Penrith: Caravan & Motorhome Touring Guide
If you’re coming to visit us here at Adventure Leisure Vehicles, why not explore our local area? You’ll find us 20 minutes south of Penrith, in a beautiful part of the country with the Lake District on one side and the Yorkshire Dales National Park on the other. It’s a fantastic location for those who like exploring the outdoors and a great destination for a caravan or motorhome trip.
Penrith is a pretty town with buildings made from the distinctive local red sandstone and you can spend a happy afternoon exploring the winding streets and alleyways discovering shops and markets along the way. The area has a rich history dating back to the Neolithic period and there are castles and stately homes which are well worth a visit. There are many adventures to be had on the waters of Ullswater or climbing one of the hills in the area for spectacular panoramic views of the Eden Valley and the Lake District. After a busy day exploring, you won’t be short on places to refuel as there are plenty of fantastic pubs and restaurants serving up the highest quality local produce.
Things to do in and around Penrith
Discover the historical sites
With such a long and rich history, it’s not surprising that there is plenty to see in Penrith. Visit the medieval ruins of Penrith Castle and Brougham Castle, both of which played key roles in defending the area from Scottish invaders many centuries ago.
Brougham Castle, set in the meadows on the banks of the River Eamont, was abandoned around 300 years ago and has now become a charming ruin. You can explore spiral staircases and imagine where the many passageways used to lead. Not as much survives of Penrith Castle’s original structure, which was largely pulled down in the 17th century. However, some of the walls still reach their original height and the ruins are accessed via a footbridge across the moat. Richard III lived here for a while before he became king.
There’s also the Stone Circle of Long Meg and Her Daughters, one of the finest examples of stone circles in the north of England and thought to date back to around 1500 BC. Long Meg is the largest of the stones and you can still see the megalithic etchings on the surface. Legend has it that the circle was a coven of witches who were turned into stone.
For an overview of the local history, visit the Penrith and Eden Museum where you’ll find the town’s medieval seal and some Roman treasure discovered in the area. There’s also a collection of fine art and you’ll discover the stories of some prominent local figures.
Climb Beacon Hill
For some beautiful views of the local area, climb to the top of Beacon Hill. There’s a trail just off Beacon Edge Road which will take you to the top of the 286-metre hill and back in around an hour. From the top, there are stunning views of Penrith and the Eden Valley. You’ll also be able to see some of the bigger peaks of the Lake District and if you look north, you can even see all the way to Scotland.
Spend the day at Ullswater
Arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, Ullswater is a glacial ribbon lake which winds its way through the surrounding Fells. Wander along the shores or hop on one of the steamers at Pooley Bridge and take in the scenery from the water. If you’re looking for something a little more active, Waterfoot Park is a ten minute walk from Pooley Bridge and offers hire of equipment for all sorts of water sports, from canoeing to paddle boarding and sailing.
While you’re in the area, don’t miss one of the Lake District’s most impressive waterfalls. On the west side of Ullswater, you’ll find Aira Falls, where water cascades 21-metres down amidst some magical scenery. The gorge where you’ll find the waterfall was landscaped in the 19th century by the Howard family and you’ll find a spectacular array of trees, such as cedars, pines and firs and even a 35 metre high Stika spruce. You can take in the majestic scene from two bridges, one at the top of the falls and one at the bottom.
On the other side of Ullswater, you’ll find Hallin Fell which commands a spectacular view, being surrounded by the lake on three sides. Despite being 388-metres high, you don’t need to be a particularly experienced hiker to reach the top as the path is an easy one. In fact, park up at the church of St Peter on the southern side and you can be enjoying the views from the top in about half an hour. On the way up, take a breather and look back over the stunning Martindale fells. When you get to the peak, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views across Ullswater, surrounded by the commanding peaks of Blencathra and Helvellyn.
Visit the stately homes
The area is home to some stunning houses and gardens which make for fascinating days out. For example, Lowther Castle and Gardens is a spectacular example of Gothic architecture with towers, vaulted galleries and crenelations at every turn. The grand gardens are laid out in stately terraces and avenues, lined with trees and stone urns. It’s also home to the largest wooden playground in the country, The Lost Castle.
Hutton-in-the-Forest is also well worth a visit. This Gothic house has evolved over the years from the original Medieval pele tower to a grand stately home as each generation added to the buildings. This is a real journey through the ages of architecture and style.
Places to eat in Penrith
Treat yourself to some delicious meals while visiting Penrith and make sure you tuck into some of the local produce. The area is one of the richest agricultural spots in the country and the locals are very proud of their food and drink heritage. Stock up at one of the farmers’ markets, enjoy some delicious coffee and cake at one of the delightful independent cafes, refuel with a hearty pub lunch or indulge in some fine dining.
The Four and Twenty is a restaurant with a warm and welcoming atmosphere serving up delicious locally sourced food. If you’re in need of some comfort food and a relaxed atmosphere head to one of the pubs. There’s The Clickham Inn with traditional decor and a great menu, The Dog & Gun Inn and the Queen’s Head Inn to name a few.
You’ll find a wide range of cuisines on offer, from the authentic Italian food served up at Gianni’s Ristorante to the traditional tapas on offer at La Casita to the Salsa Mexican Bistro which uses locally sourced ingredients to create delicious Mexican dishes.
Camping spots in and around Penrith
There are plenty of campsites in the area around Penrith. Here are some of the top sites that have pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and campervans within 10 miles of the town.
Lazonby Campsite is a quiet campsite in a beautiful spot near the River Eden with the Pennine Fells offering some spectacular scenery.
Ullswater Holiday Park is a spacious, family-friendly campsite a 30-minute walk from Lake Ullswater and with plenty of facilities on-site.
Mains Farm Camping and Caravan Site is popular with keen cyclists and anglers and located around 7 miles north of Penrith.
Where to stay in Penrith if you haven’t brought your leisure vehicle
There are also plenty of hotels and B&Bs if you haven’t brought your leisure vehicle this time. From the grand hotel at Askham Hall, once the medieval family home of the Earls of Lonsdale, to the cosy atmosphere at the George and Dragon, known for its excellent food, you’re spoilt for choice. We’d also recommend the delightful Howtown Hotel near the shores of Ullswater, which has been frequented by visitors to the Lake District for more than 120 years.