Penrith Rail Station

Penrith Rail Station (ATGImages/

Lying just three-miles outside of the Lake District borders, Penrith is an excellent base for exploring both the north-east fells and the rich pastures of the Eden Valley. Penrith is distinctive from the majority of its Cumbrian rivals, as many of the buildings have been created from the local red sandstone giving the town its nickname of "Old Red Town".

Penrith has a population of around 15,000 and its excellent transport links makes it a popular stopping point for visitors to the Lake District.

Top Penrith Hotels

Just a mere three-miles outside of the Lake District National Park borders, Penrith is a great base for those looking to explore the North-East. Here we've included our top picks for hotels in and around the Penrith area with Glenridding House located along the picturesque shores of Ullswater, which is about a 15-20 minute drive from the Penrith centre.


There is evidence of settlements in and around the Penrith area dating back to the Neolithic period with a series of ancient monuments in the area. The Romans arrived in Cumbria in AD 72 and established the forts Voreda, five miles north of the town, and Brocavum, located two miles south-east of the town and later the site of Brougham Castle.

Following the Roman withdrawal the town became a melting pot of invading cultures, with regular skirmishes between the kingdoms of Rheged (Cumbria), Northumbria, Strathclyde, and Norse settlers from Ireland.

Later the town would become an area contested by the Scottish and English kingdoms with control regularly passing between the two. During this difficult time a number of castles and forts were constructed in the area. The town also became a market town during this time, and regular markets, including sheep markets, that are still held today, are an important part of the local economy.


Penrith has a good mixture of independent and nationally owned shops spread amongst its higgledy-piggledy streets and alleyways, and its complex geography means it can be easy to miss large parts of the central shopping centre.

Food is an important part of the Cumbrian economy, and in Penrith you can sample local goods from artisan producers, including fudge and toffee from the Toffee Shop that has been in operation for over 100 years. The town also has an excellent selection of arts and crafts shops, as well as outdoor shops catering for those seeking to explore the fells.

Key Attractions

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith is brimming with history, and there is a lot to see for history buffs, including the stone circle of Long Meg and Her Daughters and the circular earthwork of King Arthur’s Round Table, both on the outskirts of the town. Penrith Castle and Brougham Castle are both fantastic medieval ruins that will take you back to a time of extraordinary battles and both of which are administered by English Heritage.

The town’s historical sites can be explored further at the Coronation Garden where there is a series of informative panels and activity packs for children are available from the Tourist Information Centre.

The town is an ideal base for exploring the north-east fells and lakes of the Lake District. Ullswater is approximately 10-miles from the town and here you can enjoy a lake cruise on one of the steamers, or attempt to conquer the heights of Helvellyn with its terrifying ridge walk along Striding Edge.

Getting There

By Car – Exit the M6 at Junction 40 and you will find yourself on the edge of the town. Follow the signs to Penrith to get to the town centre, and you will find a number of car parks there.

By Public Transport – Penrith Rail Station is situated on the West Coast Main Line and services from the town to Scotland, the North-West, the Midlands, and London are frequently available. The station is located on the edge of the town and there are regular bus services departing from the station car park both to the town centre and across Cumbria.