Postcard from the Lake District, No 2

A long Weekend in the Lake District, Part Two

Festival Penrith and the Winter Droving

Obviously, if you are coming to the Lake District for a long weekend the last thing you need is someone running your life. Have a leisurely breakfast; watch the rain from your lodge window and plan the rest of your day. At this point it might make sense to have made sure that where you are staying is on a bus route to Penrith. Traffic on festival day can be annoying. Besides streams, rivers, lakes and mountains there are all kinds of things to see and do in Cumbria. The house where William Wordsworth lived as a boy is in nearby Cockermouth and Carlisle has an interesting Museum in a building called Tullie House. Rheged Visitor Centre, just outside Penrith often has an exhibition or a “fayre” of one kind or another. In between downpours you might even want to take a walk around the village where you are staying, you may come across a roll of rusty wire.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Some Rusty Wire

Head into Penrith after lunch, not too early, but soon enough to have a good walk around the town, see some of the more interesting “sights” visit a couple of the local shops (J J Grahams is an eclectic little deli that has been trading in the same position for a couple of hundred years. There will be music; lots of it folk based, but “rock” bands too, street artists and other quirky things going on. Lots of stalls selling local produce to eat or take away and a Penrith institution, a Mexican restaurant called Salsa, will sell you a decent portion of spicy veg stew and rice for £4.50.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Some Street Musicians

As darkness begins to fall it makes sense to find a decent place to stand to get a good view of proceedings. The streets will be packed with people of all ages, from BOTH the local area and further afield, enjoying the music and the rest of the entertainment. You might even see one or two people joining in, though there is always an element of northern stoicism on show. That is of course until drink has been taken.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Two Cumbrian Fell Farmers, in town for the day

To get primed up for the evening I recommend Fell Brewery Taps, a quirky little bar on the main street selling a range of beers from the brewery at Flookburgh, along with unusual ciders and a wide range of spirits and wines. I particularly commend the Ghyll Golden Ale. The bar is tiny but has seating upstairs, make yourselves at home.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Fell Brewery Taps (so much choice, so little time)

At around 7 pm the procession starts to come through the town, this is The Winter Droving. Floats and people dressed in costumes and a range of masks, accompanied by musicians, parade through the streets in a celebration of Penrith.
The best description of it is from the website;

The Winter Droving is a magical festival in Penrith that celebrates all things rural, traditional and fun. The event highlight is a torch lit procession through the town featuring fire, lanterns, masquerade and music and mayhem.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
A Participant

The head of the procession is usually a head, of a Herdwick Ram. This year there were also wolves, a pig, a stag, a pair of swans and several other floats. The evening is noisy, raucous and very “northern”. I think you might enjoy it.

Coloniescross, Going Postal
Rams Head Lantern

By 8pm the procession is over. Stay in town, listen to the music, eat and drink or, if you fancy doing something else, go for it. Be warned though, Sunday promises to be another full day.
 

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