The modern administrative capital of the Eden Valley, Penrith is a working Cumbrian town hewn of red sandstone. It's not without its attractions, including an interesting town centre and a distinctive ruined castle, and makes a good base for exploring both the Eden Valley and the Northern Lake District.
A stroll around the centre of town reveals some interesting and historic buildings, including St Andrew's Church (built 1720), designed by the renowned architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. The grave of Owen Cesario, a King of ancient Cumbria, is within the grounds.
The Gloucester Arms Hotel in the market square is one of the town's oldest remaining buildings, dating from the 15th Century.
The Devonshire Arcade is an attractive group of independent shops tucked away behind the George Hotel.
Penrith's castle is an imposing ruin, set at the highest point in town opposite the station. Built in the 14th Century to keep out marauding Scots, only the outer walls now remain. It's still worth a visit though, not least to stroll around the lanscaped Castle Park in the grounds of the castle.
Holding the somewhat bizarre accolade of 'Europe's Largest Grass-covered Building', the Rheged Visitor Centre is an unusual experience. The attraction centres on a film celebrating the region's history and culture, shown on a vast IMax screen ('the size of four double-decker buses'). The rest of the building holds an exhibition of the work of Eden's artisanal craftspeople.
An easy and pleasant excursion from Penrith, a short path leads from Beacon Edge to the Beacon, built as an early warning system to be used in times of war. At one time a chain of beacons stretched across Cumbria - now only Penrith's remains. On a clear day the top of Beacon Hill is a good vantage point for the town and the Eastern mountains of the Northern Lake District.
Certainly the best attended annual event in Penrith, the Penrith Agricultural Show is one of the biggest country fairs in Cumbria. This is a great insight into working Cumbria - the show isn't just a superb display of beasts and fowl, including many handsome traditional breeds, but an exhibition of rural sports and crafts including Show Jumping, Motorcycle Scrambling and Sheepdog Trials.
4th Saturday in July
Tickets can be extortionate, particularly walk-on fares. It's worth booking fairly well in advance, and check Megatrain to see if you can pick up any heavily discounted tickets for your route.
Penrith is easily accessed by road, being on the junction of the M6, A6 and A66 routes. It's worth noting that these routes can occasionally be closed by heavy snowfall in winter.
National Express offer services to Penrith from around the country.
Penrith is fairly compact place, easily explored on foot.
Anywhere that isn't easily reached on foot, including the Rheged visitor centre, can be reached by bus. Buses leave from the town's bus station, at Sandgate in the centre of town, or from the station.
|YHA Patterdale||Penrith Cumbria||Hostel||-|
|Fellfoot Independent Hostel||10 Fell Lane||Hostel||01768 840327||-|
|The George Hotel||Devonshire Street||Hotel||-|
|North Lakes Hotel and Spa||Ullswater Road||Hotel||01768 868111||-|
|The Roundthorn Country House Hotel||Beacon Edge||Hotel||01768 863952||-|
There are also a wide range of Bed & Breakfast options offering mid-priced accommodation in Penrith and the surrounding area.
The Number 15 Cafe Bar (see above) offer free wi-fi access.
Penrith Library, St Andrews Churchyard, has a free terminal for Internet access.
Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.
Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.
The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Penrith searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Penrith and areas nearby.
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