The nearest town to Ullswater – just four miles from the head of the lake – is PENRITH, whose brisk streets actually have more in common with the towns of the North Pennines than the stone villages of south Cumbria. The local building materials emphasize the geographic shift, with its deep-red buildings erected from the same rust-red sandstone used to construct Penrith Castle in the fourteenth century; this is now a romantic, crumbling ruin, opposite the train station. The town itself is at its best in the narrow streets, arcades and alleys off Market Square, and around St Andrew’s churchyard, where the so-called “Giant’s Grave” is actually a collection of pre-Norman crosses and “hogback” tombstones.

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