There’s fun for all the family in Penrith. Kids will love the Rheged Centre and its selection of activities; history fans will enjoy Lowther Castle and Penrith and Eden Museum; and fans of the outdoors are spoilt for choice of things to do.
Activities in Penrith
Lowther Castle & Gardens
One of the biggest and best attractions in Cumbria, Lowther Castle & Gardens is a 19th-century castle once home to the Earl of Lonsdale. In its prime, the castle had a room for every day of the year. However, having lain abandoned for decades, it was internally demolished in 1957, leaving just the outer walls remaining. The once-immaculate gardens became overgrown, and the only visitors the castle received were the local wildlife.
Skip to the present day, and Lowther Castle & Gardens has undergone somewhat of a resurrection. The grounds and gardens are beautifully landscaped, and the building’s history is carefully presented as you make your way around the ruins, including the exhibition that tells ‘The Story of Lowther’. As well as fascinating history, there’s an adventure playground for kids to enjoy and cycle hire available to explore the grounds on two wheels. The entry fee is reasonable, with discounts for children, and it is open all year-round.
Lowther Castle and Gardens
Ullswater is the second-largest lake in the Lake District and arguably the most beautiful. You can admire its beauty by taking a trip on a cruise with Ullswater ‘Steamers’. The lake is located just a few miles south-west of Penrith, with the nearest pier to our Penrith hotel located at Pooley Bridge. You may wish to admire the lake and nearby mountain landscapes with a round trip or stop off at one of the other piers (Glenridding, Aira Force and Howtown) for a few hours before heading back. The cruises have outdoor seating, licensed bars serving refreshments and toilets. Tickets are reasonably priced, and discounts for children and family tickets are available.
Built into the Cumbrian landscape with a grass roof, the Rheged Centre is a unique entertainment complex complete with a (deep breath) cinema, theatre, art gallery, outdoor play area, spa, shopping and food. As well as showing all the latest blockbusters at the cinema, they also have a packed schedule of exhibitions, fairs, talks and workshops. Rheged is owned by the same people who run Tebay and Gloucester motorway services, and if you’ve ever stopped off there on your travels, then you’ll have an idea of the high-quality fare on offer. Be sure to check out what’s on during your stay, and pay a visit to Penrith’s biggest family attraction.
Situated just off Ullswater, and one of the stops on the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ boat trips, Aira Force is a magnificent 65-feet-high waterfall flowing from the Aira Beck. It lies on the National Trust Gowbarrow Park and has parking and toilet facilities as well as a lovely steam room. Ramble through the well-kept walking trails, discover the impressive range of trees, home to the rare red squirrel and marvel at the breathtaking power of nature.
The Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has an abundance of fells with ranging levels of height and difficulty. Hallin Fell near Penrith is one of the more beginner-friendly climbs and offers some of the most stunning views over Ullswater. The circular trail to the top is approximately one mile long and takes the average walker around an hour to get up and back down. There are paths all the way up that are suitable for both adults and children with moderate levels of fitness. We recommend starting your ascent opposite St. Peter’s Church near Martindale where parking is free. For advice on the best clothing and equipment before setting off on a hike, as well as some more challenging routes, take a look at our guide to hiking in the UK.
Penrith and Eden Museum
Telling the story of Penrith and the Eden Valley throughout the ages, Penrith and Eden Museum is a fascinating exploration of the town’s history. From a fossilised dinosaur footprint to Stone Age and Roman artefacts, fine arts and memorabilia related to William Jameson, a legendary wrestler from the area. The museum was recently featured on the BBC TV show ‘Antiques Road Trip’ and draws in tourists and locals every day in the summer and from Monday to Saturday in the winter. Entry is free, and the museum is located in the old Robinson’s School building on Middlegate in the town centre.