The Lake District is due to get even more popular after Taylor Swift dedicated a song to the national park. Rob Crossan visited the area and was just as blown away as the pop star.
We’ve come on holiday by mistake, said Richard E. Grant in the cult movie classic Withnail And I, where two unemployed actors in late 1960s London head to Penrith for some rest and recuperation in a semi-derelict cottage.
Half a century on from the film’s grim depiction of this corner of Cumbria, the only mistake I think I’ve made is why it’s taken me so long to discover this cute-as-a-button market town with a distinct lack of chintzy pretence and its handy location on the West Coast main line.
The history of the town elbows its way into my line of vision the second I alight from the train. Brooding and forlorn, the ruins of Penrith Castle lie directly opposite the station building.
The town itself has a stout, redoubtable quality: tidy, cobbled squares, redbrick Victorian edifices and narrow lanes of cottages so inviting I had to stop myself from simply letting myself in and dozing off on an armchair in front of the fire.
The food is every bit as robust as you’d expect. Cranstons, the butchers, serves almost indecently plump Cumberland sausages, with fillings from black pudding to marmalade.