I spend an inordinate amount of time using Wikipedia, reading almost entirely true articles about whatever I feel like, really. The longer I spend on it, the more obscure I go. Anyway, one morning recently I clicked onto Wikipedia and the featured article was a place I have actually been to, Brougham Castle near Penrith in Cumbria.
Penrith is a pleasant market town in Cumbria, not so far from Carlisle. The train journey down there is nice, rolling through glens at a decent lick. Right across from the train station is Penrith Castle, a ruined castle in red sandstone. When I was in Penrith, about five years ago, I was there mainly for curiosity at the next stop up the line but also because I had done some research and Brougham Castle was an interesting looking castle nearby. Before I went, I did some research and contacted the local tourist information centre who replied with very detailed instructions on how to get to Brougham. When I got there I walked around the town and stopped in at the tourist information centre where the world’s most helpful man was behind the counter. I then walked out to Brougham through suburban streets and country lanes. It is a stunning castle, a big place where I spent a while soaking in the atmosphere and looking down to the river.
My main memory is the walk back into Penrith. The day brightened up as I walked along country lanes towards Brougham Hall, a country house in the midst of restoration. As I recall, there were small craft stalls and shops in the courtyard. Further on I had to dodge sheep and their droppings to be in the midst of Mayburgh Henge, a high banked area with a standing stone in the centre. I imagined this being the centre of the community in Neolithic times, the scene of festivities and religious rites. Mainly I was trying to find somewhere to sit without landing in sheep shit but it was very fine indeed.
Before I left Penrith, I hoped to be back at some point soon to finally get to the Cumberland Pencil Museum in nearby Keswick. Five years or more later, I still haven’t been back and sadly the Pencil Museum is shut for refurbishment right now so it is still fairly down the list. Thankfully the Lake District is nearby and I’ve always wanted to go so you never know I finally could get there some point soon. We’ll see.