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467km (290 miles) NW of London; 50km (31 miles) NE of Kendal

This one-time capital of Cumbria, in the old Kingdom of Scotland and Strathclyde, takes its name, some say, from the Celts who called it "Ford by the Hill." The namesake hill is marked today by a red-sandstone beacon and tower. Because of Penrith's central location above the northern Lake District and beside the Pennines, this thriving market center was important to Scotland and England from its very beginning, eventually prompting England to take it over in 1070.

The characteristically red-sandstone town has been home to many famous and legendary figures, including Richard, duke of Gloucester; William Cookson, the grandfather of poet William Wordsworth; and Dorothy Wordsworth, William's sister. Today, Penrith remains best known as a lively market town.

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