areas.

  • 5. Acorn Bank

    Acorn Bank

    Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby,, Penrith,, Cumbria, CA10 1SP - Visit now

    National Trust property seven miles outside Penrith with ornate gardens and woodland walks that offer views across the Eden Valley.

  • 6. J&J Graham

    J&J Graham of Penrith

    J&J Graham, 6-7 Market Square, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7BS - Visit now

    Right in the heart of the town centre, deli and bakery J&J Graham is a Penrith icon that dates back to 1793.

  • 7. The Winter Droving in Penrith

    Winter Droving Penrith
    Eden Arts

    The Winter Droving at Penrith Old Fire Station, Cumbria and online, 26 October 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    The Winter Droving festival raises a toast to the change in seasons and Penrith’s rural heritage. This completely out-of-the-ordinary town takeover is the perfect excuse to take an alternative trip to the Lake District.

  • 8. Askham Hall

    Askham Hall

    Askham Hall, Askham Hall,, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2PF - Visit now

    In a picturesque nook of Cumbria’s Eden Valley, Askham Hall offers luxury accommodation in a historic country house just outside of Penrith.

  • 9. Appleby Horse Fair

    Appleby Horse Fair

    Appleby Horse Fair, 4–6 June 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    An annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Appleby in the form of a traditional fair where horses are washed, trotted and sold.

  • 10. Lowther Castle and Gardens

    Lowther Castle and Gardens
    Image courtesy of Lowther Castle & Gardens

    Lowther Castle and Gardens, Lowther Castle and Gardens, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2HH - Visit now

    Sitting proud amid lush green parkland just inside the Lake District National Park, Lowther Castle is like a fairytale picture of a castle.

  • 11. Appleby Town Centre

    Appleby Town Centre
    Creative Tourist

    Appleby Town Centre, Appleby Tourist Information Centre - Moot Hall, Boroughgate, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, CA16 6XE - Visit now

    Appleby is a small market town in the Eden Valley, characterised by its rural location and historic buildings.

  • 12. Simple Goodness

    Simple Goodness

    Simple Goodness, Devonshire St,, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7SX - Visit now

    Nestled in the corner of Penrith’s Devonshire Arcade, Simple Goodness is a foodie haven for everything delicious, sustainable and vegan.

  • 13. Hutton-in-the-Forest

    Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9TH - Visit now

    A few miles north of Penrith, Hutton-in-the-Forest is an exquisite country house, described by Simon Jenkins as “one of Britain’s top 100”.

  • 14. Kendal Calling Festival 2021

    Kendal Calling

    Kendal Calling at Lowther Castle and Gardens, Cumbria, 29 July–1 August 2021, from £22.00 - Book now

    Featuring over 200 artists and performers, immersive arts experiences and kids activities, Kendal Calling is a great, family-friendly festival set in the stunning Lake District.

  • 15. The Yard Kitchen

    The Yard Kitchen

    The Yard Kitchen, Brunswick Rd, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7LU - Visit now

    Boasting an array of hot and cold food including homemade cakes, The Yard Kitchen is a café with a distinctly quirky feel.

  • 16. Victoria Clothing

    Victoria Clothing
    Creative Tourist

    Victoria Clothing, 53 Castlegate, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7HY - Visit now

    Victoria Clothing is an independent boutique in Penrith, specialising in goods by small-scale British artisans and Fair-Trade apparel.

  • 17. Dalemain

    DALEMAIN

    Dalemain, Dalemain,, Cumbria, Penrith, CA11 0HB - Visit now

    Visitors of Dalemain can enjoy four centuries of architecture, five acres of celebrated gardens and a Medieval Hall Tearoom.

  • 18. Brougham Castle

    Brougham Castle
    Creative Tourist

    Brougham Castle, Moor Lane, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2AA - Visit now

    Two miles from Penrith, Brougham Castle sits on the River Eamont in the Eden Valley, a proud reminder of strength in a turbulent bygone age.

  • 19. Alhambra Cinema

    Penrith Cinema

    Alhambra Cinema, 47 Middlegate, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7PT - Visit now

    An independent cinema in the heart of town, the Lonsdale Alhambra is, for many locals, a treasure of Penrith.

  • 20. Brougham Hall

    Brougham Hall

    Brougham Hall, Brougham, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2DE - Visit now

    A historic site and restoration project with an eclectic range of shops, studios and a gallery space, run by local artisans and craftspeople.

  • 21. Xavier’s Café & Wine Bar

    Xavier's Cafe and Wine

    Xavier’s Café & Wine Bar, 15 victoria Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 8HN - Visit now

    Xavier’s is Penrith’s answer to Paris’ wine-infused café culture. An elegant spot to unwind in both the daytime and evening.

  • 22. Picnic Cinema: Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall

    Picnic Cinema/ Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall, Cumbria and online, 18–26 June 2021, from £50.88 - Book now

    Enjoy a whole evening of entertainment when the outdoor Picnic Cinema runs its annual series of screenings of Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall AKA Crow Crag – the cottage from the cult classic film.

  • 23. EVAN Gallery & Studios

    Eden Valley Artistic Network

    EVAN Gallery & Studios, 4 Corney Place, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7PX - Visit now

    A gallery and studio space displaying works by local artists – including paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, jewellery and textiles.

  • 24. Bank House

    Bank House
    Bank House B&B

    Bank House, Graham St, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9LE - Visit now

    Close to the centre of Penrith, Bank House is a stylish family-run bed and breakfast, in a Victorian house with a traditional garden.

  • 25. Appleby Castle

    Appleby Castle - Chris Hills

    Appleby Castle, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, CA16 6XH - Visit now

    Ever fancied sleeping in a 16th century four-poster bed, in a bona fide castle? Get a taste of Elizabethan aristocracy at Appleby Castle.

  • 26. The Chopping Block

    Chopping Block

    The Chopping Block, 5 Two Lions Square, New Squares, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7F - Visit now

    Independent butcher, deli and café The Chopping Block is a relatively new addition to Penrith’s foodie landscape.

Cinema 18–26 June 2021, from £50.88

Picnic Cinema: Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall

Picnic Cinema is back this September with a series of screenings of Withnail & I at Sleddale Hall aka Crow Crag — the cottage from the cult classic film.

Winter Droving Penrith
Families 26 October 2021 12:00 pm, FREE

The Winter Droving in Penrith

An incredible wonderland of outdoor arts, masquerade and pint carrying competitions in Penrith.

Literature 15–17 October 2021, from £14.00

Lakes International Comic Art Festival

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is back in the Cumbrian town of Kendal, bigger and better than ever, and with plenty of storytelling treats in both words and pictures.

Festivals 29 July–1 August 2021, from £22.00

Kendal Calling Festival 2021

Featuring over 200 artists and performers, immersive arts experiences and kids activities, Kendal Calling is a great, family-friendly festival set in the stunning Lake District.

Kendal Torchlight Carnival
Activity 24–26 September 2021, FREE

Kendal Torchlight Carnival

A great event for families with children. A parade of hand-made torches circulates the whole of Kendal, with local schools, businesses, and organisations competing to put on the best show.

Kendal Mountain Festival
Cinema 18–21 November 2021, FREE

Kendal Mountain Festival

The four-day Kendal Mountain Festival is always packed with exciting activities for everyone from children to pensioners. Happening virtually in 2021, this year’s event is no less of an outdoors extravaganza.

Festivals 25 July 2021 1:00 pm, FREE

Potfest in the Park

Elaborate vases, intricate centrepieces, and ceramics – Potfest in the Park celebrates the creative possibilities of clay.

Festivals 4–6 June 2021, FREE

Appleby Horse Fair

An annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Appleby in the form of a traditional fair where horses are washed, trotted and sold.

Vintage by the Sea
Families 4–5 September 2021, FREE

Vintage by the Sea in Morecambe

Celebrate the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment at this award-winning festival set around Morecambe’s famous art deco Midland Hotel.

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