Penrith is a popular destination in the Lake District. Here’s a complete guide to the best things to do in Penrith and surrounding areas.
1. Aira Force Waterfall
Aira Force Waterfall is located adjacent to Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District and one of the main attractions in the region.
The entrance can be found roughly 6 miles from the small town of Pooley Bridge, and 12 miles from the popular town of Penrith.
Aira Force Waterfall is the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, with the main tier standing at 70 feet high.
The hike itself, it’s just a short circle route through the forests and up some steps to reach the Aira Force viewing points.
The trails are great for kids and dogs, however unfortunately they’re not wheelchair friendly.
Honestly the walk is a very short one in exchange for the views you get in return, and should be a breeze for anyone that’s moderately fit. We saw plenty of elderly couples on the way up.
The facilities were great, there is a toilet block in the car park, and you can even venture on past the Aira Force Waterfall to the Park Brow car park or High Cascades car park.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in England at seven and a half miles long, but less than a mile across. It is also the third deepest English lake at 250 feet deep. This lovely lake is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery.
Whether you want to take in the breathtaking views from some of the UK’s highest peaks, take a trip on the steamer across the lake, or abseil down a cliff there is something to keep everyone occupied.
The Ullswater Way is a 20 mile walking route that circles around the whole of Ullswater lake.
You can complete the walk in one go, or do a smaller section combined with a boat trip or bus ride.
There’s plenty of attractions around Ullswater to keep you occupied, like sailing and canoeing on the lake, taking a pony ride across the fells, rock climbing, as well as abseiling down a cliff.
Towns and villages around Ullswater include, Glenridding, Patterdale, Pooley Bridge, Howtown, Brotherswater and Hartsop, Kirkstone Pass, Martindale, Dacre.
Travelling to Ullswater can be simple. Bus service 508 runs from Penrith Station to Pooley Bridge, Aira Force, Glenridding and Patterdale all year round.
In summer it continues over Kirkstone Pass to Windermere. Timetables can be found in Stagecoach’s Lakes Connection.
The nearest train station to Ullswater is Penrith Station.
Alternatively, Lake District: Ten Lakes Full-Day Tour will take you on a relaxed tour around all the lakes.
Ullswater is the perfect, tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
3. Pooley Bridge
Pooley Bridge is a village in the Eden District of the northwestern English county of Cumbria.
Today it is a beautiful, busy village visited by many tourists. It has a great range of unique shops and pubs, and is easily accessible by car from the M6.
The name Pooley Bridge derives from a large pool in the River Eamont, ‘The Hill By The Pool’. The ‘Bridge’ part of the name was added in 1800.
Whilst you’re Pooley Bridge, it’s a great opportunity to get on the Ullswater steamers. This boat service has been running over 160 years!
It connects a few great spots on the lake, making it a handy service if you either want to get out on the water for a lovely trip or fancy visiting some other towns or attractions nearby.
The boats connect Pooley Bridge, Howtown, Glenridding and Aira Force.
4. Walla Crag Walk
Walla Crag is a 379m high fell (a barren landscape feature) located near the town of Keswick in the Lake District.
With it being a fairly low level trail, it still offers outstanding views of Derwent Water, as well as panoramas over Bassenthwaite Lake in the North and the jaws of Borrowdale in the South too.
Families do the Walla Crag Walk all the time, so it’s certainly achievable for children. Dogs are welcome on the trail too. However, you will pass lots of sheep on the way up so be careful not to disturb them.
When we visited in October, it wasn’t busy at all so our time spend up there was pretty peaceful. We perched ourselves on a rock with our picnic and enjoyed the stunning views.
There are a two starting points for the popular Walla Crag walk, depending on how much time you have or how active a trekker you are.
5. Keswick Town
Keswick is a market town in northwest England’s Lake District National Park, situated between the huge bulk of Skiddaw and the gentle beauty of Derwentwater.
This town has become the major centre for tourism in the Northern part of the Lake District.
The beautiful little market town offers lots of different activity opportunities, from shops and restaurants to museums and boating trips around lake Derwentwater.
Their high street includes many mainstream shops, as well as small local businesses too. There’s a fair few charity shops on their shopping strip too. It’s fair to say we were in our element.
Keswick Market is of great quality and brings many locals and visitors to the town. The general market stands every Saturday and Thursday, all depending the weather.
In the centre of the Market Square is the Moot Hall, now home to the Tourist Information Centre.
It is also a common starting point for the popular Walla Crag Walk.
A lot of people are drawn to Keswick for the many different walks. Boots can be hired from the George Fisher’s shop on Lake Road.
Ghyll Scrambling is very popular in Kewsick, as is water sports.There are also 2 indoor climbing walls, several mountain bike hire shops and a hefty collection of outdoor gear shops.
Glamping is becoming very popular near Keswick too, with a great choice of many beautiful sites.
You can even go on guided Alpaca walks in Keswick, if that’s your thing.
Also, the Lake District: Ten Lakes Full-Day Tour stops for lunch in Keswick if you are thinking of doing a tour of the lakes.
6. Lowther Castle
Lowther Castle is located just outside the small village of Lowther, in the very North East corner of the Lake District region.
From the history and artefacts on show, to the 130-acres of gardens on Lowther estate, there’s something for everyone at Lowther Castle.
There are even tree swings and dens for the children, and scrumptious foods on offer in the cafe. It’s a great day out for families, couples or solo travellers too.
We visited in October, and the Autumn colours were out in full force. As we entered through the grand gateway we were greeted by old stables, where refreshments and toilets are available. There was even a food truck selling baked potatoes!
We moved through to the museum, learning about some of the history behind Lowther Castle and taking photos of the exhibitions on our way.
The vegetarian Viscount Lonsdale, Wicked Jimmy and the Yellow Earl are all prominent characters in the exhibitions and Lowther Castle has done a great job of making them fun.
7. Rent Bicycles & Explore
Road cyclists and mountain bikers are spoilt for choice in the Lake District. There are a range of country lanes, permitted cycleways as well as bridleways to suit all experience levels, and you can be sure of fantastic views along the way!
Penrith is a great place to get around on bike. We used e-bikes to get to Aira Force Waterfall, explore Ullswater and get around Pooley Bridge too. All whilst taking in the most incredible views and feeling the fresh air.
We highly recommend hiring bikes when looking for things to do in Penrith as it allows you to embrace every aspect of the outdoors and see more places whilst doing it. You can lock your bikes up when exploring the all the different tourist attractions around Penrith.
We rented our bikes from Arragon’s Cycles and we can highly recommend them. If you’re a hard-core cyclist and don’t fancy the electric bikes then that’s an option in Penrith too.
Arragon’s Cycles is an Independent bicycle store based in Penrith, Cumbria with over 50 years experience. They stock a huge variety of cycle equipment.
Have fun exploring in and around the wonderful Penrith!
Where To Stay In The Lake District
Luxury – Lakes Hotel & Spa
This luxurious hotel is perfectly situated with views of Lake Windermere, a short stroll from the village of Bowness-on-Windermere.
The hotel can arrange collection from Windemere station which is just 10 minutes away.
Lakes Hotel & Spa has some of the best on-site facilities in the area, half of the rooms with hot tubs on private balconies. There’s also an on-site spa, a stylish restaurant and a cocktail bar. As well as bike hire, wakesurfing and paddleboading.
There are many walks that you can take straight from the hotel gates, and there are even boats that travel the length of Windermere, making it easy to visit surrounding areas.
Mid-Budget – The George Hotel by Best Western
This traditional hotel stands in the very centre of the bustling market town of Penrith.
Free parking and free Wi-Fi is available at the property. Meals are available to enjoy in the intimate, candlelit Devonshire restaurant which boasts a beautiful open fire.
The wood panelling and old local wall prints combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where many generations of loyal visitors have returned time after time.
Budget – Albany House
Located in Penrith, Albany House offers bed-and-breakfast accommodation with free WiFi access throughout.
Guests benefit from free public parking facilities near the accommodation. The property also boasts a 4 gold-star rating from the AA, along with breakfast awards.
Rooms at Albany House B&B come with a flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities and either an en-suite or external bathroom.
Breakfast is available between 8:00 and 9:00 every morning in the common breakfast room.
For more places to stay in the Lake District, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.
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Lowther Castle & Gardens – A Complete Guide To Visiting
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Aira Force Waterfall Penrith – A Complete Guide To Visiting
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