The town of Penwortham is situated on high land on the south bank of the Ribble Estuary, at the most westerly crossing point of the River with major road and rail links. Archaeological evidence reveals an ancient ford and the existence of a small Norman motte and bailey castle, reflecting this important and strategic position. The castle mound can still be seen behind St Mary's Church.
The belt of marshland between Penwortham and the river was brought into agricultural use by the middle of the 16th century. More significant landscape changes occurred in the 19th century with the construction of the Albert Edward dock. This land is now crisscrossed by drainage ditches and protected by outer flood and river embankments.
Along one of these embankments runs the Ribble Way, a long distance footpath linking the Ribble estuary with its source in North Yorkshire. This section of the footpath follows the south shore of the river as far as the old Penwortham Bridge at Middleforth where it turns left and follows the north bank of the river out of the city.
The Penwortham cycle way also crosses the bridge contributing to the network of cycle routes north and south of the river.
Penwortham's proximity to the riverside, and other informal parks such as Hurst Grange make it an attractive place to live and work, and both Upper Penwortham and Lower Penwortham or Middleforth are now well established as thriving communities to the south of Preston.