Possible relocation to Penrith - what is the area like?

(27 Posts)
Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 10:49:30

DH has got a possibility of a job in Penrith. I am terrified that he will get the move and then we will have to go without having seen it first. It's too far to travel there to see it before he has to make the decision.
We are currently in South London and I think we would like to move somewhere a bit cheaper to buy a house, and ideally a greener environment for the children to grow up.
Having said that, it feels like a very radical change moving from one of the most populated areas in the country to one of the sparsest. There is so much to do in London and all the museums/culture on the doorstep.
Has anyone either lived there or visited and have any tips on what it is like, particularly for parents and children, and general advice about locations?
All I know is the bit I have dredged from the internet over the past two days, but there really isn't much info. It looks very nice from what I have seen.
So grateful if anyone has any info/opinion at all.

Marina Tue 09-Jan-07 11:08:53

I have visited Penrith a few times but not lived there.
It seems like quite a pleasant town, with some good small independent shops (eg a lovely traditional grocers selling local produce), it had a big, well-stocked Co-op department store when I was there, it has well-reputed secondary schools and of course stunning countryside, both the Lake District and the Eden Valley, close by.
I have to say that it seems a long way from anywhere bigger - Carlisle is your nearest city, or Newcastle. The Sands Centre in Carlisle has a good, general lively arts programme, with pop, opera, touring theatre and plenty more going on. The RSC and the NT have toured there, I believe. The Tullie House is an imaginatively refurbished small museum which is child-friendly.
I do know from my parents having lived in both Cockermouth and Carlisle, that to some Penrith is considered snobby and insular. It definitely has a posher ambiance than either of the other two places I mention and I think property prices are that bit higher.
There are some lovely outlying villages, some on the Carlisle-Settle railway line, eg Melmerby with lovely pub and the Village Bakery, and Langwathby, which with blissful optimism apparently has an open-air swimming pool (I may have been hallucinating though).
You need chatee, or rhubarb, or anteater - one of the Cumbrian Mners, to give you the lowdown.
Personally, I'd give the option serious consideration. For the schools alone, and for the more peaceful environment. Penrith proper is actually quite congested though, because of the narrow streets. And Melmerby has a busy main road going through it.
I don't get up there much now because my parents relocated and I think the area has a lot going for it. But not sight unseen!

Cappuccino Tue 09-Jan-07 11:13:06

I used to work for a newspaper which was near Penrith; didn't go a lot

one observation - you have to be careful buying a house in a rural area like that since there is still a lot of prejudice against 'offcomers' (ie people whose grandparents weren't born there)

so if you were looking to househunt, beware of the pretty house in the lovely little village, since they may never speak to you. it's worth looking at the make-up of the area

of course equally they may be lovely. or offcomers themselves

Marina Tue 09-Jan-07 11:26:46

You said it, I wimped out Cappuccino. I would not put rural Cumbria at the head of a list of Areas Welcoming Offcomers. and, sigh, especially not East Cumbria and round Penrith
Cockermouth was pretty good and Carlisle being larger and more urban was too.

bluesky Tue 09-Jan-07 13:34:43

I lived there when I was little, just between Penrith and Lake Ullswater, I have such strong lovely memories from living there, and love taking my 2 ds's back there, just to make them WOW at hills!!

Penrith is a good sized town, and as Marina says you can go to Carlisle or Newcastle for bigger shopping. The grocers in the square is amazing and I recently got them to do my Dad a hamper for his birthday, that bought back some great memories!

I would see it as a great opportunity to live and try somewhere different, as it is SO different to living the life and pace of life in South London.

It was hard for my parents to move back down south afterwards as there was a much bigger difference between house prices then, beware of that.

When buying make sure you aren't on a main tourist road, as it does get very busy in the summer.

Good luck

Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 13:40:40

Thank you Marina and Cappucino for your advice - something no tourist info would ever reveal! Lots of food for thought.

I am very wary of moving somewhere that people are resentful of (as they call them in the NE) 'incomers', although I think they are all getting more used to it, because there are so many. Don't want to be a victim of some kind of dirty tricks campaign though. One of the big reasons for considering moving away from London is the perceived friendliness of the North!

I grew up in Lancashire, so have a slight north west accent, but that might be even more sneered at than a London one?

We could always live in Carlisle and commute to Penrith? That would make it easier for me to get a job as well.

Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 13:44:27

Thanks bluesky - X posts so didn't get your advice. You have summed up everything I feel about it - hills, green space, slower pace of life etc. I am feeling that we are stuck in a rut here because of house prices. I work part time and we are both pretty well paid, but we could never afford any house here.

I am very nervous of making enemies there by buying a house, but am hoping to try the principle of just being so nice, welcoming and homely that people will start to let us into the circle.

Not sure we would ever move south again, although since we can't afford a house anyway, I feel like we haven't got a lot to lose! But great advice.

FioFio Tue 09-Jan-07 13:44:34

Message withdrawn

JoolsToo Tue 09-Jan-07 13:45:55

We moved to SOuth Lakes in 2004 the locals have been very friendly indeed, no resentment. There again it may be different further north.

Apart from the family aspect I hate going back to Manchester now.

Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 13:48:46

LOL Joolstoo - I am wondering if anywhere could be less friendly to a newcomer than London!

I will definitely bear these comments in mind though. Will probably rent for a while before deciding to buy, and give myself 6 months before looking for a job so I have a chance to get to know some people.

It took me a long time to meet people before I had children, but since having them I find it better.

Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 17:06:11

Have been thinking about these comments all day. I actually feel very sheepish for saying London is unfriendly - it has handled a huge influx of people from all over the world and this country, and I have never felt excluded here. I think people have been very welcoming.

Am so glad that I asked the question, because it has made me re-evaluate the decision in the light of the snobbish/insular thing. I would hate to move somewhere and feel unwelcome. I think we will stay here and keep trying to buy a house. Time for that life-crippling mortgage then.

Cappuccino Tue 09-Jan-07 19:36:35

oh god I didn't mean to put you off! I wasn't talking for the whole of Penrith

just little villages - they're the worst and the prettiest, that's all I was saying

if no-one talks to you you can always come and see me; I live about 50 mins away

Cappuccino Tue 09-Jan-07 19:37:32

why don't you go and have a long weekend there and a look round? The Lakes are good for a break whether or not you decide to stay. Read the local papers and mooch about a bit.

bigwuss Tue 09-Jan-07 19:49:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marina Tue 09-Jan-07 20:17:33

"wetter than London", I'll say
But cloudhopper, don't let our slight concerns about how Southerners might settle in put you off. In your shoes personally I would think of living in Carlisle, which I think is a very nice city indeed. Whoever on the thread suggested a long weekend up there was wise - if you don't know the area, prepare to be stunned by the lush countryside with mountain backdrop. And you are quite close to the seaside, albeit rather big-sky and bracing. Fab marsh and dunes on the Solway Firth and even a mini resort at Allonby.
And yes, there is less cultural choice than in London...but because it's limited, you tend to make more of it IYSWIM? My parents went to more concerts and theatre visits in Cockermouth (coaches laid on to Carlisle) than they ever did in 30 years of London life. And I still think with nostalgia of the spotless, quiet, basic pool at Cockermouth - a far cry from London's teeming, dubiously clean leisure centres! Plus Cockermouth had a much better bookshop for adults and children than anything in my part of SE London. Be prepared to be surprised (and check out Cumbria's top performing state schools, they still have grammars there you know ) and maybe as Cappuccino hints, look with caution at villages where inconsiderate second-homers have soured the atmosphere.

Cloudhopper Tue 09-Jan-07 21:30:48

From what you have said, it sounds like you get out what you put in, which would be great. I hope it would help that dh is a secondary school teacher and would be joining a local school, so we might avoid the perception of being blood sucking southerners.[hopeful emoticon] Actually neither of us are Southerners originally, and we love the North.

We would be desperate to meet people and to join in the local community. That's what scared me so much, because I would be gutted if we got the cold shoulder. As with everything I suspect being a bit thick skinned at first and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt would help.

Thanks for all your posts. You have no idea how helpful this has been to consider it.

bigwuss Wed 10-Jan-07 09:51:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Cloudhopper Wed 10-Jan-07 09:53:57

Thanks bigwuss. I think the arts scene looks really healthy in the Lakes actually - certainly beats the tired old repertoire in my part of London.

I really hope that this works out now.

AntEater Wed 10-Jan-07 13:50:45

Hi Cloudhopper,
Lots of good info here already
We live just outside Penrith and have done since I moved up from North London 15 years ago. Wild horses would not drag me back!

On a deadline at the moment but will have a look at this thread tonight.

How old are your children?

OrmIrian Wed 10-Jan-07 13:56:37

"What does get up peoples noses ( and this does happen..) is people move into the area then complain the facilities aren't the same as a big city."

Same round here actually! And it is really irritating. Swings and roundabouts.

Cloudhopper Wed 10-Jan-07 17:21:57

Hi anteater - thanks for your interest. I would be so curious to hear what it was like for you at first when you moved up. I am desperately trying to persuade dh that this is a good move.

the dds are 3 and 10 months at the moment.

smittenkitten Wed 10-Jan-07 18:29:53

wow - this will be a really extreme contrast. I wonder if you'd be better off moving somewhere cheaper, but still urban with access to beautiful countryside. I moved form London to leeds and it's such a wonderful balance.

it's not a v populated area so if he wanted to progress, options would be limited. whatever you decide, i hope it works out for you.

Cloudhopper Thu 11-Jan-07 08:13:20

I know, smittenkitten, that's what i am scared of really. But we have wanted to move away for years and dh has never seen a job that he is happy to apply for before.

I am hoping the big contrast will be good though.

Firstly because it will be so so different that we will have to adapt - it will get us out of a rut. Secondly because having lived in urban two bed flats my entire life, I really fancy a big change. I wouldn't be tempted away by anything else. We want to live closer to family who are now all in the North, so that is a big reason.

I think that the killer will be the weather. I did like the increased sunshine when we moved south, and remember noticing how little it rained when we moved South.

nikkie Thu 11-Jan-07 19:33:55

I am in Barrow, wouldn't recommend coming here from London, def be a culture shock but Penrith is much nearer to the motorway and therefore evertything else!

You'll def get a better quality of life up here ,house prices/life is much cheaper (as long as you avoid the tourist bits)

AntEater Thu 11-Jan-07 22:46:58

Hi again cloudhopper,sorry for the delay..
hope your getting not tooo confused..

Please email me if you want some more specific information about Penrith, schools etc
info@justplayhouses.co.uk

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