Is there stuff to do and see around Penrith, Cumbria--other than walking on unpaved paths--that would be accessible to a traveler depending on public transportation? I promise to do some guidebook research, but input from folks familiar with that area might save me some time.
I’ve just learned about two large ceramics fairs near Penrith in late July and early August next year, and I’d really, really like to get to at least one of them. Prior to this discovery I was tentatively planning to leave Edinburgh on July 31 (after taking advantage of the Arts Festival that begins on July 25) and head to Durham, York/Yorkshire and ultimately to London. I plan to be out of Scotland by the time the big Edinburgh festivals begin in August.
I see that Penrith has decent rail connections to Edinburgh and not-impossible ones to Durham, though the latter is slow enough that it should probably be considered a scenic (I hope) excursion.
These are the ceramics events, in case someone else is interested:
Potfest in the Park (juried—overall quality will be better), July 26-28, at Hutton-in-the-Forest. This location is about 6 miles from Penrith, with one round-trip bus per week (on Fridays) that seems to pass fairly near the venue, but I don’t know whether it would be safe to walk the rest of the way; will the roads have shoulders? Taking advantage of that bus might well require spending the previous night in or near Penrith (may be challenging due to competition from ceramics vendors and other customers needing hotel rooms). There’s stuff to see at Hutton-in-the-Forest itself; it seems as if it would make for a nice day, so I might need to spend two nights locally. I would almost certainly want to return to Edinburgh after this fair rather than immediately heading across to Durham.
Potfest in the Pens (not juried), August 2-4, at Skirsgill Mart. This location is about 2 miles outside Penrith with apparently no public transportation, but a taxi shouldn’t be exorbitant. The timing of this fair would free me of the need to return to Scotland to take advantage of the Arts Festival.
If I were to add a few nights in or near Penrith to my itinerary, could I use the time productively? I am aware that Penrith is practically in the Lake District National Park. What I’m not sure of is how worthwhile I will find that, given that I will have just spent at least 3 weeks in Scotland and cannot do rural walks (bad balance—I can walk forever on pavement). There are always trade-offs: Time in Penrith will cut into time that would otherwise be spent in Edinburgh or Yorkshire. Having two weeks at the end of the trip in London is non-negotiable.
So: Should I try to do this with the minimum amount of time in Penrith, just enough for one of the ceramics fairs, or should I add some sightseeing time?
There will be no rental car. My friend and I both have poor vision and are not willing to risk it. ‘Tis a pity, I know.
Thanks for your insight.