Tockholes, Penrith, Carlisle

Off we went on our first proper jaunt in SOK, the idea being to stay away a couple of weeks then head home to sort out the post.

Our first stop was the Royal Arms at Tockholes, Lancashire, where we met up with some rellies. Wednesday turned out to be steak night – hurrah!

The Royal Arms are happy for motorhomes to stay overnight in their car park, so that’s what we did, then on Thursday morning we did the obligatory walk up to Darwen Tower (just visible on the skyline in the first photo below) before departing.

Darwen Tower was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and opened in 1898.

There are lots and lots of places in the UK that, quite shamefully, neither of us has ever visited. Time to start remedying the situation! Our next stop was Penrith, where we were the only guests at Crossfells Campsite, about 3 miles out of town.

We walked into Penrith for the day on Friday and had a good look round the very pleasant town centre before checking out the ruins of Penrith Castle, built in the 15th century as a defence against the pesky Scots.

Initially, Penrith Castle belonged to the Neville family but in 1471 it was granted to Richard Duke of Gloucester who went on to become Richard III (he of “car park in Leicester” fame). Richard lived at Penrith Castle for long periods between 1471 and 1483 whilst Sheriff of Cumberland…..

We had another castle to visit on Saturday: Brougham Castle on the outskirts of Penrith.

This one belonged to the Clifford family. Although their ruins are more impressive, their royal connections couldn’t really compete with Penrith Castle’s: Edward I stayed here for one night in 1300 (a fact they’ve been milking for what, 700 years now and counting?).

The most interesting bit of information we learned here was a linguistic one. The Cliffords had another castle not far away called Brough Castle. It turns out that whilst Brough is pronounced “bruff”, Brougham is pronounced “broom”. Bizarre….

There was now no stopping us on our castle-quest. Off to Carlisle we went! Carlisle Castle has a fabulous history, being right in the firing line for all of the English-Scottish scraps that have taken place over the centuries.

The castle keep dates back to 1122-1135 (though the second storey was added later and the roof structure changed). Carlisle is apparently the most besieged castle in Britain, with plenty of people we’d heard of popping up in the tale, so we enjoyed the exhibition on the history of the place.

Carlisle town centre is a very short walk from the castle, so we had a good wander around. Carlisle Cathedral is another originally Norman building but not as big as it used to be as part of it was demolished and the stone used to reinforce the castle during the Civil War!

At Carlisle, we stayed for two nights on the Castle car park. It’s unglamorous, basically a little-used long-stay car park with the castle on one side and a railway line on the other, beloved of boy racers showing off their skills by night and learner drivers learning to park during the day….. The location was good though and it cost us a paltry £5.30 for two nights.

Our skinflintedness in Carlisle reminds me to mention that Mark is back on the Savings trail. Those who have been reading our whitterings for a while will know that in previous years, we’ve been members of the National Trust and Mark has kept a careful note of the admission prices of all the places we’ve visited (ie the amount we’ve “saved” by being members). It keeps him quiet…..

This year we’ve joined English Heritage. Mark was very disappointed that Penrith Castle was free, but has made a good start to his Savings List with Brougham and Carlisle Castles:

After a trilogy of castles, it’s time for something different so our next stop is Keswick,the Camping and Caravanning Club Site there having been recommended by the ever-reliable Yvonne and Adriana (her van… no prizes for guessing that Adriana is an Adria)…

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